CEO and Founder, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc.
“Impossible To Be Better”
The The Alliance for Business Leadership trip to Denmark was three years in development. In partnership with the intellectual leadership of UMass Boston and the visionary financial support of the Barr Foundation it brought more than two dozen business and policy leaders from Massachusetts to investigate Denmarks world leading success in our needed transition to a more just and sustainable prosperity.
It is an honor to be part of ABL Copenhagen Team. It is as diverse, smart, shrewd and as audacious in aspiration and accomplishments as our Commonwealth. Denmark, like MA, is free of excessive size or excessive “natural resources” (ie extracted value) and, therefore, Denmark like MA has had to turn (as Horace Mann had it) “to mine the infinite resource of the intellect of man.”
In MA we know about shared aspirations and accomplishments. On this beautful, stolen, land we call Massachusetts (“the people by the great hill”) for over 400 years pilgrims of one sort or another have dreamed in English about a more perfect union. John Winthrop, Adams & Kennedy each called MA and America (ie Kennedy) to be “like a city upon a hill.” A troubled world has never needed this type of visionary leadership towards a more cohesive shared life more.
Denmark has been acting like a “city upon a hill” when it comes to our needed transition to a more just & sustainable society. So we went there to study their success. Again & again we heard about their relative homogeneity & higher levels of trust. And more than even racial & religious homogeneity we saw the probable driver of that cohesion in a 70+% private sector unionization rate. Which is something shared with the larger and more diverse Netherlands nearby which is beginning to rival Denmark in global sustainability leadership.
What I’m left wondering is can MA with its superior immigration rates and greater diversity have both the drive and the complexion to better lead the world in our needed transition than Denmark, Netherlands or New Zealand? Certainly being a part of the world’s largest commercial market in the US helps. As does our 120+ world leading colleges and universities. But what really gives us the edge, I think, is the audacity of our immigrant culture.
The human community itself is now an immigrant into what scientists call the “Anthropocene”. An epoch of geologic time defined by man. We need to become as Calvin Coolidge had it in his 1914 speech “Have Faith in MA” – “as radical as science & as reactionary as a multiplication table.” We’re going to need the sorts of guts i heard one delegate say his father taught him after he crossed the Rio Grande into America. Like my father’s constant refrain: “make good things happen” it silently assumes great challenges & unrelenting effort. It was his dads answer to: “how are you?” and it’s also a great description of the ABL Copenhagen trip. It is: “impossible to be better!”