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We believe these elements of leadership turn feeling alone and complacent into action.
We turn despondence to resolve, confusion to confidence.
We bring leaders to the environment.
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We help leaders create an environmental legacy.
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Episode 000: the back story:
279: Role model and global leader Mechai Viravaidya
Here are the notes I read from for this episode
I've said we don't have many role models. Well I found one. I was wrong. I'm going to tell you about a man I briefly mentioned in one of my episodes on Alan Weisman's book Countdown.
He exposes the absolute self-pitying lie that what one person do doesn't matter. Also the lie that government has to act first, or corporations. On the contrary, the fastest, most effective way for them to act is for people to act first. Yes you, here and now can make a difference.
This guy made enormous nation-size headway in the face of government lethargy and complacency on one of the most challenging issues. Most people won't even talk about population and most people enough to realize how it underlies every other environmental issue.
Then most people can't stop their knee-jerk reactions to the same misconceptions. They associate it with
Despite most fears and misconceptions, this man made enormous progress. He's not the only one, but I'm starting with him.
From his biography's back cover:
In Thailand, a condom is called a "Mechai". Mechai Viravaidya, Thailand's condom King, has used this most anatomically suggestive contraceptive device to turn the conventional family planning establishment on its head. First came condom-blowing contests, then T-shirts with condom shrouded anthropomorphic penises. Then condom key rings followed by a Cabbages and Condoms restaurant, When it comes to condoms, no one has been more creative than the Condom King.
To equate Mechai with condoms or family planning alone underestimates the man and fails to capture his essence. Mechai Viravaidya is engaged in a relentless pursuit to improve the well-being of the poor by giving them the tools to lead a fruitful and productive life. His achievements in family planning, AIDS prevention, and rural development are a means to an end - the alleviation of poverty in Thailand.
Mechai's journey From Condoms To Cabbages - from his roots in family planning to his goal of poverty alleviation - has spanned 34 years. Along the way, he has been labeled a visionary iconoclast and cheerful revolutionary. He is also an ordinary man from modest origins.
From Wikipedia on Mechai:
Mechai Viravaidya is a former politician and activist in Thailand who promoted condoms, family planning and AIDS awareness in Thailand. Since the 1970s, Mechai has been affectionately known as "Mr. Condom", and condoms are often referred as "mechais" in Thailand. From the time that he began his work, the average number of children in Thai families has decreased from 7 to 1.5.
in 1966 started to work in family planning, emphasizing the use of condoms. In 1973, he left the civil service and founded a non-profit service organization, the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), to continue his efforts to improve the lives of the rural poor He used such events as holding condom blowing contests for school children, encouraging taxi drivers to hand out condoms to their customers, and founding a restaurant chain called Cabbages and Condoms, where condoms are given to customers with the bill.
The Population and Community Development Association (PDA) is a non-governmental organization in Thailand. Its goal is to reduce poverty through both development initiatives and family planning programs. Originally called the Community-Based Family Planning Service, it was founded by Mechai Viravaidya in 1974. In the early 1970s, Viravaidya was the Minister of Industry but became frustrated with the government's inability to implement a national family planning policy. In his work with the government, he identified a direct correlation between Thailand's poverty and population growth. His immediate concern was the high population growth rate of 3.2%, which equated to approximately seven children per family.
Initially, the PDA sought to reduce population growth by focusing on efforts both to combat child mortality and to encourage family planning. Viravaidya deduced that family planning would not be widely adopted in Thailand if children did not survive. Therefore, his solution to controlling population growth, which was at 3.3%, was to target maternal and child healthcare. At the same time, the PDA made various methods of birth control accessible to rural populations. The PDA discovered that birth control pills were used by only 20% of the population because getting them required access to medical personnel. To target the remaining 80% of the country, the PDA invested in multiple initiatives - including the popularization of free condoms, increased access to birth control, incentives for women to not become pregnant, and slogans to encourage smaller families.
The Thai family planning programs met notable success. By 2015, total fertility had dropped to 1.5 children per woman. Following on the drop in unwanted fertility, the poverty rate dropped sharply; from 32.4% in 2003 10.9% in 2013.
The Population and Community Development Association has used many different strategies to promote its programs. Often the strategies are considered unique or creative. Some of these strategies include:
Efforts to make condoms more accessible & remove the stigma associated with them, like
Encouraging vasectomies by
Increasing the availability of birth control pills
Educating the population about HIV/AIDS
Here are the notes I read from for this episode, along with the text of the speech:
You might know I gave a series of talks at NYU that preceded this podcast
One of their themes was parallels between the US civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s and environmental action. Who would have expected it to succeed to the extent it did, however far we have to go?
One attendee, a friend who is black, told me once I talked about it, as a friend he listened, but as he put it, as a black man listening to a white man, he disengaged. He advised me to drop the analogy or I'd lose more people than I'd gain.
I took his advice but now disagree with it. However great the differences, the parallels are too great and if I lose people for how people view a white person discussing civil rights, one of us will have to learn and resolve the problem.
Today being the day the US celebrates MLK's birthday, following my recent application of Henry V's St Crispin's Day speech to environment, I want you to consider a few parts of the I Have a Dream speech.
Let's remember the context. 1963. Nearly a decade after the Montgomery Bus Boycott and many could say no progress had happened.
No one could have known the Civil Rights Act would pass the next year and that King would become the youngest honoree of the Nobel Peace Prize.
People did know that they were being jailed and lynched. People disagreed on strategy. Young men were being drafted and sent to die in Vietnam. Many had lost hope. Every step forward seemed to lead to a step or two back.
King could have talked about the situation they were in. He could have debated what would work or not. He could have dwelled in the present. In other words he could have spoken like most today speak about the environment: doom and gloom, facts and figures.
Instead he shared about a dream of a better future, which helped create it. No we're not done and plenty got worse for many people. Likewise we'll have to face environmental problems increasing for decades maybe centuries to come.
But I think we should learn from him what motivates people and replace what discourages them with it.
Today many speak and act with despair about the environment. Nothing will make a difference. Nobody cares. Too little too late. Let's pick up King's speech near the end
Here are the notes I read from for this episode:
After the conversation. . .
The notes I read from for this episode:
Service and giving back using Jason McCarthy GORUCK guy on Jocko.
Here are the notes I read from for this episode:
If you are thinking of doing something to act on the environment, go big. Instead of thinking the littlest thing you can do, think of the future and go big. What's the biggest thing you can do?
Not for others. For what you think is right. For how the future will look back on us. For how we look back on slavery. Would you free your slaves if you were born into that system as a slave owner? How huge a change, but what else could you do? Don't you expect you'd feel good about it?
What can you do on that scale here, affecting billions and all future generations? Think big.
My experience suggests not flying for a year, endeavoring to buy no packaging. Don't turn on your air conditioner or heater all year. You get the idea. Not straws. Selling your car, as Dov Baron did. Not buy clothing for a year like Lorna Davis. Pledge never to eat animal products again like Tom Szaky.
You get the idea. Not straws. I predict you will love the results and, however big your commitment, you will consider it small after you do it and want to do more. Your community will admire you for it, emulate you, and make you a leader. You'll probably get hired or promoted for it.
This episode describes how I train corporate and institutional leaders in environmental leadership.
I understand why historical reasons lead us to look to scientists, journalists, educators, and legislators for leadership, but they don't know how to lead. They may excel at their crafts, but sharing research however accurate, or stirring controversy, spreading facts and figures, and chasing votes rarely inspire people to change their behavior.
I've long looked to Mandela, King, and Gandhi as role models. I'm increasingly looking at leaders who inspire people to act against challenges when they would otherwise feel hopeless, futile, defeated, and complacent.
Henry V's speech to the outnumbered British in Agincourt, as Shakespeare recounted, stands the test of time. Now that the science is overwhelming---look at nearly any beach in the world to see we're losing to plastic as just one example---we need motivation and inspiration to act more than more science.
I draw on Henry V's sentiment and apply it to our situation. Here's the text:
KING HENRY V
What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows about lifting weights and exercising because she does it. No amount of reading, watching TED videos, debating, or analysis can match experience.
People who only read, research, and academically learn about performance-based activities don't know what they're talking about.
Any parents out there? I don't have kids. Am I qualified to advise you on how to raise your kids? I bet you learned more in the first ten seconds of parenthood than I have in decades of life.
People who have only learned academically about the environment don't know what they're talking about. Sadly, their ignorance of what causes our environmental problems doesn't stop them from advising people. That ignorant group includes everyone who hasn't acted significantly---that is, nearly all Americans. Likely nearly everyone alive.
Anyone regular exerciser will tell you the benefits beyond what a book can. Ginsburg doesn't exercise because if she doesn't people will die. She does it because it improves her life, contributing to her mental and physical sharpness.
Likewise, anyone who seriously acts environmentally may have started to overcome shame, guilt, or averting some negative, but they keep doing it for the benefit to their lives.
Find the joy.
Live the joy of environmental stewardship.
Vanessa's original post said she
Wanted to be a better advocate for veganism: so I trained 1.5 years and won the UPENN body building competition.
When asked why, she wrote
For the animals, for health, for the environment.
Never thought I would have the amazing privilege to be educated at an Ivy League school like University of Pennsylvania, but being there I had to use the opportunity to showcase the possibilities of a plant based diet: and how you can thrive with this lifestyle!
My peers will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, ceos, and I wanted them to see me on stage winning this as a vegan.
My classmates come to the show with signs that said #plantprotein because that is what I always hashtag on my Venn Hering Instagram
I also wrote my masters thesis on plant based diets and the link between toxic masculinity and meat consumption. It was selected by a panel of academics as the best in the class!
Progress is happening and I wanted to be a part of the movement :)
So I asked her about these things, the back story, the results, the hopes, and the dreams.
Her food pictures in Instagram are incredible, by the way, different but similar to my famous no-packaging vegetable stews, so I loved them.
Also watch her videos.