Jeff Brown is back for conversation three. It’s short, sweet, to the point. Jeff talks about the details of his community what it’s doing, what it’s not doing and how he’s acting. Besides the basics, I recommend listening to the tone. I’d say he’s enjoying the challenge. He’s meeting neighbors. He’s doing what he’s read about in other books in his leadership podcast but I think not always doing, now he’s actually doing stuff and you’ll hear that he’s pleasantly surprised. So let’s listen and hear what he does.
Joshua: Hello and welcome to the Leadership and the Environment podcast. I’m here with Jeff Brown. Jeff, how are you doing?
Jeff: I’m doing great, Joshua. How are you doing?
Joshua: I’m doing great. And I’m curious because the last time we spoke you were going to take steps beyond what a lot of people do and take steps to change things with people around you and working with systems and people and stuff like that. I’m curious how it went.
Jeff: Yeah, not very well but I gave it the old college try. One of the first things that I did in the first few days since we last spoke was just some simple online research to kind of wrap my head around what’s currently happening in the way of recyclable pickup in various neighborhoods near us. We’re out so we’re in a city called Springhill but outside the city limits. We have a Springhill address but we’re not within city limits and there are routes for such pickup inside the city limits. And so the next thing I did was to check and did research on the county. We’re in a county called Murray County. And there are similarly routes for various neighborhoods within the county none of which cover you know the several hundred homes in our subdivision alone.
Now there are as I think I mentioned the last time a couple of throughout the county what’s called convenience centers where recyclables can be taken. And my wife and I have been doing that for a little while now but I’ve always wondered and especially in the last few weeks and months in June I began the challenge who among my neighbors, if any of them, actually take advantage of that and if there would be more who would take advantage of that if there were some sort of curbside pickup.
So when I sort of hit a dead end of kind of realizing well, you know the county and what it’s doing doesn’t cover us and doesn’t come near us in the city and what it’s doing doesn’t come near us, I didn’t pursue the route of a local government and then trying to figure out what that might look like to have you know a community [unintelligible] or if that’s even a possibility. So what I instead did was go to our neighborhood site. We use a site called Nextdoor as a lot of neighborhoods do, nextdoor.com, and posted, and here I’ll just kind of summarize the post here real quick, I started out by sharing that my wife and I have taken her recyclables you know to one of the nearby convenient centers and I wondered if any neighbors do this as well or choose simply not to recycle. And if you’re in the latter camp, if you would recycle if it were as easy as leaving it you know the end of your driveway say every other week, should there be such a service for our neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods and would you use it.
And there’s only been a handful of replies so far. But one of them I am looking at a woman named Kim Boyd who says, “We would use a service. We take our recycling off but it would be great if we can have it picked up.” Marge wants to know well, how much would it cost. Or we would do it if it weren’t costly, if it were free or minimal expense.” Nicole says, “We would definitely use it. We’ve started going to the convenience center at least every other week because they no longer have the steel can bend behind the grocery store where we used to take our steel cans. We recycle so much that I discontinued our trash service and my husband just takes a bag or two of trash a week to his work.” so that’s some of the initial response. And so there are people saying, “Yeah, we would use that if it were provided if there were curbside pickup.” The next step obviously is well, how to begin something like that. It’s now a matter of going to the H.O. and getting their permission. And you know, etc. What does one charge for something like that? Who can do that? Is there an existing service that could add the neighborhood to the route? You know all those questions are the ones that are popping up in my head now.
Joshua: So you know I look at this picture and I’m looking back at my own behavior and I think this feels like there are stages or tiers of acting on the environment. There’s the low hanging fruit which is like you know for a lot of people that might be just eating less meat or driving less on some occasions or bringing bags with them to the store with them and it’s something that you do with yourself and it doesn’t involve other people. And then it feels like it’s another tier which is after you’ve done the low hanging fruit it’s influencing others and getting involved with the HOA and things like that. And then it ramps up, it involves other people, it’s planning, it’s strategy, it’s things like that. I mean there’s still other levels of seriously changing a life which [unintelligible] into now but I think that this takes a lot to get into.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, I was again… It’s not a lot of responses just yet. I expect more to come in in the coming days to this particular post. But I was I guess pleasantly surprised would be the word to see the number of folks who say they’re ready you know taking their recyclables to one of these convenience centers. And you know, God forbid we’d be slightly inconvenienced by taking our recyclables to the convenience center that’s just you know 15 minutes away but I know there’s a lot of people who just because it isn’t easy, don’t do it. And we were one of those for a long time.
And so I just feel like there’s got to be a way to make that happen. I mean I’m sure there’s some red tapes, some hoops to jump through to get such a service like that here or if there isn’t one available you know either create one or find somebody who would be willing to you know take on that task going forward. But I can’t imagine anyone like being [unintelligible] or campaigning against it. You know what I mean? I mean why would you do that?
Joshua: Yeah. Why would you knock out 85 percent of a national park… Well, that’s another thing. Sorry. I just got a little political there.
Jeff: Point taken.
Joshua: But you know when you first answered at the beginning of this call it sounded like you were like, “Oh, I tried and it didn’t work.” But now it sounds like you are not done. Sounds like you’re just along the way.
Jeff: Well, yeah. That’s probably a better way to put it. I had hopes to come to this conversation with you know like a resolution or like you know I guess a bigger better story to tell. But you’re right. It’s still in motion.
Joshua: And what’s keeping it going? I mean because it’s so easy to give up and so many people feel like, “I tried you know it was a lot of work and what’s the point of continuing?” Is it because you’re going to be recorded and there’s public accountability? Or is there something driving you that you like?
Jeff: Well, I would be lying if I said that wasn’t part of it. That certainly helps. But I think beyond that it’s just seeing the responses and reading the responses from other people who are like you know the consensus is at least from what I’m reading is, “Well, why hasn’t somebody suggested this before now?” You know and that’s kind of where my head was when my wife and I started you know taking our stuff you know 15 minutes down the road. You know “Why isn’t somebody already providing a service like this in our neighborhood?” was my first thought. And that seems to be the consensus of many of my neighbors and it’s kind of one of those things, “Well, somebody will eventually do that.”
Joshua: Somebody. Yeah, that’s kind of the big thing about the environment overall. Someone will fix that later. And then they will tell me what to do and they’ll make it easy for me.
Jeff: Exactly. It’s not for me to do, it’s for somebody else to figure out.
Joshua: You know from… I teach entrepreneurship. And I have to say that two things you said they’re like giant, not red flags, green flags for an entrepreneur. One of them is people say they want this and the other is feeling like, “Why doesn’t this already exist?” And when you have that either one of those is to me like that’s a business worth starting. You know you have to check the details and so forth. But both of them together is like that’s something that once you get going it will sustain and you’ll forever be the person who got it started. And then, to people listening I’m sure that there is stuff like this around you. Not for everyone but for a lot of people like you can be the one to make it started and you’ll be the one that the community likes and things like that.
Jeff: I like to think they already do.
Joshua: Even more.
Jeff: Even more.
Joshua: And you know the public accountability is something that you know this is early on I don’t know if people have looked him or if you’ve looked at the podcast you know I have a place where people can commit to their own personal challenges. Now one of the things I have is that when you sign up it puts you on the list and someone will say, “I’m going to organize my neighborhood to recycle” and then it says “ongoing”. And at the end of it you get an e-mail saying, “Would you like to write a review?” And I hope that that public accountability doesn’t scare… It’ll scare some people away I’m sure because a lot of people don’t want, I don’t know, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to do it but they might not want to. But I think it will for the people who don’t get scared away I think it’ll get them to do it more. I think that people want the public accountability people who really want to do stuff want the accountability because it helps them get it done.
So I’m saying this partly to you but really to other people listening if you’re listening this and thinking, “I want to do something like that,” then you know go click Commit to the Personal Challenge and sign up and put your name on the list as someone who’s going to do something and use that to get it done. I hope you don’t mind my hijacking our conversation to talk to the listeners.
Jeff: No, and I echo that completely. You know I think I mentioned to you in our first conversation that you know I had had some of these thoughts on these lines already. You know maybe there’s a business here for me or somebody else in addition to just you know impacting the environment in a positive way. I haven’t done anything with it other than it just being a thought and these conversations with you have spurred me on to pursue that to some sort of conclusion that impacts our neighborhood specifically and the environment overall.
Joshua: Anything else to add just at the stage?
Jeff: I don’t think so. You know my hope is, other than that, to say my hope is that by next time I can report back and say there’s a light in the end of the tunnel that I can say 100 percent yes, there is such a service coming to our neighborhood either an existing service adding us or new one being started because enough folks have said they want to take advantage of something like that. So that may be a lot to bite off here in the next 30 days but that’s my hope.
Joshua: I hope so too and I hope it leads to lots of other people doing something similar in their communities.
Talk about how one man can make a difference not just to his community but to himself, he’s pleasantly surprised. Those are his words. I think you can expect to be pleasantly surprised if you act on your environmental values. We share a lot of values. So if you act on yours, people will probably respect and also want to help. I hope that before you move onto your next thing that if you have something that you’ve wanted to do that you’ll pause if you weren’t already going to and think of how you can start that thing. Because I think that if you start, I predict that you will find yourself pleasantly surprised as well. People will look up to you. They’ll help. They’ll admire and respect you for taking action for getting things done. They will thank you. They’ll help you. I think that you’ll enjoy what you do more than you expect. Also, I recommend clicking on the Commit to a Personal Challenge link at joshuaspodek.com/podcast where you can make yourself publicly accountable. Leaders like public accountability. It gets things done and you’ll be able to be a leader among leaders when people see what you’ve done. Anyway, this is not the last of Jeff so come back for a conversation four with him to come soon.
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