—Systemic change begins with personal change—

(Formerly Leadership and the Environment)

Community, support, vision, stories, role Models, experience.

Leadership turns feeling alone and complacent into action.

We bring leaders to the environment to share what works. Less facts, figures, and gloom. More stories, reflection, self-awareness, connection, support, and community.

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690: Leah Rothstein: Just Action, a blueprint for concerned citizens and community leaders

June 1, 2023
Leah Rothstein has worked on public policy and community change, from the grassroots to the halls of government. She led the Alameda County and San Francisco probation departments’ research on reforming community corrections policy and practice to be focused on rehabilitation, not punishment. She has been a consultant to nonprofit housing developers, cities and counties, redevelopment agencies, and private firms on community development and affordable housing policy, practice, and finance. Her policy work is informed by her years as a community organizer with PUEBLO and Californians for Justice, working on housing, public safety, environmental justice, and youth leadership, and as a labor organizer with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE). Daughter and coauthor with podcast guest Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. A Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute, the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley). Leah followed up The Color of Law with a book on what to do: Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law: a blueprint for action for concerned citizens and community leaders alike. The book describes dozens of activities that readers and supporters can undertake in their own communities to make their commitment real, producing victories that might finally challenge residential segregation and help remedy America's profoundly unconstitutional past.
Leah Rothstein

690: Leah Rothstein: Just Action, a blueprint for concerned citizens and community leaders

This podcast and my mission are about changing culture. The Color of Law compiled our culture's practices that I can only see as cruel and unfair. As long as they're hidden, we can't do much about them. Listen to my episode with Richard and read that book if you aren't on top of America's history of cruel and unfair housing policy.

Once you're outraged, then what? In this episode, Leah answers that question. She shares at a high level what people can do in their communities.

You'll hear a couple extra notes of interest from me. One is to see what techniques in the culture she's changing can apply in changing our culture in sustainability. The other is that my episodes with my mom talking about the racially integrated neighborhood she and my father chose to raise us in, as well as the neighborhood itself, Mount Airy, Philadelphia, factored into her research.

You'll also hear me recognizing a new element in how a cultural practice could start for one reason, say racism, then even after people in that system oppose racism, that system can continue and perpetuate the racism. At a certain level, I knew it already, but it hit me more viscerally when Leah explained it. You'll hear.

Show Notes

689: Workshop results: Can Learning to Lead Sustainability be fun, inspiring, and effective? Yes!

May 31, 2023

Can Learning to Lead Sustainability be fun, inspiring, and effective?


I just finished leading my first workshop in leading oneself and others effectively to act more sustainably: enduring systemic change and immediate personal change.

Best of all: it was FUN! . . . both the workshop and the action it led to.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the participants results.

Today's post is the audio from a conversation with them on their experiences.

Better yet, watch the video.

You can learn to help change culture and restore a safe, clean, healthy world.

We're organizing two summer 2023 cohorts. If you want to help fix our world, sign up at https://spodekleadership.com/workshop

687: Should We Amend the Constitution for the Environment?: A constitutional scholar (Michael Herz) and American abolition historian (James Oakes)

May 27, 2023

See the video for this episode here.

I speak about the concept of a constitutional amendment on the environment with former guests on this podcast:

We approach the concept from many perspectives, especially comparing it with the Thirteenth Amendment.

This is my first conversation with two experts on a topic I'm just starting to learn about based on very detailed fields, including law, history, abolitionism, and politics. I have to start somewhere. We recorded this conversation months ago and I've learned tremendously since.

688: Maya K. van Rossum, part 1: Green Amendments for the Environment (State and Federal)

May 27, 2023

Some context leading to my conversation with Maya:

When I first thought of a constitutional amendment to protect us from pollution, I thought the idea was crazy, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. The more I did, the more it made sense.

Since learning about the Thirteenth Amendment prompted me to think of it, I first spoke to previous guest James Oakes about it. Since it involved constitutional law, I spoke to previous guest (and Nobel Prize holder) Seth Shelden, who put me in touch with his constitutional law professor and previous guest Michael Herz. Besides my conversations with them one-on-one, I also spoke with Michael and Jim together. I recommend listening and watching those conversations for context.

My conversation with Maya:

Then I learned of Maya's work with "green amendments," as she calls them, at the state level as a foundation for the federal level. She has been working on it for years. She shares that history, including a major win in Pennsylvania and New York State's recently becoming the third state with a green amendment.

She describes the value of an amendment over statutory law, how current legislation doesn't prohibit pollution it legalizes it, the state of the movement, and goals.

If you, as I did, considered environmental amendments interesting but far-fetched, you'll love this episode. Maya is achieving the seemingly impossible and showing it's beyond possible. It's happening.

686: Gautam Mukunda, part 1.5: Can Humans Thrive Without Modern Technology?

May 18, 2023

In the first part of our conversation, we start by reviewing Gautam's commitment to sailing, which seemed and still seems a good idea to him. but maybe too much for now. We revisit what motivated him and come up with a new commitment.

The second part gets more exciting. Gautam expresses that we need to develop technology to help people who aren't living as well as us so we can help them. (I may not have summarized accurately; listen to his recorded words for his precise meaning.) This view is like waving a red flag to me since I used to think things like that but now see otherwise.

We engage in different views on technology, progress, how humans used to live versus how we live today, values, and such.

In other words, we openly talk about the underlying beliefs driving our culture and individual behavior we don't question or talk about, but that guide our decisions and behavior. If we can only imagine a world working a certain way, we can't change course. If that course leads to billions of people dying, being stuck in beliefs is a problem.

I greatly appreciate a civil, productive conversation on topic that many find inflammatory.

685: Chris Bailey, part 3: Dropping the latest iPhone for a flip phone

May 15, 2023

Chris returns to share his experience with the Spodek Method. He did something different than he committed to: he stopped using his smart phone---the latest Apple iPhone---in favor of a simple flip phone hearkening almost back to the nineties.

What happens? Does his life fall apart? Does he find more calmness?

Should you simplify your life by avoiding the call for the latest and greatest?

He shares his experience and you can find out (I'm not sure he did it for this podcast, in that I think he was planning to do it anyway. Still, he shares his experience).

684, Simon Michaux: Do Governments Understand Energy? How Unprepared Are We?

May 11, 2023

Simon is a mining engineer who both researches the minerals and mining necessary if we were to try powering our culture with various sources. His work has brought him to work with government teams, especially economists and politicians around the world.

He shares in our conversation that we will transition to a low-energy future, what it will take, and how little we have tried to figure out if we can do it. It's worrying to hear how poorly we understand the problem, how unprepared we are now, and how poorly we are preparing ourselves.

What he shares is challenging to process considering the risk for catastrophe coming up. Situations like he describes is why I act so much. If you think scientists, engineers, politicians, or anyone understands the situation better than you and you can have faith people smarter than you will solve it, don't hold your breath.

I don't understand how people don't take responsibility, prioritize solving these problems, and act.

683: Alan Ereira, part 3: More about Kogi life and culture, contrasting with ours

May 8, 2023

The more I move toward living sustainably, the more I learn about cultures that haven't become as polluting, depleting, addicted, and imperialist as ours. I grew up thinking they were stuck in the Stone Age, but they aren't. Conversations with Alan help me learn about the Kogi, with whom he's lived in the mountains of Colombia and made two documentaries with the BBC. The relevant differences is that compared to us, they live sustainably, free, and in abundance. Alan shares more in our third conversation about what he's learned from them, including how they see us, which is sobering.

682: Gautam Mukunda, part 1: Teaching Passion for Leadership at Harvard

April 21, 2023

I've made it no secret that sustainability lacks leadership and leaders. If you want to help on sustainability, I suggest that the most valuable thing you can do is learn to lead. If you know how to lead, improve it. Nothing can change as much as leading cultural change.

Gautam's passion is to learn how leadership works, how to teach it, learning more about it, writing about it, the military, most relevant to our conversation: conveying what he knows and that passion.

The upshot: someone who knows as much as anyone about leadership, what works, what doesn't, learning more about it, how to teach it, and passionate to convey what he's learned. He also knows and has befriended some of today's most effective leaders, whom he mentions in our conversation. He calls General Stanley McChrystal "Stan."

Let's see if we can bring Gautam's knowledge, experience, and connections to sustainability.

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