As I began to think about how to begin doing this, I had some initial conversations with thinkers whose ideas and experiences I value.  I realized that I could make larger impact by sharing my thinking with groups who already are doing the work of trying to transform systems and cure large-scale social ills through philanthropy and business.  My work with TGI generated a lot of good thinking and experience around transforming supply chains, and gave me encouragement that many many dollars that flow through corporations are at the ready, just waiting to flow into better systems of production.  I know that businesses with tremendous economic impact are hungry for sources of goods and raw materials that have great transparency in how they are made, and for goods grown or made by the hands of people who are treated and paid fairly, and who have healthy communities and intact natural systems.  The demand is there, and rapidly growing.  This is good, because it shows me that there are enough people on the planet who at least say they desire something better than what is currently offered by the broken dominant system so rampant with exploitation, pollution, and destruction on all levels.  What is not yet there, is the fully developed and fully actualized alternative source.

I began searching for a way to start working from the grass-roots level at transforming the big things that current corporate ways of doing business are not good at doing – Even the best actors are not good at actually supporting long-term development, at the necessary level of investment, for the true transformation of those supply systems and putting their money into really transforming the quality and agency of the lives of those people upon whose backs their businesses are build and maintained. Currently, the dominant business models of eventually always trying to improve efficiency and cut costs wears down any innovators who might be trying to take a business in a more transformational direction which values multiple forms of capital, not just financial profitability.

So, I began thinking that transforming philanthropy and helping donors see the importance of understanding the true ramifications of their investments might be another important leverage point for shifting this global system into transformation.

There are so few aid programs or donors that truly think through what happens after their funds are injected into places and peoples lives are transformed.  Sure they hyper focus on short-term metrics, but its the long term story and the big picture the almost always are missing.  Its the million dollar question “Then what?” that never gets asks or reported on.

In this current broken global system we all live in, those transformed people almost certainly, if they get “helped”,  get sucked into the force of human beings that is causing the worst problem humanity has ever faced.  They too aspire to join their develped peers, and get sucked into the illusion of happiness which is actually just a twisted compulsion called over consumption, which seems to lead to a culture that cultivates humans that feel they live in a soul-less void where caring that the earth is undergoing biocide and humans are facing climate genocide, doesn’t faze them at all.  In this model, it would be better to do nothing, than spend billions of dollars adding more souls into the destructive forces of the dominant culture destroying the fabric of all life.  If an alternate reality isn’t explicitly designed into a donor’s approach, the dominant system prevails, and even though the donor might explicitly desire to alleviate social ills – because climate chaos is happening at the global scale and driven by our collective actions, all status quo actions actually lead back to contributing to the same problems that they set out to try to solve.

The logic driven, reductionist modality of thinking behind dominant culture, has ill prepared much of society to understand and think in ways that can grasp enormous challenges of this scope and figure out ways that can solve them.  To tackle these types of complex problems, basic ecological literacy, economic literacy and social systems must be well understood, and then critical thinking using a holistic approach must be utilized and actions evaluated that are equally enormous in their response to the problem the seek to solve.  I myself haven’t seen that type of thinking and educational background listed as a job requirement for any political or business leaders making important decisions that affect the fate of the world today.  If we continue to let them lead, unqualified and unprepared as they are, and equally arrogant and unwilling to listen to those who have spent the time to hone those types of skills, or to those who’s cultures remain intact enough to still foster that way of knowing, we will also be to blame for the outcome of our in-actions.

Read more blog posts from Mary Johnson here

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