Sustainable Platforms: Launching the next stage

Welcome to our new world of multiple platforms. One professional platform no longer needs to fill every need.

Many of us working in sustainability at this stage (I’m 60) find ourselves with lots of experience and interests – more than fit in any one role. My friend Chuck Bennett and sustainability recruiter Ellen Weinreb explored this challenge well in two articles last fall talking with a half-dozen of us “sustainability veterans”, including tips for “sustainability veterans who won’t quit”. There are other things we want to do professionally. At this point in our lives, we don’t want to delay getting on with them. I’ve gotten a lot of signals in my personal life recently that have reminded me forcefully not to put this off.

US BCSD logoSo effective today, I have a new platform. I am Program Director (part time) with the US Business Council for Sustainable Development. US BCSD is “an action-oriented and member-led nonprofit business association that harnesses the power of collaborative projects, platforms and partnerships to develop, deploy and scale solutions to ecosystems, energy, materials and water challenges.“

Oversize logoBut today I am also delighted to remain a Partner at ERM, a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk and sustainability services. In fact, that remains my day job and my main platform. I will continue to provide corporate clients with help in strategy and management for environment, health and safety (EHS); and in linking sustainability issues more closely and effectively with their business. I look forward to continuing to serve my clients there.

And today I continue a lively conversation with a number of close friends and respected colleagues working in academia, in the investment community, and elsewhere using private means to achieve public ends. They are creating fascinating and hopefully sustainable platforms like Gastameco and its “innovative projects in the field of social housing” such as its We Crociferi development; or Co-Creation Ventures and its Stock Pot Malden “culinary incubator and commercial kitchen”.

I want this next stage to be the culmination of my professional life, not an epilog. For 40 years I’ve worked in the public-private frontier, in one way or another. For 40 years, I’ve helped drive change, hopefully in productive and constructive ways. For 40 years, I’ve worked in different aspects of strategy and management, economic development, and sustainability. Now, I want to pick and choose more of how I work on those issues. I want to apply everything I’ve learned. I want to keep learning.

In the long run, will this strategy of multiple platforms help drive more progress in sustainability? Will this mix of multiple platforms prove sustainable, personally and professionally?

I invite you to learn with me, by following these organizations, or following my journey on this blog or on Twitter.

[Scott Nadler is a Senior Partner at ERM and Program Director at US BCSD. To share this post, see additional posts on Scott’s blog or subscribe please go to snadler.com. Opinions on this site are solely those of Scott Nadler and do not necessarily represent views of those quoted or cited, ERM or its partners or clients, or US BCSD, its members or partners.]

2 thoughts on “Sustainable Platforms: Launching the next stage

  1. Scott – I LOVE this post. Speaking from some close approximation of a millenial (I’m 33), this concept of multiple platforms resonates well with me. I’m actually so wired this way that I struggle with focusing. My most recent challenge in life has been finding some way to reduce the number of platforms to a manageable, leveraged few.

    Like you, I’ve found ways to combine interests and values horizontally. And I continue to see these connections as critical to the success of my endeavors – personally, in my work, in education as an instructor and a student, for public end via private means.

    As CEO of thesoundfloor.com, my co-founders and I are bringing a new flavor of music appreciation (rather than music critique) to the fold. It blends the work I’m doing with my academic thesis on “The Architecture That Built the Live Music Capital of the World” with my love for music – its recording process, history, the ritual of procuring music and listening to it with friends – and the entrepreneurial spirit that has always been a part of me. We are new and do not yet know what we want to be when we grow up. And we’re happy to share that growth process with our followers.

    At the same time, I am co-captain of the Solar Decathlon entry for UT Austin (nexushaus.com), where we are designing an affordable, water- and energy-positive (forget zero!) house that can be replicated for mass production. We will be presenting our work at the fusebox festival (fuseboxfestival.com) later this month, which incorporates a significant participatory planning event for the thinkEAST development, a new, affordable, mixed-use development for Austin’s creative class (musicians, designers, culinary artists, performance artists, studio artists) and their economy (thinkeastaustin.com). I’m also working – through Texas Venture Labs (www.mccombs.utexas.edu/Centers/Texas-Venture-Labs) – for Austin Habitat for Humanity to assess feasibility of an affordable live-work development in Central Austin. This portfolio represents my public ends / private means identity – all focused on the built environment, and with thinkEAST, a blend of my professional and academic focus in the sustainable development context.

    I’m also betting long on multiple platforms. My intuition tells me it’s the only way. I’m tired of vertical integration. Horizontal integration is the new black!

    Cheers
    Ryan

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