The Green 50

November 1st, 2006 by Hugh

Here’s a list of businesses that Exbiblio would surely like to join – The Green 50 – as chosen by runs through some of the issues: High oil prices, global warming, the sense that chemicals cause real harm and the earth’s resources are indeed finite. It concludes:

These are not so much charitable causes to embrace as they are problems that entrepreneurs can solve. Wall Street and Silicon Valley certainly understand this: Venture capital firms invested $958 million in renewable energy companies in the first half of 2006 alone.

Exbiblio is committed to Green Design, but it hasn’t got a product that will ‘save the planet’. Instead, it’s going down the charitable route with its Compendia Foundation. I am told that if Exbiblio fulfills its ambitions, there will be a significant amount of capital available for Compendia and the environment. It’s certainly a different approach to Green Business from that chosen by most of the Green 50 – but Exbiblio is never one to take the obvious or easy path, and I have to say that it is one of the things that motivates people at Exbiblio in their daily work on the oPen and its associated software.

A Business And the Environment

October 20th, 2006 by Hugh

Hilary Franz is an environmental lawyer who represents non-profit environmental organizations. She divides her life between her environmental legal work, small scale farming, home-schooling three boys, and working at Exbiblio. On her desk at Exbiblio there is a book called “Collapse” by Jared Diamond – her reading matter is an indication of her serious concerns about the environment, and the direction of our society.

She admits to being “challenged” by the whole notion of technology. She points to her computer and says that it has a “real world environmental impact”, and in fact, she would throw it out of the window right now, if it were not for the fact that she couldn’t do her legal work without it. She recognises that a computer has benefits as well as minuses for the world:

“It also provides an opportunity for connecting people to education and information that is going to create power for change in the world, and help create a sustainable environment,” she says.

This is why she insists that we should “do honour to Exbiblio”, because Exbiblio states in its values that technology in itself is valueless. It must be a force for good through information, connections, knowledge and the power that comes from each of these to change and improve the world.

Hilary is starting to investigate the best model for Compendia, the non-for-profit organisation set up by Exbiblio to work on the environment. She believes that Compendia goes right to the heart of what makes Exbiblio “so different.”

“People should be inspired to work here every day,” she says. “Wealth will be generated by this product that will then go to fund real life world-changing work; preservation of rain forests, environmental education, tackling climate change. It’s not just about what Exbiblio produces. We are creating a model. The hope is that we will go out and spread this model, speaking about it, talking about it, sharing it with others to transform the way corporations operate.”

“This is a corporate redesign. We are establishing a new set of norms where we direct the creativity and resources of business towards the great challenges of creating a sustainable future, and where the power of real change can be an engine for creativity within the company.”

She says that other companies create wealth, and only then think about whether they might donate some of it to good causes. Exbiblio is about fully integrating its values with the work that it does on a daily basis.

As for Exbiblio, she says, “Here’s a company that’s doing work that needs to be honoured! They are dealing and grappling with the issue. Many companies historically have not always looked at the environmental impacts of doing business. Exbiblio is wanting to make sure that they are not just designing a product to make profit and that will cause harm, but instead they are planning to make profit, while minimizing the harmful impacts, and maximizing value for the environment.”

She concludes,”We can’t say ‘if” this is going to happen. This needs to happen. It has to happen.”