Sunday, September 18, 2005

A full day at the Balaton Group meetings

So many interesting presentations to listen to. So many gifted, creative, committed people to speak with; learn from; be inspired by. The meeting’s theme is ‘Models and Methods for Securing Regional stability in a Globalizing world.’ Today’s session began with a discussion of global material flows by a senior policy analyst from the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan. This was followed by ‘Climate change in China,’ given by a Chinese scholar and the ‘Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’ given by a Canadian scholar who participated in one or more of the assessment teams.

In the afternoon, there was a workshop on designing sustainable development educational materials for the 14-18 age group. This lead to a discussion of a highly successful program organized by the Regional Center for Central and Eastern Europe, which morphed into a discussion of outreach programs for faith based communities and a workshop design for sustainable development education of non professionals in the US. There were screenings of anti-smoking and anti-alcoholism commercials used in Thailand, an environmental sensitivity program developed for employees of Total Oil in the Netherlands and a dance program designed to raise environmental consciousness in Vermont.

At lunch I caught up with a global modeler, new to the meetings, with whom I had worked in the US and Europe more than thirty years ago. In the evening, my dinner companion and I discussed the role that transformational technologies - Est., Landmark, DMA and others - had played in reshaping colleagues lives and how better technologies could be crafted to empower leaders who would be simultaneously humane, empathetic, empowering and effective in leading a transformation to sustainability. The discussion included candid sharing of our own transformational experiences and those of friends we had in common.

Mutual respect, mutual caring, a legacy of shared experiences and a foundation of similar, though not identical values provide a context for Balaton group discussions. They exemplify the way members of a policy oriented scientific community can and should share information with one another and relate to one another. This, combined with the vision and skill of the group’s founders in reinforcing this cultural context, help to explain the group’s resiliency.


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