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Greenheart’s commitment to nature

Cabilla Cornwall oak tree and forest entrance to nature Half-circle stamp style image with 'Greenheart for greener futures' caption
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Greenheart has a Manifesto; an articulation created by the team of the beliefs and values that drive our work and culture. You’ll have spotted it by now no doubt: although we are deeply pragmatic, commercially-driven, technical experts we are talking more and more about nature. 

This is deeply important to us. It’s important as humans: our culture is based on living systems principles (as I’ve written about here loads before) and the sense of belonging that comes from recognising that we are all part of nature, not separate from it. 

It’s important to our work: we firmly believe that a key root cause of the global social and environmental crises is the disconnection from the natural world that characterises our growth-at-any-cost, take-make-dispose economy. 4bn years of research and development by nature tells us that it is possible to survive and thrive within the boundaries of our planet if we unlearn that disconnection and relearn what nature has to teach us. 

Within our Manifesto are three core commitments, including a commitment to:

   “protect, nurture and learn from nature giving it a voice so that it informs every decision we take.”

It goes on to affirm that: “Nature has a seat at our table. Literally.” A bold claim indeed. 

At our recent team Summer Gathering at the incredible Cabilla Cornwall, we devoted a session to unpacking what this commitment actually means. We weren’t asking how we prove it, or what symbols or tokens we can put in place. We wanted to unpack how we’re actually going to live it. 

Sitting under a huge old beech tree, we chose to skip fairly quickly past the first part of the commitment: if we’re doing our jobs right we will be protecting and nurturing nature through the positive actions our clients take as a result of our advice. 


The greenheart ecosystem under a mother oak tree in Cabilla's temperate rainforest in cornwall


We are learning constantly, whether immersed like we were at Cabilla, acquiring living systems training from the Butterfly School or using Tom Mansfield’s excellent Cards for Life to bring a regenerative lens to a facilitated discussion. 

It was the point about “giving it a voice” we wanted to delve into. How could we, hand on heart, say that nature has a – literal – seat at our table. There is now a growing school of thought around this and we started to unpick some of it in this article last month. There is also a beautiful toolkit from B Lab Benelux and the Earth Law Centre on onboarding nature as a stakeholder which is well worth investigating. 

But we wanted to go back a step, to explore how to do this organically and profoundly from within. Before we add the legal twiddly bits, the symbols and tokens we wanted to make sure we were manifesting it every day. We resolved that nature’s voice should be brought by all of us, all the time. Because humans are nature, not separate from it. The best voice for nature, we decided, is us… as humans connected to their inner nature. 

If we can continue learning and keep our culture and systems inspired by living-systems there is no reason we cannot do a pretty reasonable job at this. We did have the humility, however, to agree that we need the occasional support of a ‘perspective holder’, someone from outside the ecosystem but with a deep understanding of nature-inspired governance who can course-correct us if we’re not quite getting it right. So we’re on the lookout for such a person, or persons, at the moment. It’s not quite the same as inviting a proxy for nature onto the board, but we’ll probably end up there too. 

My goodness, as I read this back I realise how far-out I may sound. But our final resolution of this session was as follows: to be brave on this topic. We are in the business of supporting transformative (metamorphic) change in our clients’ approach to social and environmental impact. There are businesses that are ready to think like this: we know that because we’ve met them. There are plenty that aren’t and we know that too. We’re on a journey of exploration here but are certain we’re onto something.

Thanks for coming with us! 


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