Al Gore Puts Sustainability In The Spotlight: Part Of The 7+ Minute Wise Leadership Series by Caitlin Krause

Inconvenient Sequel Truth to Power - Szenen - 12 Al Gore.jpg

Al Gore talks about making An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power: “When discussions about a sequel began several years ago… when it came to the 10-year anniversary that seemed like a good marker to say, Okay, here’s what’s new.”

In each of these series of interviews, we spend 7 minutes (or more, in this case!) talking with vital voices on leadership. In October 2017, we joined Al Gore in conversation, whose film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power featured at this year’s Zurich Film Festival. The following words are all Al’s; the headlines are our questions and themes.

Does the existence of a sequel mean that the critical climate change message of the first film (An Inconvenient Truth) wasn’t received, and the film didn’t achieve its purpose?

I don’t agree with that assessment. Public opinion has changed all around the world. More than 2/3 of the American people now understand that this is a crisis, it’s man-made, we have to address it, and we are now making progress. And the Paris Agreement was a truly historic breakthrough! Here you have virtually every nation in the entire world agreeing to go to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century or as soon thereafter as possible. That is quite a breakthrough, far exceeding what many thought could ever be possible.

Since the Paris Agreement, India, for example, has done a complete u-turn. They’ve closed 37 coal mines this year… they are going all-out to build solar installations. India just announced that, within only 13 years, 100% of all their new cars and trucks must be electric vehicles. And we are seeing that same commitment made by Norway and Denmark, even more quickly.

It’s Electric. How are leaders’ approaches to energy changing?

The largest U.S. manufacturer, General Electric announced it’s going all electric by 2023. This is the death of the internal combustion and diesel engine technology. So, we’re really seeing… 2/3 of all the new electricity-generating capacity in the world last year was solar. So, this is really a dramatic change. It is still not fast enough, because these consequences are growing in severity and frequency.

“It’s like a race between the development of political will and the onrushing crisis that we have caused with this heat-trapping pollution.” — Al Gore

In the film, Gore says, “We’re not talking about a climate crisis, we’re talking about a democracy crisis.”

We have seen in many countries, unfortunately the phenomena is most pronounced in the U.S., “policy capture” by special interests and lobbyists who have found ways to use the legacy wealth and power built up over the past century and a half, in which we’ve become so dependent on fossil fuels, to manipulate the political system. This is much less pronounced in Switzerland — you have very good policies under development here — but at the national level in my country, we have still the appointment of people who run the Environmental Protection Agency who are completely opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Inconvenient Sequel Truth to Power - Zurich Film Festival - 01 a-conversation-with-al-gore.jpg

How is there hope in the midst of a leadership crisis?

Even in the US, we are seeing our largest states moving forward without the federal government. Individual cities are making a commitment to go to 100% renewable energy. This is discussed in the movie and it’s a very heartening trend. We are seeing most of our largest businesses making a commitment to go to 100% renewable energy and to make the other changes that bring solutions to the climate crisis. Why? because they hear this from their consumers, their customers, their employees. They hear it from their executive teams and their families.

How is the new generation different, and looking for new answers?

When they go out to try to hire new employees, you know this younger generation is not only different from my generation, they’re WAY different from my generation. They want to work for a company that pays them a good salary, yes, of course, but they do not want to work for a company that doesn’t share their values and make them feel as if they are part of something larger than just the profit motive.

What about the Future of Jobs?

There’s an opportunity built into the response to this crisis. Again, I use my own country as an example. Jobs in the solar industry in the U.S. are growing 17 times faster than other jobs in the economy. The single fastest growing job is wind turbine technician. The number of jobs in the solar industry is already twice as large as the coal and oil industry. And, investing in these solutions creates more jobs still.

On the Subject of the Paris Agreement & Denial

Psychologists refer to “system justification”, which basically means that we as humans have an inherent need to feel that the large systems within which we live our lives are basically okay, and if someone comes into the room with his hair on fire and says Everything has to change! then the natural human tendency is to say Calm down! Calm down. Things are basically all right. One of the consequences of the Paris Agreement is that all of the systems in which we live our lives now have already committed themselves to this change. So, if you are one of the diminishing number of climate (change) deniers, you are the one with hair on fire. You are the one challenging the consensus. You are the challenging what humanity as a whole has decided is in our best interest. We are moving. We are going to solve this crisis.

“We are moving. We are going to solve this crisis.” — Al Gore

A Matter of Timing

The question is, will we solve it quickly enough to avoid crossing some of the tripwires, sometimes called tipping points, that run the risk of setting in motion changes that could spin out of our control? I’m very confident that we are still well within the timeframe that we can do this in time.

“I don’t even play a scientist on television. I just channel the knowledge that (the experts) very patiently put in simple enough terms for me to understand.” — Al Gore

And so, when I tell you I think that we are still definitely able to avoid these tipping points, it comes from the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community.

“Ours can be the first generation to end poverty — and the last generation to address climate change before it is too late.” — Ban-Ki Moon, UN Secretary-General 2007–2016, at the announcement of the Sustainable Development Goals

We’re the first to feel the consequences, and the last to be able to solve the crisis… This is also a burden that some people would like to push away, of course. When you ask the generation of people alive today to maintain an awareness of the consequences of their present actions for generations to come, that is asking a lot. Human nature is so complex, and all of us are capable of a wide range of actions and reactions. But we do have the capacity to rise above our limitations.

There have been those times in history when humanity has risen to the challenge of creating a better future.

“Now is the time for us to steer by the stars and not by the lights of each passing ship.” — General George Marshall

After WWII, General George Marshall, who became Secretary of State, author of the Marshall Plan, he said, “Now is the time for us to steer by the stars and not by the lights of each passing ship.” This is, again, such a time, because the consequences of what we do now in these next few years are unbelievably consequential, not only for the rest of our lives, not only for our children, but for all of the generations to come. Again, that’s a big thought, one that’s uncomfortable to hold in one’s awareness, but again, we’re capable of doing that.

And, why put out another movie, well that’s the reason, to try to refresh that awareness of just how important these decisions that lie immediately before us really are.

On Calmness & Reason

I sometimes get angry, of course, but anger should be used very sparingly I think. It’s very seldomly the most appropriate response.

There are some things that I miss about being in public service… I have hope that positive change is underway… In the presidential election last year, one of the least remarked-upon developments was one of the other Democratic Candidates, Bernie Sanders, regardless of how you feel about his proposals or policies, he demonstrated that it is now possible with the internet to finance a very robust and potentially successful campaign without taking any money from lobbyists or big wealthy contributors, but relying solely on small contributions over the internet. I think that is a very positive development…

You know, another reason for the climate denial, a great German philosopher Jürgen Habermas wrote in the early 1960s about the structural transformation of the public sphere and how the Enlightenment (began here in Switzerland and in Germany with Gutenberg’s printing press and Immanuel Kant’s philosophy and all of the movements surrounding the Reformation) really came out of this new communications technology and information ecosystem that was developed at that time, where logic and reason and the best available evidence came to occupy a really important place in collective decision-making.

On Truth and Power

Habermas and his colleagues in the Frankfurt school (some of them) wrote about how the introduction of mass media and the development of culture machines actually served to diminish the role of reason in politics in many countries. One of his teachers, Theodor Adorno wrote “The conversion of all questions of Truth to questions of Power attacks the very distinction between Truth and Falsehood.”

And sometimes the climate deniers, and sometimes other parts of the political dialogue in my country seem to be bringing those prophecies into being.

Internet Revolution & Collective Decision-making

Just as the electronic mass media changed the information ecosystem in ways that suppressed the role of reason, now the third revolution, the internet revolution, for all of its problems, with social media, fake news and the problems we’ve seen, nonetheless the underlying impulse is to re-empower individuals to easily enter a public conversation in ways that give us as humans, once again, a new opportunity to once again elevate reason and the best available evidence as the basis for collective decision-making.

We are on the verge of a potentially very positive restoration of the role of reason.

We are on the verge of a potentially very positive restoration of the role of reason. It certainly doesn’t feel that way right now, but if you stop and think of the robust reform movements that are alive and thriving on the internet now… very positive social movements, more manifested at the city-level and the regional level now, but it’s really beginning to pick up steam, and so I’m optimistic about it.

Each individual can be the change, be the leader.

About the Author: Caitlin E. Krause works in interdisciplinary arenas linking technology, learning, leadership, writing, VR and immersive storytelling. She is passionate about the intersection of expression, experience, and user engagement. A respected leader, entrepreneur and educator, Caitlin founded the company MindWise® in 2016; prior to that, she served as an integrated curriculum designer, classroom teacher and coach for 10+ years in schools worldwide. Her upcoming book Mindful by Design (Corwin Press, 2018) addresses mindfulness, neuroscience, creativity and innovative learning with a compassionate, curiosity-driven mindset, focusing on connection at the core. In her workshops, seminars and talks, she explores the immersive experience of mindfulness, empathy, AR/VR/MR virtual worlds, visualization, storytelling and design. Caitlin is a co-founder of The Center of Wise Leadership in Switzerland. She and co-founder Claude Heini are currently conducting a series of interviews with global leaders about their approaches to positive change and social impact. Promoting active, sustainable, ethically-driven leadership and global learning models is Caitlin’s driving force.

"Only you can resurrect the present." by Caitlin Krause

Original post at:

“Only you can resurrect the present. People
need your voice to come among them like nakedness,
to fuse them into one marching language in which the word
   “peace” will be said for the last time.
Write slogans, write bread that pounds the table for silence,
write what I can’t imagine: words to wake me and all those
who slump over like sapped tombstones when the generals
—”To American Poets,” Saint Geraud (1940-1966),
The Naomi Poems: Corpse and Beans (1968)

Bill Knott shook me awake with these words, written via his pseudonym Saint Geraud, published posthumously. A riddle within a riddle, words as razor sharp and crystalline as one could wish for. I didn’t have to think about why they were true or why I liked them, for that matter—they spoke what I wanted to say, somehow. Without justification. They had the means, and the nerve, and when the book Knowing Knott was published in early 2017, I devoured it as one of the many admirers of his words.

The collection of essays, masterfully edited by Steven Huff, reads much like a great mystery caper, jumping forwards and backwards in time, recounting events from multiple angles, offering testimonials and even alibis. There are crimes; there are secrets. Some are revealed; others are left alone, and much is left up to us to mull over and reach our own conclusions. Readers are along for the ride, in this search that seems, at first, to be quite simple: follow the trail of words to find the man; to uncover his messages and meanings. Was the elusive truth we all seemed to be seeking there, all along, hiding in plain sight?

Perhaps Bill knew as well as anyone the meaning of integrity—yes, I will call him “Bill”, not “Mr. Knott” or simply “Knott,” in favor of familiarity, pledging truth, thinking that the source would prefer it this way. In a media culture of paparazzi, voyeurism, and fanatical self-promotion, online and off, what does it mean to let oneself be known? What of trust? What of kinship and community? The richness of discovery in this compendium is that, in this search for Bill, everything’s brought out on the table: philosophy, mortality, humor, poetry, love, redemption, intimacy.  What remains is an enduring power that could be his legacy.

It might seem rather tabloid-ish, even vulgar, to focus on the man and personal details of his life instead of the work—that is to say, the words themselves. After all, how often does the reader’s suppositions about the confessional nature of writing leverage itself on the lure of that reveal, and the rare vision into the sanctum sanctorum, sometimes at a reader’s expense? I am not looking to analyze Bill; nor am I looking to pick through scattered pieces of a life to make my own assessment. I initially thought that to do so—to write about the man behind these essays; the man who created such brilliant poetry—would be a true sacrilege. Yet I have changed my mind in regard to Bill…

In the introduction to Knowing Knott, Steven Huff says, “I have often told students that if we’re sincere, if we are truly working hard on our poems, then we are engaged in a serious effort to explore what it means to be human… Being Bill Knott is not something you should try at home. It could be argued that ruminating on his idiosyncrasies, his furies, as well as his kindnesses, so well detailed in this book, casts a distorting shadow on his work. But no, the anecdotes are illuminating, the difficulties and crossed swords are somehow lessons in the school of the human soul.”

Agreed. One could say, as readers, as writers, as teachers—however we arrive—we are each more human—or, rather, more attuned and aware of our own human-ity—when confronting Bill through this book’s anecdotes and stories, alongside his poetry. Perhaps we, too, fly into ourselves.

Those are Bill’s words, flying into ourselves. And, just who was the “self” of Bill, often contained and reserved? Through the book, we see multiple angles of the same scenes, viewed through different eyes, with varied emotional tones and relationships the authors have to Bill himself. Complex themes exist about Bill and his life, producing quite a knotty sketch, true to his surname. Bill was contradictory: passionate on-stage performer; withdrawn off-stage introvert. Wearing thrift-store cast-offs; extravagant in supporting friends in need. He was the enlightened Zen-like monk, and the voice of the bawdy imp, ready to shock and awe with words cutting straight to the truth of a moment. Dedicated, driven, and often dissatisfied, an advocate for wabi-sabi and kintsukuroi. Bill knew that there was something beautiful in the broken. Still, quick to scorn and denigrate his own work; indulgent in doling out deserved praise of others. Elusive, Bill was ghost-like, known to haunt bookshops carrying his work, planting stacks of his books on prominent tables. He gave chapbooks and art away to friends and admirers, yet could barely make eye contact when introduced, seemingly feeling an urge to disappear. In his words, “Nothingness has its own niche.” What emerges is a medleyed assemblage that we might think pastiche if we didn’t have such authentic voices giving testament to Bill’s true nature.

The essays document encounters with one of the most iconic, elusive, electric, and original poets of the past century, whose astounding words are, as Thomas Lux says, “among the most beautiful poems that I have read in any language.” As Timothy Liu says, “I let them work their magic on me.” His poetry is lasting. Stuart Dischell says, “I still believe that Bill’s poems remain among the most memorable in the English language. His lines come to me often and in random moments. His work has indelibly transformed the world for me, the first principle of the Surrealist.”

This is a treasure trove of collected histories; accounts that are as beautiful to read for their structure and sound as for content. Fifteen essays, plus an introduction by Steven Huff, play off one another to create something nuanced, balanced, even synchronous in their collective dynamic. As a whole, the book reads with the musicality of an album, from the wry wisdom of Stephen Dobyns’s opening “Bill Knott,” to complexity with Star Black’s expansive, exquisite “Loving Bill,” and measured frustrated affection and effective frustration in Jonathan Galassi’s “(Not) Publishing Bill Knott.” Striking emotional chords, Thomas Lux speaks about Bill’s contradictions and self-sabotage; John Skoyles gives us an intimate glimpse into uncompromising integrity and compassion. There are elements of surrealism in DeWitt Henry’s “Visiting Bill Knott,” friendship and philosophy in Stuart Dischell’s “On Human Stilts,” and elegiac beneficence in Robert Fanning’s closing “May Eagles Guard Your Grave.”

<“Bill Knott Giving a Poetry Reading,”Emerson College Archives and Special Collections Digital Gallery, accessed March 31, 2017. >

This is, of course, emphatically not a Knott summary—neither the essays nor this article can provide some sort of summation. These are snapshots; I offer some visions from the pages. Every contributor, including Michael Waters, Peter Jay Shippy, Timothy Liu, William Corbett, Chad Reynolds, Leigh Jajuga, casts a rare light on Bill, giving him a special luminescence; creating a certain significance. They each tell us what it means to know someone, or to attempt to know them, which is a rare dedication and an art in itself. Perhaps poets know this best, as the listeners who bear witness, and who echo back a form of truth and beauty that has the power to move the world.

At AWP in Washington, DC, this year, there was a tribute to Bill Knott. The room was crowded; filled with his former students, friends, colleagues, admirers, fans…filled with those, like myself, who came to hear his poetry; to share a story about him. Connection. Ironic that we looked to connect and honor someone who seemed to dodge the spotlight. Bill has touched many lives; he might have been pleased to see the number there, yet perhaps he would also be unnerved by the attention. Who knows? After all, Knowing Knott is an acknowledgement of contradictions. Yet, maybe he would like it that way, and say, To hell with it. He lived how he lived, unapologetically, caringly, with verve and passion for his work, his students, and the power of words. Every essay corroborates the story of a legend; the evidence of daily dedications and immense genius that often belied its own brilliance…it’s all in the text.

Marvel that he gave his poetry, so freely, often at odds with publishers themselves, in order to make the language even more accessible, even more open. That openness, trusting us to know what to do with the words, is the great gift that lets us know exactly where Bill stood: he was on our side.

- Caitlin E. Krause

Copyright 2017 Woven Tale Press LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Speeding Toward the Future at the Pace of Now: Mindful Global Mindset by Caitlin Krause

"How to Survive Our Faster Future" is the subtitle of my current read: Whiplash (by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe). We're living in a "VUCA" world, characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Not only is change inevitable, its constancy and rapidity can add to levels of stress and anxiety-- unless we decide to see VUCA as opportunity. Embracing the emerging future prompts a feeling of open possibility, and a curiosity to discover and realize our greatest potentials, in all sorts of ventures. We’re undoubtedly living in times of rapid change and high demand; times of immense challenge. I certainly feel it– all I need to do is glance at daily news headlines to have a feeling of perspective and urgency. This is where mindfulness, wise leadership and global perspective give an advantage, yielding a Mindful Global Competency mindset.

We want to ensure that the work we’re doing is valued; we want to know that it matters and matches our goals and commitments. We strive to maintain a sense of balance, as we navigate this complex world, maintaining focus and resilience while maximizing our capabilities. In addition, the global corporate culture and increased connectivity require even more flexibility, and broader skill sets that encompass a range of capacities, including emotional intelligence and empathy.

Instead of feeling daunted, it’s the ideal time for us to invite some mindfulness into the equation. Here we are in a complex, fascinating environment, ripe with opportunity. The field of global mobility and intercultural exchange has never been more exciting– and, there has never been a higher demand for these skills and abilities, across all industries. Integrating mindfulness values and practices into a global competency model that embraces a flexible, resilient mindset has significant long-term benefits for career, health, well-being and happiness.

Embedded in mindfulness is deeper gratitude: an appreciation for what is present, in the current moment, even as we set-goals and look toward the emerging future.

In a globalized working culture, mindfulness is especially valuable because it gives agency back to the individual. It gives a better sense of stability, even in situations that might be beyond our ability to anticipate and fully control. Because of this, mindfulness also increases our connection capacity in place of fragmentation. In other words, mindfulness creates community.

We are able to reach out and connect with others more easily, because we are more self-aware, with developed skills of resiliency. We are confident, not despite challenges, but because of them. In Stanford researcher Carol Dweck’s seminal book Mindset, she relates this capacity to growth mindset. It’s all about mindfulness, self-awareness, and embracing the rigor instead of denying or avoiding it.

We live in the midst of a global corporate climate that is rife with burnout, stress and depression. Recent studies cite stress and burnout as the top threat to workplace health, resulting in great losses across all quality measurement areas, including employee work satisfaction, job retention, company culture, and revenue. The rate of burnout continues to increase each year; mindfulness is seen as a top strategy and method to provide burnout prevention. Instead of succumbing to this threatening trend, looking at establishing an environment that promotes the best, most adaptive and advantageous state of well-being is the answer for global leadership.

As a burnout prevention measure, stress reducer, leadership and confidence booster, creativity cultivator, and overall well-being motivator and life enhancer, mindfulness serves as a necessary base layer for a holistic model of leadership, learning and global competency. It’s a lens to look through, and it can be applied to just about everything.

This could be why, when I’m asked to define mindfulness, I call it simply: “a way to be in the world”– with awareness (understanding of surrounding context), advancement (having a sense of purpose), and authenticity (detaching from judgment; focusing on situations while maintaining resilience). I use these three A’s as foundational pillars of mindfulness and wise leadership mindsets.

Recognizing our own multi-dimensional natures and experiences, we can operate with curiosity, allowing us to build our abilities and reach goals while staying grounded in this complex, inter-connected global landscape. Combining mindfulness and global competency could yield a new, even more powerful concept: mindful global competencyI'm testing it out, applying this mindset to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), education models, VR experiences and more. Stay tuned for updates as we speed toward the future, together.

Caitlin Krause is dedicated to Wise Leadership and A Better World, at global scale and prototype pace. This post is adapted from a guest blog Caitlin wrote in January 2017 that appeared in Global People Transitions. The book Whiplash, by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe, and the work of the MIT Media Lab, certainly inspire the author, who is still in-process of reading about the 9 principles. Expect a follow-up. 

360 VR Media: Immersive Storytelling Hits #ZFF for the First Time by Caitlin Krause

"Its aim is to capture ore of the ambience, and the smaller, often-untold stories that are going on all around us.

To many, that’s the nature of theater — a dynamic between the medium and the audience, and the viewer becomes an active “player”, too.

Enter the world of immersive media, including VR and 360 filming.

By combining coverage of the carpet events, premieres, interviews, scenes, and man-on-the-street/woman-on-the-platz “Humans of Zurich” snapshots, the aim is to create a full tapestry of shared experiences, in an interactive form that a user can jump in and out of, exploring as he or she may wish.

There’s nothing like a film festival to match this theme — the film itself is a VR device, arguably the most popular one of the 20th century. Now, integrating VR and 360 into our own personal spaces creates an amplification of these immersive abilities, in a personalized way. This is essentially why I believe it’s guaranteed to be the human experience of the 21st century — because it fits our human desire (which we’ve had ever since the age of Icarus) to transcend both reality and our own human limitations."

Read More

We write who we are. by Caitlin Krause

Parker Palmer writes, “We teach who we are.” I find this to be entirely true, and I would even develop the statement, to read: We write who we are.

As writers, we write. It’s a necessity. And the act has a way of becoming us. We write our goals, hopes, apologies, love letters, vows and grocery lists. We text, tweet, befriend, commend, and forgive (though we might not forget, because we’ll want to write about it later!). We write at a shout and a whisper; a laugh and a scream. We write out our fears and our desires; we give ourselves over to the page. It is a frightening enterprise, yet we find ourselves doing this, again and again.

Yes, we write. We are storytellers by nature, perhaps from the most primitive times in our human ancestry. We wish to express our truest selves, to record, to amplify, and to pass down our stories and make a mark, in a sense. To whom are we talking? That could be the question, as blogs proliferate… Still, we write for the sheer act of writing itself.

Several years ago, a friend asked me, “Why do you write?” Reasons flickered through my mind, each a plausible explanation, yet not exactly correct. ”I write because it’s there,” was my response, in a vague imitation of Mallory. In truth, there is no one justification for my writing, and my answer was pure and true. I write because it exists, and I exist, and we are one and the same.

I write because now, when I am swimming, I have thoughts that I don’t want to leave to drown at the bottom of the lake.

I write because tonight, biking downhill toward home, the breeze seemed to whisper some thoughts in my ear… and, for the record, the breeze is far more profound!

I write because I’m listening.

There are infinite reasons to write, and to respond to writing.

Everyone can write his/her self. When I teach writing, this is what I want to open up. I want to start a conversation. I want to start a revolution. It begins quietly, with one (sometimes virtual) pen. We write who we are, and that’s both the start and the finish.

#CuriousCollab, Creativity and Cooperation by Caitlin Krause

My number one reminder, in the midst of this process of expanding an enterprise: it’s all about connections and relationships; all about collaboration and cooperation. Creativity works the same way, for me — it’s what I call (and tweet!) #curiouscollab. It seems to be about taking what I know, and collecting and connecting with what others know; seeking new knowledge out of a curious drive, and creating new meaning and new connections that are valuable. Many people have been using the word “tribe” to represent their web of connections — my tribe seems to be the world, and I allow my own curiosity and empathy to let me step into others’ shoes, see from their views, and learn… It’s as much about differences as it is about similarities. And, by working together for a form of good — by analyzing and questioning and re-interpreting, we can collectively create something better.

Gratitude, Giving Up, and the Art of Losing by Caitlin Krause

To adopt a mindset of gratitude is a quick flip that works to also promote positive letting go, transforming my days in different ways. Instead of loss, gratitude is a gain. It looks at what is rather than what is missing. I suppose that’s the key — gratitude seems to have everything to do with mindful awareness, promoting something positive and completely within our grasp, in each moment…

Read More