Read on the street 14 December 2019

"Enjoy the silence"

Good morning,

With all the hot air expended over the last few days, I have been reflecting on Simon and Garfunkel’s wisdom urging us to remember that the wisest of words are often “whispered in the sounds of silence”.  So, as we take stock of this week’s political shenanigans, I invite you to stop, take a deep breath and, once you’re immersed in your restorative bubble, find a quiet spot to enjoy reading some of our most life-affirming, faith-restoring pieces from the past week: read, enjoy and soak up the hope.

You’ll need it!

Start with some perspective

Let’s start with getting some perspective on the events of the last few days. Despite this election being touted as the “most important in a generation”, here are some other if not generational, then certainly decade-defining events to put the political wrangling into perspective. Read on Vice.

Sustainable fun

And how about injecting a bit more fun into our lives? The concept of hedonistic sustainability may sound like an oxymoron, but it's exactly what architects in Copenhagen have tried to achieve by putting an artificial ski slope on top of a waste-to-energy power plant. What seems like a fairly 'out there' idea actually helps to reinforce the plant’s zero toxic emissions credentials, whilst also stimulating conversations about what projects of this type can achieve.  Read on Twitter.

Want to have your cake and eat it too? You need a “carrot and stick” approach to investment

When companies are faced with a crisis in the ESG department, all eyes are on investors. They are faced with a particular dilemma. The easy response is to dump shareholdings and walk away, hands clean, money intact. Option B is the rather more compassionate engagement response. After all, once you’re out, you lose your say. But, and here’s the good news, why not deploy both; a more pragmatic “carrot and stick” approach. Engaging (carrot), but retaining the divestment option (stick), might be the best way to bring about lasting change.

Read in the Financial Times.

Leading the way

Sustainable investing is one of the most rapidly growing parts of the market, accounting for $31 trillion last year. Better, impact investing – where investors intentionally generate positive social outcomes – is growing even more rapidly. This piece explores the real trailblazers; let’s hope we see more following their lead in the new year. Read in Forbes

ESG and value creation

And all of this altruism is certainly not for nothing. This report by McKinsey highlights five ways that paying attention to your environmental, social and governance impact creates long-term, demonstrable value.

Read at McKinsey.

The great recycling con

This perhaps dourer contribution in what so far has been a sea of positivity is enrapturing, so stay with me. The video explores the great recycling con which has seen us consumers lulled into guilt-free consumption for decades. In actual fact, most of the stuff you think is recyclable (because companies label it that way), is not. The solution? Start buying as if nothing is recyclable. Read in the New York Times.

Seeing the unforeseeable

Another thought provoking read. Predicting the future of the internet is incredibly difficult, according to Cullen Murphy. Like the printing press, the internet has changed access to information forever, but what have been the unintended consequences? He argues that it’s easy to forget 'how unforeseeable the "unforeseeable" really is' when it comes to predicting technological change. Read in The Atlantic.

A celebration of silence

To quote Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, I invite you, in the aftermath of the election, to consider that “a day thinking about what could happen, should happen or what might have been is a day missed”. Instead, find a moment in your day before our beloved leaders renew their clarion calls for our attention, to listen to some of our favourite tunes, all of which celebrate the power of silence in the hope that you will remember, if just for a few minutes, what peace there may be in this beautiful stuff.

Listen on Spotify.


Written by Sarah Buchanan-Smith, Consulting Partner