“How do we relate to the earth?” asks Dennis Weaver, actor and founder of the Institute of Ecolonomics. “We relate as a society through business. If business doesn’t care, no significant changes will be made.”
Weaver founded the Institute of Ecolonomics in 1993 to create environmental changes by working with business and industry.
Recently, Weaver spoke to a diverse crowd of local leaders in business and environmental causes at the Malibu home of Bonnie Reiss, a member of the advisory board of the institute and co-founder of ECO (Environmental Communications Office).
Weaver spoke passionately of society’s addiction to fossil fuel and brought up alternatives such as hydrogen, which he described as plentiful, clean and economically attractive. He also emphasized the importance of being conscious of one’s inner environment. “If we don’t fix what is within us, the outer world will get broken again. If we’re carrying around greed and fear, that’s the kind of world we create.”
“When I was younger, I was into ecology, and I thought industrialists and the business community were the enemy,” said Neale Donald Walsch, author of “Conversations With God” and a member of the board of directors of the institute. “Now, I appreciate economics. We have to find a way to bring the two energies together.” While acknowledging the Industrial Revolution is the force behind many of the ecological problems we’re facing, Weaver believes business can now lead us to and implement solutions. “The price of the Industrial Revolution was heavy,” said Weaver. “It was a big party, and now we are getting the bill. We have to change our thinking.” Rather than focus on business as the cause of our environmental problems, ecolonomics focuses on the potential of business to create a solution.
Weaver coined the term ecolonomics to represent the importance of integrating ecology and economic goals. He uses the metaphor of a stool with three legs, one leg represents business, the second leg is education and the third is government. All three have to work together to create a sustainable future. “People see ecology and economics as opposing. We’re raising consciousness about ways to blend the goals of ecology and the goals of a healthy economy,” said Walsch. The goals of the institute include creating academic curricula for universities and colleges. Chattanooga State College offers a certificate in ecolonomics combining coursework in environmental and economic sustainability. Dr. Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State College, offered some examples of solutions created by the city of Chattanooga. He mentioned the city’s use of electric buses and cited former chemical plants downtown being transformed into living labs for urban organic gardening.
The institute also consults with business to help foster ecolonomic products and practices. Weaver described an ecolonomic product as economically profitable, good for the environment, and as good as or better than the competition.
Walsch and Weaver are traveling throughout the country to spread the message to concerned citizens whom they encourage to participate and make a difference. “Make a choice to do something creative and productive,” said Walsch, “Together we can change the world.”