April 5, 2022

Sustainability Series 13: Collaborative Competency

We have arrived at the thirteenth and final installment in our sustainability series. Hopefully you have been able to follow along and learn more about the pillars of sustainability work and how CIRT incorporates them into our business! Our last topic is the collaborative competency of sustainability.

"We all need to work together, because there are no jobs on a dead planet; there is no equity without rights to decent work and social protection, no social justice without a shift in governance and ambition, and, ultimately, no peace for the peoples of the world without the guarantees of sustainability."
Sharan Burrow

The core of this competency is empathetic leadership- the ability to understand and respect the needs and perspectives of others, bringing them together to collaboratively solve wicked problems. At CIRT, we believe in working together- within our team and with other organizations. Empathetic leadership by businesses among businesses is the future of sustainable commerce. While competition is a sign of a healthy market, collaboration is important too. Collaboration avoids duplicated work and moves humanity forward faster. CIRT engages in partnerships that accelerate circularity for everyone in the space, leading among companies and NGOs to protect our mutual future.

As we discussed in week one of this series, sustainably feeding the world requires a systems thinking approach. However, it also requires collaborative competency. In our hometown of Athens, GA the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia is leading the effort to bring together stakeholders for a community-driven solution. The Foodbank of Northeast Georgia partners with more than 225 agencies, businesses, and charity organizations to distribute food to those in need. They also work with these partners to address root causes of food insecurity in all three spheres of sustainability.

Environmental Sphere

The Northeast Georgia Food Bank partners with local growers to utilize as much of their produce as possible in distribution to charitable organizations and individuals. They also host a farmer’s market in Clayton, GA and a Farm 2 School program. These initiatives bring together individuals, farmers, businesses and educational institutions to target the environmental sphere of sustainability through promoting organic, in-season, local produce. It also addresses the social sphere of sustainability through education and creating access to high-quality food.

Economic Sphere

The Food Bank has a commercial kitchen space that promotes equal opportunity in food-related entrepreneurship. The commercial kitchen space creates long-term working relationships with small businesses, which can be leveraged into the distribution supply chain for charitable organizations.

Social Sphere

It is well known that access to quality, healthful food is unequal in America. With just a glance at a map of food insecurity in the United States, one cannot help but notice that the most affected areas are also those with a history tarnished by slavery and racial discrimination. The effects of this history live on today, and it is important to address them when creating food systems policy.

At the Northeast Georgia Food Bank, there is an Instant Quick Freeze process that is used to preserve local produce and lock in nutrients. Preserved food is then distributed to people in remote mountain regions where local produce is not easily available. The Food Bank also runs a teaching kitchen and garden which  allow people to share knowledge with future generations. This partnership with educational institutions empowers young people to make more sustainable food choices, such as buying produce in-season and creatively using food items to eliminate kitchen waste.

Wrapping up the Sustainability Series

Thanks to our readers for taking this journey and learning with us about the seven pillars of sustainability. We have covered case studies from the Athens, GA area as well as discussed national trends in sustainability news. We are excited to take this knowledge forward into our business operations at CIRT, and hope that you find ways to apply the seven pillars of sustainability in your life too! In case you want a refresher, here are links to the other articles in this series. Now, let’s go forward and together make the world a better place.

Week 1: Systems Thinking Pillar

Week 2: Systems Thinking Case Study, the Circular Economy

Week 3: Strategic Thinking Pillar, B Corp CIRTification Case Study

Week 4: Strategic Thinking Case Study, Materiality Assessments

Week 5: Integrative Problem Solving Pillar

Week 6: Integrative Problem Solving Case Study, The Tri State Water Wars

Week 7: Intrapersonal Competency Pillar

Week 8: Intrapersonal Competency Case Study, Wedding Planning

Week 9: Anticipatory Pillar

Week 10: Anticipatory Case Study, Resilience Planning

Week 11: Normative Competency Pillar, Values Thinking

Week 12: Normative Competency Case Study, Power Portfolios

Week 13: Collaborative Pillar