Sustainable Beverly Hills?

I’m sitting in the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, California after the opening event at the Boston College Center of the Corporate Citizenship conference  (#BCConf14). Its exciting to hold this conference on the west coast (closer to home!). I’ve been pondering about the choice of venue: Los Angeles. Were the organizers (Bostonians) attracted to the nicer weather? Is the major sponsor located in LA? Is the Center trying to increase engagement and dialogue with the corporations in southern California? There are many possible merits however after spending a couple of days here in southern California, specifically Beverly Hills which has been known for the lavish and wealthy population of celebrities, its a world-renowned icon of sophistication, luxury and service and indulgence. When talking about declining natural resources, responsibility of people, businesses and governments and mindful living to secure a future, health sustainable future, this is not the first city or area to come to mind. That said, there’re are signs below surface which I’ve been excited to experience.

Strong commitment to local, organic, delicious ingredients and cuisine : Let’s take MCafe, a neat café contemporary macrobiotic  cuisine “featuring balanced, nutritious, creative cooking… our chefs prepare each item fresh daily, using only the finest ingredients without any refined sugars, eggs, dairy, red meat or poultry.” Our curiosity got the best of me and I had to  give this place a try. Bravo! Where else would I find this cuisine. It was nutritious, alternative, affordable and tasty. p.s. I’m not a vegetarian. This is just one example of a variety of food options which integrates thoughtful, local sourcing of ingredients and innovative cuisine to appeal to new audiences.

Innovative lifestyles: There’s no place that innovates like California, Silicon Valley energy is in the DNA of every county which I appreciate. From fresh juice and Cupcake ATM’s (ok, not so healthy) but the state thrives on ideas. Not just thinking about them but making them a reality and so if we’re going to drive sustainable change that’s good for society, environment and economy, we need to act on our passions and values for any idea to make sense.

Enterprise: I’ve always been blown away by the critical role of small business in the health of the US economy. The sustainability of ideas come to life on Abbott Kinney Boulevard this is a mecca for sole-trade, small enterprises and socially conscious mindset. This is where Toms has their coffee store. Toms founder Blake Mycoskie recently announced at SXSWi that the company has ventured into the coffee business. Sales from the product will be used to provide clean water for cooking, drinking and other sanitation uses to the estimated 2 billion people who don’t have access. This mindset spans beyond the world of coffee in Venice, CA.

On the larger public level, its pretty disappointing to see the City of Beverly Hills’ Sustainability Plan which is filled with ideas but no actions or measurements to progress. Then there’s the transportation , ten-lanes of bumper to bumper traffic. Sigh. Thanks goodness for the role that Daimler has  played to reduce emissions and vehicle impact because there’s one thing for sure, residents in Beverly Hills love their Mercedes.

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