New Economy Readings for Civic Tourism

Daily, Gretchen C. and Katherine Ellison. The New Economy of Nature: The Quest To Make Conservation Profitable. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2002 (260 pp.). Just as ecotourism and heritage tourism use the natural and cultural environments for economic benefits, a new breed of ecological entrepreneurs is experimenting with programs and approaches that will help save disappearing nature and make money at the same time. The idea behind many of these programs is that the century-long appeals to people and governments to preserve the environment because it’s the right thing to do clearly are not working, as devastation of flora and fauna continues unchecked around the world. These visionaries believe that tapping into the economic benefits of the land will go further toward convincing governments, corporations, and people to conserve nature, if for no other reason than it’s good for the bottom line. The premise that underpins most of these approaches is that nature has been providing benefits to societies for generations, such as the stand of trees that absorbs poisonous carbon dioxide or the family of bees pollinating plants that become our food, but nature or the people who manage that slice of nature have generally not been compensated for these benefits. Creative approaches fill the book’s pages, and although all of the approaches do not live up to their dreamer’s dreams, Daily and Ellison highlight the fact that a growing number of people outside the usual environmental spheres, including corporations and economists, understand that current levels of resource extraction and use are not sustainable, and that new solutions demand out-of-the-box thinking.

Daly, Herman. Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996 (253 pp.). Daly, a former economist for the World Bank, has become one of the principal spokespersons for the sustainability movement – the idea that humans should not consume resources at a rate that leaves fewer opportunities for future generations. What gives Daly such credibility is his understanding of economics. Many other steady-state advocates tend to fall into the slow-growth, environmental, or even religious sectors; and while they can make persuasive moral arguments, most generally don’t possess a deep understanding of the history, evolution, and current practices of the economics profession. Daly’s primary argument is that accepted theory does not account for a limited ecosystem, which he illustrates in a series of related objections. For readers who want detail to support their convictions, it’s here.

Esty, Daniel and Andrew Winston. Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006 (366 pp.). This book's title pretty much tells the whole story: business can no longer afford to ignore resource limitations, and “smart” companies are figuring out how to incorporate “green” strategies and make money at the same time. Like many other books that document successful sustainable-business projects, Green to Gold tends to focus on companies whose link to the environment is obvious, such as manufacturers, oil firms, and chemical industries, never mentioning tourism or community development. Still, the value of this book is its clear argument for environmental awareness and the many tools the authors provide to help companies develop plans to incorporate a sustainable culture throughout the value chain – looking not only at the company's activities, but up- and downstream toward suppliers and the purchasing public. While repetitive (reading the introduction and last chapter will provide most of what you need), Green to Gold is an excellent manifesto for “smart” commerce, as well as a very good map to help companies and communities move in the “green” direction while enhancing the bottom line.

Florida, Richard. The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent. New York: HarperCollins, 2005 (326 pp.). This follow-up to economist Florida's bestselling The Rise of the Creative Class argues that cities, regions, and nations must prepare for the "creative economy" if they are to succeed. Florida suggests, however, that the U.S. is in danger of losing out because it is not attracting or growing the talented individuals who will help to expand the creative class – stuck in an Industrial Age economy. State and local directors of economic development should at least be familiar with Florida's ideas.

Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books, 2002 (404 pp.). Florida’s bestselling and controversial work argues that a new "Creative Class" is central to the emerging knowledge-based economy. He suggests communities should position themselves to attract the Creative Class, because of their high income and education levels. What this group is looking for, he maintains, are communities that are diverse, tolerant, and dynamic – the opposite of many manufactured places.

Hart, Stuart. Capitalism at the Crossroads: Aligning Business, Earth, and Humanity, 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Wharton School Publishing, 2007 (260 pp.). While this book focuses more on developing sustainable business practices in the third world, or what Hart refers to as the Base of the Pyramid (BoP), where more than four billion people live on less than a dollar a day, the principles that underlie his strategies are no less relevant for any community or commercial enterprise hoping to create sustainable programs that go "beyond greening." Of particular interest is Hart's insistence that businesses "become indigenous," that is, that they listen to and incorporate the voices and values of local people, so new commercial enterprises are driven from the ground up, rather than the typical corporate top-down approach.

Hawken, Paul. The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability. New York: HarperCollins, 1993 (250 pp.). Business leader Hawken has provided one of the earliest and clearest manifestos highlighting why and how corporations and other industries need to get on board the sustainability wave. Working from historical and ethical perspectives, the author argues for a "restorative" economic system, one that "creates, increases, nourishes and enhances life on earth." In this far-reaching examination of our cultural values, social structures, economic drivers, and political realities, Hawken demonstrates to businesses trying to earn a profit and activists hoping to save the environment how they can work together toward sustainable ends. The book is filled with many case studies and recommendations.

Hawken, Paul, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1999 (396 pp.). Businessman Hawken and the Lovins, founders of the Rocky Mountain Institute, coined the term “Natural Capitalism,” which shares much with the ecological economics promoted by Hermann Daly and others. Natural Capitalism demands that businesses and corporations account for the Triple Bottom Line – that in addition to the financial ledger, today's companies must also factor in environmental and social costs. The first part of the book, an overview of the earth's ecological problems, explains why the market simply doesn't have a choice in the matter; if we keep operating without taking society and nature into account, we'll simply run out of resources very soon. The most helpful sections in the book are the many, many practices that the authors include to demonstrate that the market and the environment are not at odds. In fact, they argue that there is profit in doing the right thing, and they present numerous examples of old businesses that have revised their policies, or new businesses that are thriving in this new economic landscape. Their examples are worldwide, and while most of the case studies don't relate directly to place-making, their lessons are no less applicable. Essentially, they argue that the market is an effective tool for building healthy communities, and it shouldn't be thought of as an end in itself.

Holliday, Charles O., Stephan Schmidheiny and Philip Watts. Walking the Talk: The Business Case for Sustainable Development. Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing Unlimited, 2002 (288 pp.). For anyone who still maintains that community development has to be either jobs or the environment, they should consult this book, written by CEOs of three of the world's largest corporations, including Shell Oil and DuPont. Walking the Talk introduces the concepts of “Eco-efficiency,” Corporate Social Responsibility, and other socially and environmentally sustainable forms of development. The authors have been involved with these and related movements since the 1980s. Complete with more than 60 best practices from around the world, the book demonstrates that sustainable development is not only possible, but imperative, given our environment's precarious decline during the last half century. Far from “tree huggers,” the three authors argue that the market can and should partner social and environmental NGOs to better understand and connect to the communities in which they do their work, at the same time the NGOs can use market forces to help build healthier places. From our perspective, the book still argues for too much “growth” (the authors seldom suggest consumers simply do with less, for example), but the cases presented here may persuade those who believe absolutely in Adam Smith's free-market approach to consider a broader triple bottom line – market, environment, society. The book is helpful for individual businesses that want to operate in a more responsible manner, as well as entire communities trying to build healthier and more sustainable places for their citizens.

Savitz, Andrew. The Triple Bottom Line. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2006 (300 pp.). The sustainable, place-enhancing development that CHG advocates can certainly benefit from a “Triple Bottom Line” approach to development and reporting – accounting not only for the financial bottom line, but social and environmental bottom lines as well. TBL thinking has been around for decades, often characterized as “sustainable development” or covered in movements like “corporate social responsibility.” The term “triple bottom line” was coined in 1998, and Savitz's book nicely outlines the evolution of TBL thinking, at the same time it provides practical suggestions for incorporating the approach into one's development models. There is little doubt TBL will become a more important factor in the management of communities, businesses, and corporations, simply because more and more people recognize the economy does not exist separate from the environment or the society in which it operates. This is a good book to familiarize yourself with the TBL philosophy, a trend CHG fully embraces.