Start with the Vision, by Donella Meadows

“Start with the vision, be open to any path by which the vision will be realized, be patient and persistent, be true to the vision, and things will work out.”

evergreen trees on a small island on a foggy lake


The Transformed World, by Donella Meadows

“I call the transformed world toward which we can move “sustainable,” by which I mean a great deal more than a world that merely sustains itself unchanged. I mean a world that evolves, as life on earth has evolved for three billion years, toward ever-greater diversity, elegance, beauty, self-awareness, interrelationship, and spiritual realization.”


Never Doubt, by Margaret Mead

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”


Learners Inherit the Future, by Eric Hoffer

“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”


A New Model, by Buckminster Fuller 

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”


Beginning to Wake Up, by Joanna Macy

“The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world — we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other.”

I have found that something slightly magical happens when you set goals that feel a bit crazy,” Tim Cook said. ``The effort will take you to places you didn't anticipate, but the results are almost always better than what you thought was possible at the outset.

—Tim Cook, Apple, on vision


Start with the Vision, by Donella Meadows 

“Start with the vision, be open to any path by which the vision will be realized, be patient and persistent, be true to the vision, and things will work out.”


Pane of Glass, by Peter Senge 

“Like a pane of glass framing and subtly distorting our vision, mental models determine what we see.”


Brought Lovingly into Being, by Donella Meadows 

“The future can’t be predicted, but it can be envisioned and brought lovingly into being. … We can’t impose our will upon a system. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone. We can’t control systems or figure them out. But we can dance with them.”


Intuitive Mind, by Albert Einstein

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”


Genuine Sense of Concern, by Dalai Lama

“You can develop a genuine sense of concern of well-being of others, including your enemy. That kind of compassion – unbiased, unlimited – needs training, awareness.”


Extraordinary Moment, by Buckminster Fuller

“We have come to an extraordinary moment when it doesn’t have to be you or me. There is enough for all. We need not operate competitively any longer. If we succeed, it will be because of youth, truth, and love.”


Courage, by Matthew Fox

“Courage is the first sign of the Spirit. It is the root of all the other virtues.”


Let ours be a time, from the Earth Charter

“Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.”


Something Magical Happens, Tim Cook from Apple

“… I have found that something slightly magical happens when you set goals that feel a bit crazy,” Tim Cook said. “The effort will take you to places you didn’t anticipate, but the results are almost always better than what you thought was possible at the outset.”


Sherri Mitchell

“We are responsible for dreaming the future into being.”


Brené Brown

“We tend to be our worst selves when we’re afraid. So we have to be intentional about choosing kindness and generosity.”

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.

—Rachel Carson

Systems & Disciplines

Defy the Disciplines, by Donella Meadows 

“Defy the disciplines. Follow a system wherever it leads. It will be sure to lead across traditional disciplinary lines. To understand that system, you will have to be able to learn from—while not being limited by—economists and chemists and psychologists and theologians. You will have to penetrate their jargons, integrate what they tell you, recognize what they can honestly see through their particular lenses, and discard the distortions that come from the narrowness and incompleteness of their lenses. They won’t make it easy for you.”


Being Interdisciplinary, by Donella Meadows

“Seeing systems whole requires more than being “interdisciplinary,” if that word means, as it usually does, putting together people from different disciplines and letting them talk past each other. Interdisciplinary communication works only if there is a real problem to be solved, and if the representatives from the various disciplines are more committed to solving the problem than to being academically correct. They will have to go into learning mode. They will have to admit ignorance and be willing to be taught, by each other and by the system. It can be done. It’s very exciting when it happens.”


Alphabet of Natural Objects, by Aldo Leopold

“I am trying to teach you that this alphabet of “natural objects” (soils and rivers, birds and beasts) spells out a story, which he who runs may read — if he knows how.  Once you learn to read the land, I have no fear of what you will do to it, or with it.  And I know many pleasant things it will do to you.”


Living Systems, by Louise Diamond

“Living systems are learning systems.”


Synergy is Behavior of Systems, by Buckminster Fuller

“Synergy is the only word in our language that means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the separately observed behaviors of any of the system’s separate parts or any subassembly of the system’s parts.”

If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.

—Joanna Macy


Practice Goodness, by Donella Meadows

“Nothing is more difficult than to practice goodness within a system whose rules, goals, and information streams are geared to individualism, competitiveness, and cynicism. But it can be done. We can be patient with ourselves and others as we all confront a changing world. We can empathize with resistance to change; there is some clinging to the ways of unsustainability within each of us. We can include everyone in the challenge; everyone will be needed. We can listen to the cynicism around us and pity those who indulge in it, but refuse to indulge in it ourselves. The world can never pass safely through the adventure of bringing itself to sustainability if people do not view themselves and others with compassion. That compassion is there, within all of us, just waiting to be used, the greatest resource of all, and one with no limits.”


Take on tasks society needs, by Buckminster Fuller

“Humans will spontaneously take upon themselves those tasks that world society really needs to have done.”


A Huge Difference, by Donella Meadows 

“What a huge difference it makes in worldview, in empowerment, in responsibility, in self-identity, in the qualities of imagination and courage we draw forth from ourselves, if we think of the future as something not to be predicted, but to be chosen!”


Seems Impossible, by Nelson Mandela

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


Come Alive, by Howard Thurman

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”


Joy in Doing What You are Doing Well, by Buckminster Fuller

“There is no joy equal to that of being able to work for all humanity and doing what you’re doing well.”


Winning an Argument, by Joanna Macy

“Do we really think we are going to get to sustainability by winning an argument?”


Farmer as Weaver, by Aldo Leopold

“It is the individual farmer who must weave the greater part of the rug on which America stands.  Shall he weave into it only the sober yarns which warm the feet, or also some of the colors which warm the heart and eye?”


Morality is Practical, by Donella Meadows

“Morality is not only soul-satisfying, it is deeply practical. It is the rules for how to make society work, now expanded for the rules for how to make society on this planet work.”


Guiding Principle, by Buckminster Fuller 

“Guiding principle: To make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone.”


Terry Tempest Williams

“Rather than fear the wilderness ahead, even climate change, we are present inside it. Fear is replaced with engagement. Relationships are forged, resiliency as a species is enhanced.”

We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more.

—Being More, from the Earth Charter


Harmonious Balanced System, by Aldo Leopold

“There are two ways to apply conservation to land.  One is to superimpose some particular practice upon the pre-existing system of land-use, without regard to how it fits or what it does to or for other interests involved.  The other is to reorganize and gear up the farming, forestry, game cropping, erosion control, scenery, or whatever other values may be involved so that they collectively comprise a harmonious balanced system of land use.”


Harmony Between Men and Land, by Aldo Leopold

“Conservation means harmony between men and land.  When land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land; when both end up better by reason of their partnership, we have conservation.  When one or the other grows poorer, we do not.”


World’s Troubles, by John Sloan Dickey

“The world’s troubles are your troubles … and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.”


Thousands of Leaders, by Ariyaratne

“Our problems and yours are common problems, and we have to find a common philosophy. I dream of committed people everywhere sharing a universal awakening, seeing that the wellbeing of humanity is interlinked. Wherever people suffer, let us share, and let us have not one leader, not ten or a hundred leaders, but thousands of leaders, everywhere.”


Manage Land in the Interest of the Community, by Aldo Leopold

“The average citizen, especially the landowner, has an obligation to manage his land in the interest of the community, as well as in his own interest.  The fallacious doctrine that the government must subsidize all conservation not immediately profitable for the private landowner will ultimately bankrupt either the treasury, or the land, or both.  The nation needs, and has a right to expect, the private landowner to use his land with foresight, skill, and regard for the future.”


Common Concept of Land, by Aldo Leopold

“It seems possible, though, that [the] prevailing failure of economic self-interest as a motive for better land use has some connection with the failure of the social and natural sciences to agree with each other, and with the landholder, on a common concept of land.  This may not be it, but ecology, as the fusion point of sciences and all the land uses, seems to me the place to look.”


Farmer’s Self Portrait, by Aldo Leopold

“The landscape of any farm is the owner’s portrait of himself.  Conservation implies self-expression in that landscape, rather than blind compliance with economic dogma.”

If you depend upon a place for your life and your livelihood, you have to take care of that place or suffer the consequences, a lesson learned and re-learned by many generations over time. As a result of those hard earned lessons, ecological principles have been incorporated as metaphysical as well as practical rules for human conduct.

—Depend Upon a Place, by Gregory Caiete


Beyond the Limits, by Donella Meadows

“I call the transformed world toward which we can move ‘sustainable,’ by which I mean a great deal more than a world that merely sustains itself unchanged. I mean a world that evolves, as life on earth has evolved for three billion years, toward ever greater diversity, elegance, beauty, self-awareness, interrelationship, and spiritual realization.”


We Must Persist, by Wangari Maathai

“It is evident that many wars are fought over resources, which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserve our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur…so, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace…those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act. We must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.”


Conservation is a Positive Exercise, by Aldo Leopold

“Conservation… is keeping the resource in working order, as well as preventing over-use.  Resources may get out of order before they are exhausted, sometimes while they are still abundant.  Conservation, therefore, is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence or caution.”


Agriculture: Utility and Beauty, by Aldo Leopold

“The true problem of agriculture, and all other land-use, is to achieve both utility and beauty, and thus permanence.  A farmer has the same obligation to help, within reason, to preserve the biotic integrity of his community as he has, within reason, to preserve the culture which rests on it.  As a member of the community, he is the ultimate beneficiary of both.”