March 2, 2009

Yvon Chouinard

Excerpts from Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner, Patagonia. Published by Penguin Books, 2005. Cover photo by Max Mills.

. . . . . . . . 

"Our Values" as presented by Jerry Mander:

We begin with the premise that all life on Earth is facing a critical time, during which survivability will be the issue that increasingly dominates public concern. Where survivability is not the issue, the quality of human experience of life may be, as well as the decline in health of the natural world as reflected in the loss of biodiversity, cultural diversity, and the planet's life support systems.

The root causes of this situation include basic values embodied in our economic system, including the values of the corporate world. Primary among the problematic corporate values are the primacy of expansion and short-term profit over such other considerations as quality, sustainability, environmental and human health, and successful communities. 

The fundamental  goal of this corporation is to operate in such a manner that we are fully aware of the above conditions, and attempt to re-order the hierarchy of corporate values, while producing products that enhance both human and environmental conditions.

All decisions of the company are made in the context of the environmental crisis. We must strive to do no harm. Wherever possible, our acts should serve to decrease the problem.

. . . . . . . . 

The functionally driven design is usually minimalist. Or as Dieter Rams, head of design at Braun, maintains, "Good design is as little design as possible."

. . . . . . . . 

Patagonia's image is a human voice. It expresses the joy of people who love the world, who are passionate about their beliefs, and who want to influence the future. It is not processed; it won't compromise its humanity. This means that it will offend, and it will inspire.

. . . . . . . . 

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appear to be doing both. - Francois Auguste Rene Chateubriand

. . . . . . . . 

I'm a total pessimist about the fate of the natural world. In my lifetime I've seen nothing but a constant deterioration of all of the processes that are essential to maintaining healthy life on Planet Earth. Most of the scientists and deep thinkers in the environmental field that I know personally are also pessimistic, and they believe that we are experiencing an extremely accelerated extinction of species, including, possibly, much of the human race.

Thinking these dark thoughts doesn't depress me; in fact I'm a happy person. I'm a Buddhist about it all. I've accepted the fact that there is a beginning and an end to everything. Maybe the human species has run its course and it's time for us to go away and leave room for other, one hopes, more intelligent and responsible, life forms.

. . . . . . . . 

I don't really believe that humans are evil; it's just that we are not very intelligent animals. No animal is so stupid and greedy as to foul its own nest - except humans.

. . . . . . . . 

Photograph by Marc Riboud, 1967

...To expect corporations to function any differently is to engage in make-believe. We may as well expect a clock to cook, a car to give birth, or a gun to plant flowers. The specific and explicit function of for-profit corporations is to amass wealth. The function is not to guarantee that children are raised in environments free of toxic chemicals, nor to respect the autonomy or existence of indigenous peoples, not to protect the vocational or personal integrity of workers, nor to design safe modes of transportation, nor to support life on this planet. Nor is the function to serve communities. It never has been and never will be.

To expect corporations to do anything other than amass wealth is to ignore our culture's entire history, current practices, current power structure and its system of rewards. It is to ignore everything we know about behavior modification: we reward those investing in or running corporations for what they do, and can therefore expect them to do it again. To expect those who hide behind corporate shields to do otherwise is delusional. - Derrick Jensen

. . . . . . . .

I have a different definition of evil from most people. Evil doesn't have to be an overt act; it can be merely the absence of good. If you have the ability, the resources, and the opportunity to do good and you do nothing, that can be evil.

. . . . . . . .

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

No comments:

Post a Comment