Reflections Through A Lens

ICOSA was started because our Publisher saw the downturn in the economy as an opportunity for all of us to establish collaborative efforts to make things better across industries and organizations - domestically and globally. Using stories of successful collaborative efforts, we hoped to spark dialogue and move people to action, through personal effort, donations, or other means. Recently, I met with a group of readers who were outraged by a story that appeared in ICOSA’s November/December 2008 Social Responsibility issue. These readers felt that our “lens” had been focused on the wrong thing. In their opinion, one of the companies we highlighted as an example of effective collaboration was, in their opinion, not at all collaborative or socially responsible. Instead of a model of how to build successful collaborative relationships through community development, they saw a culprit of harmful business practices. After vigorous discussion, I agreed to reflect on my responsibilities as an editor, if they would consider their individual and collective roles, in the complicit nature of the way things are.

I went on to share reflections on that issue through my “lens.” And, although they were disturbed by my actions, I reminded them that we are all complicit participants in extractive industries – especially if we heat our homes, drive a car, use a computer, or wear shoes. Everything we touch or do is either mined or grown – it is just the “nature of the beast.” I explained that it is a “lens” that sometimes gets lost in the conversation. A “lens” that sometimes is never considered.

In this issue, we have tried to compile stories that address both sides of the conversation. We expect, and hope for, debate and conversation that considers the “voice” of the author. There will be readers that contend that we have not been fair – but is that the point? I hope that there are pieces of each of the articles in this issue of ICOSA that push readers to reflect on opinions and predisposed judgments to consider another point of view. Shouldn’t that be the point?

As I reflect on my actions while compiling this issue, I know that I don’t agree with everything in this issue. NO – not everything is based on my opinion. As I reflect on my actions, my “lens” has opened to more fully consider the opinions of others. As I reflect on my actions, I am excited that someone is reading this magazine and thinking critically about its content – which is one of my goals! As I reflect on my actions, I know that we, here at ICOSA, are receptive to constructive criticism – it’s the only way we get better. As I reflect on my actions, I have recognized that meeting in the middle and considering someone else’s “lens” is a concept difficult to conceive for ideologues on any side of a debate.

As you read this issue on Sustainable Development: Energy and the Environment, I hope that you will consider the “lens” with which you read and remind yourself of other “lenses” from which to think critically about the stories.

The only way that we can begin to move toward a stronger, more collaborative nation, is to consider the “lens” through which we look as we reflect on our role in moving this nation, and the world, forward.