How We Built a Socially Responsible Company and What Inspired Us

Growing Dome Design

Why are we a Socially Responsible Company? Like so many environmentally aware people, I was really affected by the reality of the unusual super-storms of the past few weeks as the hurricane in the Philippines and the recent tornadoes here in the United States, took away lives, homes, and livelihoods. The Climate Reality project states thatAs you warm the climate, you basically raise the speed limit on hurricanes. From Long Island to the islands of the Philippines, we’re all paying the cost of carbon,” they say, “with dirty weather strengthened by the effects of climate change.” Read more about the cost of carbon here

Alternately, I cheer when I hear about a 19 year old entrepreneur who has an idea that could clean up the debris in the ocean in five years. I am heartened by the story of Buckminster Fuller predicting in 1972 that “it would take 50 years for society to accept that we could solve all the earth’s problems (even then) with the technology and science now available.”

As climate scientists agree and now declare that mankind has caused the degradation of our environment the question arises, “How should we work on this and how can one person make a difference?”  The hopelessness I felt on November 10th, 2013 when the news of the super hurricane came in creates a search for answers in me, for strategies, and for some way to contribute to the balance needed in our time. My despair is challenged by my entrepreneurial spirit and the determination to rectify at least what I can in my own little world.

This same awareness and quest was part of the founding of our company in 1989, Growing Spaces LLC.  Very simply our love of the planet and a concern that safe, organic food was hard to come by year-round in the Rocky Mountains, was the beginning. My husband Udgar and I wished to demonstrate that all the expenses inherent in heating and cooling a greenhouse could be cut, by using a passive solar design.  Bucky’s idea to “do more with less” and his creation of one of the strongest structures in the world, the geodesic dome, was the answer. Udgar experimented with his seven features for many years (even piping the excess heat from our clothes dryer under the soil of our growing beds one winter.)

Next year, will be our 25th anniversary of this venture, and I must say, not much has changed since the original vision. We now have more sizes to choose from better polycarbonate glazing and vent openers, options for upgrades, and an ability to add sustainable features that help increase the temperature in winter or cool in summer.

However, our idea that “Nature is our teacher” is still inherent in the off-grid design. For that to work, one must plant frost hearty plants in winter, and learn to grow in rhythm to a natural cycle. Often this attitude, which is contrary to the Western model of dominance over Nature, leads to a peaceful letting go and a timely attention to planting and harvesting differently. This is especially good for schools where kids are learning in their Growing Domes as a living laboratory for science and the practices that sustain organic food. The pond too, has finally been accepted as a water garden and a source of beauty, even though its’ primary purpose is to be the solar collector for the Growing Dome. Now, 25 years later, the dome shape is appreciated by many for its strength and ability to resist wind and weather. The function and beauty of the round space are added to existing neighborhoods/campuses with pride.

But, as we used to say, we are “More than a Greenhouse, we are a Way of Life.” That “way of life” is totally committed to the preventative medicine of good nutrition, to the quality of life in good tastes in natural food and to providing examples of alternatives to oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear power for our energy consumption.

Why? Obviously, because we know that “Civilization as a whole has health issues.” Mark Jones has said in the Mountain Astrologer this month that “Environmental issues along side depletion of oil and gas reserves will transcend political positioning as they become bottom line material realities (in the near future.) We are challenged to explore more deeply what it means to be a human being and live on the Earth. The Earth is a living home where the human being must find their right position.”

Like the legacy in Bucky’s attitude, optimism, and deep conviction that we can do it, our lives are devoted to the enterprise of offering solutions to the big picture of climate reality while nurturing clients with the possibility of fresh food all four seasons. Our individual passions are matched with our business purpose. Our love of the outdoors and off-the-grid living are the demonstration of Bucky’s truth – that quality of life can be found in sufficiency that uses smart systems and practices. We add to that our spiritual practices for vertical learning and a willingness to grow in emotional intelligence. Alignment of work and purpose for both our clients and our staff is a constant focus.

Our company is based on this sincere purpose and responds to a need for demonstration in our world. Plato spoke of four categories of great purpose:

  • The Good: service to others improving health education and communications and quality of life.
  • The True: discovery and furthering human knowledge.
  • The Beautiful: excellence and the creation of beauty.
  • The Heroic: courage to do what is right to change and improve the world.

These goals are inherent in our company values and culture. In an effort to articulate those, I will do a series of articles here on what each of our Core Values means to me and how these can be cultivated within. Growing Spaces is about creating spaces in which to grow good healthy plants, and also, we hope to grow in the people we serve, whether staff or client, a healthier whole lifestyle and awareness. In this effort we hope to support a more active relationship with nature and our planet and to become awake and aware of what we can do, to support and enjoy the gift of life. This is not an idealistic pursuit. It is a practical grounded commitment to inner and outer truth. It is a practice-based existence with a moment to moment awareness of the choices we have inside the human story. Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, has said “It is clear that we can build a low-carbon economy while unleashing American entrepreneurs to save the planet, putting optimism back into the environmental story.” As entrepreneurs we are committed to the inner awareness and skills needed to create those solutions, not from the level consciousness that created them, but from a new human understanding and capacity. This is called Conscious Capitalism by some, and I will be writing more about it in the next newsletter.

As I write, I am aware that there is much to say about how second tier value systems include the realm of being, or the inner life in those of us who would create a next generation economic system. My favorite poet, David Whyte, points to this in his description of winter. I leave you now with his artistry: The Winter of Listening

Happy Holidays!

Puja Dhyan Parsons, CEO and Co-Founder of Growing Spaces

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Puja Dhyan Parsons Former CEO of Growing Spaces, Co-Founder
Puja Dhyan Parsons was the CEO and Co-Founder of Growing Spaces LLC established in 1989. "Puja was the heart and soul of Growing Spaces and her spirit will always live on within the company and within each person whose life she touched. Her love for life and passion for nature was visible to all and she was a true light in the lives of everyone who knew her." Growing Spaces Staff

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