Part Two of a three-part series.
Page 2 of 2
continued. . .

ECOTECTURE: Interesting. Have you had opportunities to give similar talks to management groups in other industries?

CAPRA: Yes. I talk to corporate executives, usually in the context of institutions that organize seminars where people from all kinds of companies come. For instance, there's an institution in Canada called the Banff Management Center in Banff in Alberta, which is very beautifully situated in the mountains. I regularly give seminars there. Also, I gave a talk to an organization called the Organizational Development Network, an international network of companies—and various others. That's where I discuss these ideas.

ECOTECTURE: Do you think the—I can't think of a better word—the stuckness, the immobility or the inability to change of these top executives or other people, do you think it's due to fear or vested interest? Do you have any ideas about their inability to change?

CAPRA: It's a complicated problem. It's a complex structure. It is certainly part of fear or maybe some kind of inertia, some kind of laziness and inertia. They don't really want to get into a new field, they've had all their training in one field so why should they get into a new field? It's also fear that they don't really know much about this; will they be smart enough to understand it? But also I think even more so, most of the reason comes from the daily pressures that if you are a top executive or a manager at any level today in any company, you have to hand in quarterly reports, you are asked about market share and you are asked about salary structures and the bottom line and the competitive nature of what you're doing. Today the competition is global, so it's not just another company in the same town; you might have to compete with a company in Poland or Sri Lanka. It's a global competitive game. These pressures are enormous.

I tell people that they
do have choices. They
can take time off and
organize themselves
in such a way that
they're not always
in this rat race.


Also a very curious phenomenon which I describe in the book is that because of the sophisticated technology that we use in our businesses today, we don't work less, as you might think—because machines, supposedly, were invented originally to save us time, to make things faster—but we actually work more. So people at many levels have to cut costs, have eliminated secretaries and assistants who would type things and mail things, and people do it themselves because they send it by e-mail. So all the contacts are written by e-mail, and so an executive comes home at eight or nine o'clock at night and spends an hour answering his or her e-mail. They go to work at seven o'clock to beat the morning rush hour traffic and have their first corporate meeting at seven instead of at ten. It all feeds into itself, and people work more and more. So they have very little time, actually, to think and reflect on what they're doing and plan how they could live better and work better. This is the reason why management schools like the Banff Management Center are located in beautiful areas in the mountains, where people are not all the time on their cell phone and doing their e-mail. They really get out to breathe and to think and to reflect, and they really appreciate that.

ECOTECTURE: Do they seem to respond well to that?

CAPRA: Yes, absolutely.

ECOTECTURE: That's good to know . . . . . What can one do to change the values that are so deeply entrenched and so "rewarding" or self-reinforcing to the corporate elite and the wealthy? Before you answer, let me surmise that part of your answer will be that we can educate people, but point out that there already is an educational establishment that is designed especially for the children of those classes. What I'm wondering is, and this will lead I'm sure to some discussion of the Center of Ecoliteracy, but—again, coming back I guess to the issue of how, given those constraints that you just talked about, the busyness of people, their inability, their fear and so on—how can we break through to those people or do we even bother to break through to those people or just go straight . . . . .

CAPRA: Actually, what I tell people is that the things that we value at the deepest level, and this becomes more and more clear today, just having time to go for a walk, to spend with your children, to reflect about things, to go to an opera or a concert or an art exhibition, to engage in enjoying art or even being creatively artistic oneself, to breathe clean air and drink clean water—the simple pleasures of life that really make us human are the most endangered today and are the most difficult to get. I tell people that they do have choices. They can take time off and organize themselves in such a way that they're not always in this rat race.

For instance, just switching off the television is a very good way to start because with the kind of television we have now, you don't really gain anything from watching TV. You don't learn anything, you're just being manipulated to watch the commercials, with rare exceptions which you can also have on video, you don't gain anything by having television. You can also switch off your cell phone at least sometimes. I may be an extreme case, but I don't have a cell phone, I don't use e-mail and I don't have TV. So these things that put enormous pressure on people, I just decided not to have them. I lose something, you know. It's often inconvenient not to be able to communicate with e-mail, and it's inconvenient . . . . for instance, I love tennis and when the Wimbledon or the US Open is on, I would love to have TV. But the rest of the time I'm better off without it and on balance, I'm much better off without it. The same with e-mail and cell phones. If I drive to the airport and I want to know whether my flight is on time, it would be good to have a cell phone. But most of the time I'm happier without it. So one can make these choices.

ECOTECTURE: One still has those choices. How does it work with you and your daughter not having a television?

CAPRA: Oh, my daughter is now 16 and we raised her completely without television, and we thought there would be big problems but there was no problem whatsoever.


CAPRA: She does watch TV occasionally when she is with friends in their houses, and she did so over the years. But then she also tends to hang out with people who don't watch TV very much. They watch movies, they have the VCRs and their movies, so she doesn't really—and now at 16, she is at an age where she sees the reason why we raised her without TV. So when she watches television, she sees how people are manipulated, how the commercials support violence and competitiveness and all kinds of values that she doesn't like. So I think that has been very successful.

ECOTECTURE: I think they also support the notion that you're not okay if you don't have . . . things.

CAPRA: Right, material consumption.

ECOTECTURE: I want to be okay, you want to be okay. But how do you be okay? Well, you go out and buy and SUV and that makes you okay. As opposed to going out and, say, fixing up your garden or reading a book. That's scary.

CAPRA: Absolutely.