Interviews with the Leading Edge: Michael Ben-Eli, Founder, The Sustainability Laboratory

Michael Ben-Eli

Michael Ben-Eli

Today is an exclusive live video interview with Michael Ben-Eli, for the interview series “Interviews with the Leading Edge.”

In this series of interviews, I engage with people who are on the leading edge of transformational change, doing work to further the consciousness revolution and how it is manifesting in culture, politics and spirituality, in order to help bring along a more enlightened society.

Michael Ben-Eli is one such person.

Michael Ben-Eli is the Founder of The Sustainability Laboratory. He formed the Lab in 2008, in order to help address urgent sustainability issues facing the planet. The mission of The Sustainability Laboratory is, as they write on their website, “To act as a catalyst for accelerating the transition of world’s society and its economy to a sustainable basis by researching, developing, demonstrating and facilitating adoption of breakthrough sustainability practices, thereby expanding prospects, and producing positive, life-affirming impacts on people and ecosystems in all parts of the world.”

Michael Ben-Eli started his professional career thinking he was going to become an architect, and left his native Israel to attend the Architectural Association in London. But then a chance encounter with the legendary designer, futurist and visionary Buckminster Fuller changed the course of his life.

He attended a talk Fuller gave to the British Association of Architectural Students, and was captivated by Fuller’s ideas, especially his vision of a World Design Science. Michael had the good fortune to be invited to go to breakfast with Fuller the next morning, and although in awe of this visionary genius, he and Buckminster Fuller connected and Michael Ben-Eli started working with Fuller and his team on World Design Science – basically, designing a better world.

No longer was Michael going to be an architect designing buildings and furniture, now he was after bigger game. After graduating college, he moved to Illinois, where he joined Fuller’s team at the University of Southern Illinois. He also continued his schooling by commuting back and forth to London, where he pursued a Ph.D. in cybernetics, which is the field of understanding and managing complexity – in essence, it is the field of understanding how the world truly operates.

Michael Ben-Eli and Buckminster Fuller

 Buckminster Fuller and Michael Ben-Eli

After finishing his formal schooling, he finished up working with Buckminster Fuller and became a management consultant, using his knowledge of both cybernetics and world design science to help companies and organizations better design the way they operated and functioned. He started working on issues of sustainability, mostly with multilateral development agencies on projects in many parts of the world.

Yet, he saw the limitations of these approaches and projects, and ultimately he decided to take a sabbatical from his consulting work to focus on designing something new, something innovative, something that could tackle the world’s sustainability issues without being hamstrung by bureaucracy. After two years of incubating and developing his idea, Michael Ben-Eli’s vision was born: The Sustainability Laboratory.

His new organization would take a holistic perspective and feature cross-sector and cross-disciplinary collaboration. He called it a Lab because he knew that addressing the sustainability challenge required going beyond mere adjustments in existing patterns of doing things to fundamentally changing the way people manage human affairs.

He also knew that the unprecedented nature of the required change meant that there was no tried-and-true operating manual, and that the capacity for thinking in new paradigms and pursuing creative experimentation was essential. Hence the concept of a laboratory, with connotations of exploration, radical innovation, going beyond the familiar, and breaking new ground.

Just as the great defense laboratories assembled extraordinary talent to develop destructive technologies, The Sustainability Laboratory’s aim was to harness worldwide talent to advance a planetary sustainability agenda, helping humanity secure the promise of its next evolutionary step.

He started to assemble collaborators, and now has implemented the vision. The first project to get off the ground was Project Wadi Attir, a model desert sustainable community.  Project Wadi Attir is situated on 100 acres in the Negev Desert in Israel, on what was once barren land. It is a groundbreaking initiative of a Bedouin community in the Negev desert, demonstrating an approach to sustainable desert agriculture, replicable locally as well as in other arid regions around the world. Using The Lab’s sustainability principles as a guide, the project is designed to leverage Bedouin traditional values, know-how and experience with modern-day science and cutting edge technologies.

In a short time, Project Wadi Attir has brought a barren desert back to life, creating a lush and diverse ecosystem.

Since launching this project, Michael has turned his sights to other regions of the world, to show that successful ecosystems can be created anywhere. The goal is to create ecozones in varied geographical locations. They have already successfully launched an ecozone in a Humid and Dry Tropics region in Costa Rica, and now have their sites on creating ecozones in an Alpine region in Bhutan, in an island region in the Galapagos, and in an urban region in New York City.

I met with Michael Ben-Eli in his apartment in New York City. There we talked about his background, what it was like to be a protege of Buckminster Fuller, and what World Design Science means to him; his studies of cybernetics and how that has informed his work; and his decision to embark on the creation of the Sustainability Laboratory, and how what seemed like a quixotic quest, of “tilting at windmills,” has sprung to life with the creation of what to some would seem to be a miracle – the sprouting of life in a desert region that was barren and devoid of life.

Michael Ben-Eli is a true pioneer, and an inspiration to all of us. He had a dream, impossible sounding as it was, and brought it to life, and for his continued work, he is helping to design and create a new and better world.

To learn more about The Sustainability Laboratory, you can go to

What do you think of this?

Summer cottage is prefabbed out of cross-laminated timber. Cross-laminated timber, or CLT, makes so much sense these days. Trees are renewable; wood construction sequesters carbon for the life of the building. CLT also is a form of flatpack prefab, where the sheets are cut to size at the factory and shipped on a flatbed, then assembled like a house of cards.



Interviews with the Leading Edge: Mike Bonanno, Filmmaker, The Yes Men

Mike Bonanno

Mike Bonanno

Today is an exclusive live video interview with Mike Bonanno, for the interview series “Interviews with the Leading Edge.”

In this series of interviews, I engage with people who are on the leading edge of transformational change, doing work to further the consciousness revolution and how it is manifesting in culture, politics and spirituality, in order to help bring along a more enlightened society.

Mike Bonanno is one such person.

Mike, along with his colleague Andy Bichlbaum, is both a filmmaker and leader of an organization called The Yes Men. Their exploits have been chronicled in three documentary films: “The Yes Men”; “The Yes Men Fix the World”; and “The Yes Men Are Revolting.”

Mike, with his work with The Yes Men, is a social and political activist, a cultural jammer, and a satirist and comedian. Ultimately, he and The Yes Men are pranksters, and the object of their pranks are the corporations and organizations whose p.r. propaganda machine spin facts to such a degree that these entities would have you believe that they are reasonable and responsible corporate citizens, when in fact they are spewing toxic hypocrisy and their only goal is massive short-term profits at the expense of the greater good.

Mike and The Yes Men shed light on the hypocrisy with incredibly bold and courageous actions. They show up at various public events – conferences and trade shows – and in the media, pretending to be spokesmen for the same companies that they are shining a spotlight on.

One such action they did was when they appeared on the BBC as spokesmen for Dow Chemical on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, which was the worst industrial accident in history. For the 20th anniversary, they stated that Dow was finally taking full responsibility for the disaster and was setting up a multibillion dollar reparations fund for the victims of the disaster. That sent Dow’s stock price plummeting, because Dow has never taken responsibility nor has set up a multibillion dollar fund, and Wall Street saw that action as harming the bottom line of Dow. This episode forced Dow’s spin department to address why they never have taken responsibility for the Bhopal disaster.

They have done numerous other actions, many of which appear in the three Yes Men films, including:

Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno's partner with The Yes Men, appearing on the BBC as a Dow Chemical spokesman.

Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno’s partner with The Yes Men, appearing on the BBC as a Dow Chemical spokesman

***Pretending to be with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and giving a press conference where they stated that the Chamber had reversed their position on climate change and was now supporting a carbon tax – this immediately appeared on national news while the press conference was going on, leading to a real U.S. Chamber of Commerce spokesman, in real time, appearing at the Yes Men press conference and telling the audience that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is doing no such thing. This made for a surreal scene as the real Chamber spokesman and the Yes Man Chamber spokesman each accused the other of being a fake, all in front of a confused and startled press contingent.

***At a U.S. Department of Homeland Security conference, they stated they were with the U.S. Department of Energy and to an audience of defense contractors, said they had a major announcement to make – that by 2030 the U.S. government will have phased out all reliance on fossil fuels and will only be reliant on renewable energy, and the entire renewable energy infrastructure would be set up on lands owned and operated by Native Americans. The audience of defense contractors took them seriously, and even seemed to be excited by this news.

***Right after Barack Obama was first elected president in 2008, they and a group of cohorts published a fake version of the NY Times dated six months in the future, and distributed it on the streets of New York City. The newspaper proclaimed many grand and wonderful things, such as that the war was over in Iraq, ExxonMobil was out of the fossil fuel industry, a maximum wage law bill was passed, the U.N. banned all weapons of mass destruction, and more.

I met with Mike at Rennsalaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, where he is a professor and teaches two days a week – the rest of the week he lives in New York City. There we talked about how the Yes Men began, what they exactly are, what motivates him to do what he does, and some of the actions The Yes Men have undertaken. Along with that, we discussed where we are going as a society in terms of the politics of our day, and how are we going to address such pressing issues as climate change.

In the tradition of great satirists, from Jonathan Swift, Voltaire and Mark Twain, to present day satirists such as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher, Mike Bonanno and The Yes Men, using humor and entertainment, have given us the ability to see and understand the levels of hypocrisy and b.s. that comes spewing and spinning from corporations and various organizations. It allows all of us to stop and realize that what these entities say is not the truth, and that the truth is much simpler, saner, and oriented towards the common and greater good.

To learn more about Mike Bonanno and The Yes Men, you can go to and also to To learn about their latest Yes Men movie, “The Yes Men Are Revolting,” you can go to



Interviews with the Leading Edge: Anodea Judith, author, “The Global Heart Awakens”

Anodea judith

Anodea Judith

Today is an exclusive live video interview with Anodea Judith, for the interview series “Interviews with the Leading Edge.”

In this series of interviews, I engage with people who are on the leading edge of transformational change, doing work to further the consciousness revolution and how it is manifesting in culture, politics and spirituality, in order to help bring along a more enlightened society.

Andoea Judith is one such person.

Anodea Judith is  a spiritual teacher/philosopher, a chakra teacher, and truly a Renaissance woman. She is a a visual artist, writer, musician, spiritual philosopher, a yogi, healer, psychotherapist, historian, mythologist, and keen observer of our social and cultural milieu.

Anodea has been called “a prophet for our time.” A groundbreaking thought leader who is the founder and director of Sacred Centers, her passion for the realization of human potential matches her concern for humanity’s impending crises — her fervent wish is that we “wake up in time.”

She holds Masters and Doctoral degrees in Psychology and Human Health, is a yoga teacher, with lifelong studies of psychology, mythology, sociology, history, systems theory, and mystic spirituality. She is considered one of the country’s foremost experts on the combination of chakras and therapeutic issues and on the interpretation of the Chakra System for the Western lifestyle. She teaches across the U.S., as well as in Canada, Europe, Ireland, Asia, and South and Central America.

She is best known for her book,  Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System, considered the definitive work on the subject, with over 200,000 copies sold in English and with additional printings in 15 languages. A second book, co-authored with Selene Vega: The Sevenfold Journey: Reclaiming Mind, Body, and Spirit through the Chakras, arose out of the popular Psychology of the Chakras Intensive, taught by Judith and Vega for nearly three decades.

Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self, released in February 1997, charts childhood development, bioenergetic character structures and Jungian individuation, all within the chakra model. This book is used as a text in universities and healing schools across the country.

In March of 2000, she released a six-tape audio course called The Chakra System: A Complete Course in Self-Diagnosis and Healing followed by the popular boxed multi-media kit Chakra Balancing, both through the company Sounds True.

Her artistic expression combines with her mystic passion in her award winning DVD, The Illuminated Chakras, a co-creation with her son, artist and animator, Alex Wayne. The Illuminated Chakras won the best-animation award at the New York Film Festival in 2004.

Anodea's new book, The Global Heart Awakens"

Anodea’s new book, The Global Heart Awakens”

Her most recent book, which truly is her magnum opus, is The Global Heart Awakens: Humanity’s Rite of Passage from the Love of Power to the Power of Love. This book charts the history of human development into our present crisis and necessary transformation, with an inspiring message of hope for our future.

And finally, released in 2012 and coauthored with Lion Goodman, is Creating on Purpose: The Spiritual Technology of Manifesting Through the Chakras, which teaches people how to bring heaven down to earth through the manifestation process of making change in our lives and our world.

I met with Anodea at the Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, MA, where she was teaching two week-long intensives. We talked about her own personal journey and her knowledge and teaching of the chakras, but the bulk of the conversation was the themes she presents in her book The Global Heart Awakens.

In Anodea’s new book, which is a sweeping panoramic look at history and where we are going as a species, she discusses what she calls the new organizing principle on which humanity is evolving towards: a heart-centered one based on the Power of Love, as opposed to the Love of Power. Yet, Anodea also differentiates between the love of power and the power of love, saying we need both love and power, because power without love becomes tyranny, and love without power becomes childish idealism.

Furthermore, Anodea boldly states in a clarion call that, “The future could be glorious or disastrous, and it’s up to those of us alive today to awaken.” She points the way to the answer, saying that in each of us lies the seed for conscious evolution, through the cultivation of our own imaginal cells.

This is truly an inspiring conversation with a brilliant, articulate and wise woman who clearly and directly sees and understands where we have come from and where we are going. You are guaranteed to be inspired on watching this interview.

For more information on Anodea Judith’s work with her organization Sacred Centers, you can go to her website

And I want to give thanks to the Kripalu Yoga Center of Lenox, MA, for allowing me to interview Anodea. For more information about Kripalu, go to


A Brilliant Idea That Is Making It Easy For Us To Help The Homeless

original-23As featured on Huffington Post and TedX, The Street Store is a revolutionary way to help clothe the homeless, by giving us the tools to effortlessly open our own temporary shop.

In October of 2014, we as a team organized a homeless lunch handout where we put together vegetarian lunch packs for the homeless in the heart of Downtown Toronto. Despite being simple in its nature, the experience ended up being quite the eye-opener for us, as we learned that it’s genuine communication, love and respect -rather than food -that is the hardest for the homeless to come by.


Image credit: TheStreetStore

Crystals have the power to hold energies

original-13The repeating chemical structure of crystals is said to invest them with a kind of memory. This means that crystals have the power to hold energies.

You may hold a quartz crystal with the intention of filling it with your love. This is what is meant by programming a crystal. All you need is intention and focus. The crystal will remember your love, which will then permeate any environment in which the crystal is placed.

Crystals can remember negative as well as positive energies and so will sometimes need to be cleansed.



Did you know that a nap during the day can improve memory performance?

original-14The BBC wrote about a University of California study comparing the benefits of 200mg of caffeine (the average amount in a cup) to a 60 to 90 minute daytime nap on various memory tasks. They found that a nap generally improved memory performance, while caffeine either didn’t affect – or worsened – performance.

The promised benefits of sleep have even persuaded a few firms to allow their employees to nap at work.  Recently software company HubSpot designed a napping room in its Massachusetts office that features a hammock and dim lighting.  Do you have a nap during the day?


Image credit: Jenny G photography

NYC joins 70 cities in banning polystyrene or styrofoam containers

originalOrder your takeaway and you can bet it’ll come in a polystyrene or styrofoam container.  Until now…

According to One Green Planet, New York City has banned restaurants from using them from July 1st. They contain a possible human carcinogen – styrene, and neurotoxin – which as well as possibly damaging the nervous system, carry an increased risk of leukaemia and lymphoma.

Because styrene leaches at a fast rate, the containers end up floating in waterways and are a risk to marine life.  New York is joining 70 other cities in its ban – hopefully others will follow.

Did you know that you can do a course in first aid for depression?

original-7Melbourne university researcher Prof Jorm and his wife came up with the idea of first aid for depression ten years ago.

According to the BBC, Mental health first aid training teaches participants how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and to respond appropriately. Since its inception the training has spread around the world, reducing stigmatisation and helping people to treat mental health like any other illness. Trainer Chris Morgan says “One particularly rewarding thing is seeing people realize that everybody has mental health in the same way that everybody has physical health and we should look after our own mental health”.

Would you be interested in a course such as this?


Image credit: Fredrik Broden

Food For Thought …



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