Posted by: Mr. Austin | September 26, 2010

Ecotourism, Slavery and Sustainable Business

Alaska’s Inside Passage from

Blue Planet Almanac has evolved into a radio news magazine which provides interesting perspectives on many, many things.

This Monday’s show at 8 AM Los Angeles time will feature Kelly Bricker, chairwoman of the The International Ecotourism Society, Kevin Bales, co-founder of Free the Slaves and Mike Flynn, co-founder of Opportunity Green‘s innovative business conference. So in one show you can plan your next vacation, take action on slavery and get involved in a cutting-edge sustainable business activity.


Here’s a simple thought for you: with all your interest in preserving the Earth for your children, have you lately or actually gone someplace beautiful? Everyone needs regular, long vacations. And, one of the best ways to understand and appreciate what you’re doing is to go have some fun doing it. Sustainable tourism is already here, right now, and you can find gorgeous places which hadn’t occurred to you.

Kelly Bricker of The International Ecotourism Society

To tell us about how you can do this, we’ll be talking with Kelly Bricker, The International Ecotourism Society‘s chairwoman. Kelly is Associate Professor at the University of Utah in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, and has “worked as a river guide and program director for Sobek Expeditions, OARS and World Heritage Travel Group, visiting wild places in over 30 countries. With her husband Nathan, she developed an ecotourism operation called Rivers Fiji.”

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is “the world’s oldest and largest international ecotourism association,” and “seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, and sustainable travel.” It’s their 20th anniversary this year.

TIES’ mission promotes ecotourism, the “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”

For example, TIES has well-established programs like its ecoDestinations community, its ecoAuctions, and its Travel Green Guide which includes travel agencies who promote sustainability. They even have an Experts Bureau with pros in a variety of disciplines. Through its extensive advice and contacts TIES can help you plan something beautiful for yourself that you’ll always remember.

Slavery in the U.S. and Worldwide

So, now on a sobering note, how many of us know slavery is a concern these days? Even in North America. When I attended Free the Slaves 2009 Freedom Awards event, I didn’t. The idea seemed surreal and unbelievable. But Carla Gugino, Demi Moore, Camilla Belle, Ashton Kutcher and Isabel Allende knew, and they were there. I was stunned speechless. Real people with real stories of enslaved captivity spoke in person.

Freedom Award winner Sina Vann with Kutcher and Moore. Click to enlarge.

There’s even a National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline to report suspected slavery. At the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2009 event, Hilda Solis, Melanne Verveer, Mira Sorvino and Julia Ormond all appeared in support to end human trafficking.

Even before the 2009 Freedom Awards, for example, after seeing the 2006 movie Blood Diamond the idea of slavery as a modern economic force hadn’t soaked in, because I didn’t understand modern-day slavery’s massive scope.

I’m told there are around 27,000,000 of us in the world now enslaved. And there are six figures of us inside the borders of the United States.

Kevin Bales. Click to enlarge.

At the 2009 Freedom Awards I vowed to myself do what I could to spread the word about modern slavery. So here we are now, and we’ll have the privilege of speaking with Free the Slaves’ co-founder Kevin Bales about what can be done.

Kevin has spent much of the last year afield doing research for a new book. When we first discussed the idea of bringing him on the show, he mentioned the idea that slavery is a practice which uses tremendously destructive, non-sustainable activities like slash & burn forest clearing and mining. Of course that makes sense when you think about it; someone who’s willing to be a slaver isn’t going to care a whit about environmental problems.

Free the Slaves’ 2010 Freedom Awards are scheduled for November 7. They report that: “Every one of us, every day, touches, wears, and eats products tainted with slavery. Slave-made goods and commodities are everywhere in our lives: cotton, coffee, cocoa, steel, rugs and cell phones. And the list goes on.”

Charcoal slavery in Brazil. Courtesy Free the Slaves. Click to enlarge.

And that: “Slaves can be found in all 50 states, working as farmhands, domestics, sweatshop and factory laborers, gardeners, restaurant and construction workers, and as victims of sexual exploitation. As citizens, we need to recognize the warning signs, know what to do with our suspicions, and be ready to help survivors who’ve been rescued.”

Listen to Kevin’s message on Blue Planet Almanac about modern day slavery, and how you can help solve it.

Opportunity Green 2010

Having known Opportunity Green’s co-founder, Mike Flynn, for a year now, I’ve attended two of his organization’s business trade shows. There are a variety of unique things about Opportunity Green, its speakers, and attendees. Each of them is savvy about sustainability, each of them has particular expertise in looking down humanity’s most newly adopted footpath, and each of them stand a much greater than average chance to create their own future.

Michelle Rodriguez of Avatar, Nicole Landers of iOS Light and Mike Flynn. Click to enlarge.

Daniel Goleman, author of the book Ecological Intelligence, co-author of the audio Ecological Awareness, co-author of the audio The Radical Horizon: A Primer on Business Sustainability, and co-author of the audio Leading the Necessary Revolution, as well as his famous tome Emotional Intelligence – believes that the emerging market for business in sustainability represents one of the most lucrative opportunities in the next 50 years. Think about that and let it soak in.

Whatever expert or common-sensical business prophet you follow, it seems axiomatic that one of the two biggest ways we’re gonna dig ourselves out of the environmental holes we’ve fallen into is to allow people to make money on the changes we need.

Among its activities, Opportunity Green stages its OG25 competition, awarding big attention to the most innovative, worthwhile, ecologically intelligent start-up business. This year’s $25,000 BBMG bucks and a $1,000 Office Depot shopping spree for the winner couldn’t hurt, either ;) Zimride‘s innovative ridesharing program took top honors.

Rick Ridgway of environmental legend Patagonia. Click to enlarge.

Every year for the past four, Opportunity Green has assembled the best and brightest in design, sustainability and technology to present their profit-driven solutions to helping save the world. Leading energy companies, new-product entrepreneurs, university think-tankers, journalists, outdoor products manufacturers, automotive manufacturers, business retailers, beverage manufacturers and investment bankers all attend. See this for the 2010 presenters.

But don’t be thinkin’ that these are simply grubby, opportunistic capitalists. Take a look at co-founders’ Mike Flynn and Karen Solomon’s manifesto:

“The Opportunity Green Manifesto

Opportunity Green inspires a collaborative culture of new thinking and unconventional ideas that pushes change in unexpected ways.


We’re not about business as usual. We facilitate the movement to transform business for good, through advancing change and market transformation by providing open-minded professionals unprecedented approaches to sustainability that are bankable and exciting. In everything we do, we seek to balance the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

Our purpose is to fill your head with knowledge you can use: ideas, new trends, amazing ingenuity. We seek to create forums diverse in content that generate dialogue and create valuable connections between individuals. This revolves around helping transform business as usual by partnering with extraordinary visionaries, forward thinkers, creative industry leaders and companies committed to building profitable + sustainable enterprises while solving some of the world’s toughest problems.

We believe in collaboration with individuals and organizations that look to push the envelope by creating a mutually supportive community that is invested in the future of our society and acts as a catalyst for positive change.”

Mike Flynn will talk with us about many things that will shape our futures as householders and business people. Listen in!

Blue Planet Almanac radio airs live with host Mike Austin on on the 4th Monday of each month at 8:00 A.M. Pacific Time. Blue Planet Almanac is also re-broadcast later in the week and shows are archived three days after airtime at that same site, with some available through the links below. is an all-positive talk station and has over 3 million listeners monthly in 104 countries and all 50 United States.

Blue Planet Almanac offers thoughtful perspectives on conscious, green living on Earth. With fascinating interviews, breaking news and product reviews, caller participation about Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability are encouraged, including science and policy of importance to Earthlings. Listeners can have their say in an environment that matters or simply listen to leaders in their field. Join us!

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