Posted on January 21, 2014 by Submitted

Many folks have expressed concern about the trajectory and tone of local public policy discussion. How do we include, acknowledge and integrate the diversity of community stakeholders in Sonoma?

A framework can be found in the principles of full cost accounting. The critical idea here is of a triple bottom line that includes and equally weights economic, social and environmental factors. The TBL approach is a tactic, a strategy, not an ideological position. To me it makes too much sense; three legs of a stool have to balance.

Too often public discourse ends up in positional conflicts where critical and legitimate interests (legs of the stool) end up talking past each other. Human endeavors are full of conflict, everyone with their own locked-in narrative and isolated sets of facts. Looking at this bellicose landscape we imagine ways we could be smarter, a way to collectively go forward with eyes open. I submit here: if we want to be smart, pragmatic, and do the best we can with the hand we’re dealt, let’s step back from all or nothing zero sum games and move to a triple bottom line. TBL gives everyone a seat at the table and a framework for balancing how policy moves forward.

I suggest for people who find their values to be primarily economic, environmental or social, that they seriously look into how working with a triple bottom line can open the field and create a context for more productive dialogue. The TBL framework can be applied to groundwater, zoning, labor, business practice, government, anything we do. Most importantly it provides a compelling context for the interests of all parties to be heard and fairly considered.

We can’t go on as if whatever one leg of our common stool can have priority over the others; that just doesn’t work. If everyone wants to claim justice and sustainable principles, the triple bottom line is the road map. With a TBL approach, getting all the power and majority rule is not the object. The object is a balanced pragmatism, working a package of economic health, social equity and environmental sustainability as the combined, triple bottom line.

Fred Allebach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>