Process

The Core Concepts below will guide the ECI program for participating innovators. Those who come to Elk will be immersed in the Framework for Mindful Sustainable Innovation (also below), a mindset we hope they take back to their practices, whether in traditional business, the arts, or academic arenas.

Framework for Mindful Sustainable Innovation

ECI is founded on the belief that meeting our present challenges requires deliberate disconnection from and reexamination of traditional modes of innovation. Our primary objective is for participants to return to their work focused on harnessing the powerful capability of humans to design a future guided by Mindful Sustainable Innovation.

Mindful Sustainable Innovators not only discover new knowledge and use it to accomplish something, they also:

  1. think first about the needs of humankind and all Earth ecosystems.
  2. aspire to create extropic forces in the universe, reaping rewards, but only in proportion to — and preferably less than — the value created for others.
  3. think compassionately about the global impact of any approach on all other life prior to its implementation, i.e., apply the Golden Rule on a planetary level.
  4. when working to innovate, treat their fellow innovators as partners rather than competitors.
  5. as they implement, work to ensure that new knowledge is used for the common good.

Core Concepts Of eci PROcess

The ECI program design will incorporate the following core concepts:

  • Inclusion of participants from a diversity of ages, career stages, disciplines, nationalities, and ethnicities
  • Immersion of participants in a natural environment that allows them to disconnect from traditional work patterns and old modes of thinking
  • Combining compassion with market-driven competition
  • Fostering and maintaining mentoring relationships between experienced innovators and promising young entrepreneurs or early career professionals through shared experiences in Elk, return visits, and an online network for questioning, collaborating, and providing the support needed for successful implementation
  • Recognition of research indicating that mindful connection to nature, mentorship, open source collaboration, and exposure to a diversity of perspectives all have positive impacts on innovation
  • Grounded in research on the human brain’s neuroplasticity and the power of mindful immersion in nature, the ECI process will evoke participants’ metacognitive awareness of the preeminence of compassion in sustainable innovation.

Origin of the Process: Forming Global Thermostat

The Core Concepts and Framework are illuminated by how co-founders Peter Eisenberger and Graciela Chichilnisky conceived the technological process, sustainable network, and blueprint for closing the carbon cycle, which became Global Thermostat:

Eisenberger and Chichilnisky started their collaboration by recognizing that capturing CO2 from the air using solar energy, and using carbon in CO2  (like life does) to make energy and structural materials, was what humans needed to do to live in harmony with nature. This process would close the carbon cycle in ways in which all countries could participate, as the inputs are sun, air, and water. As such, it combined Eisenberger’s notion about energy and Chichilnisky’s ideas about the carbon market and the needs of developing countries.

Eisenberger retreated to Elk, where he experienced the profound impact of the beauty of nature on innovation and further developed the technology.  Chichilnisky used her fundraising skills and network to find investor, Edgar Bronfman.

With the aid of the networks each developed during their respective careers, they integrated the technology and a business model that was economically viable without the need of government subsidy.

The key components in this scenario mirror the objectives of the institute:

  1. Bring experts from different disciplines together.
  2. Ask what the world needs, rather than what can make money.
  3. Commune with nature while innovating.
  4. Build a network that provides the support needed to implement the innovation.

To unpack these concepts and framework further, we’ve included some excerpts from conversations between Dr. Eisenberger and friends of ECI.