Thursday, September 28, 2017

Business saves the planet in Mark van Wijk and Pedram Shojai's documentary, PROSPERITY...

...and not just any Capitalistic business. Oh, no: It's "conscious business," rather than the unconscious variety we're evidently more used to, that is going to do the trick here. If TrustMovies sounds a tad unconvinced, this is only because it seems a little late in the game to be offering up -- as does the new documentary PROSPERITY -- a very small-potato/band-aid solution to something so major, even as climate change and warming/rising oceans flood entire islands and shorelines and cause hurricanes to hit more often and more strongly. But, hey: Every little bit counts. Or does it?

It does indeed, according to director Mark van Wijk (shown at right) and his subject/narrator Pedram Shojai (below) who together travel some of the globe to interview examples of this new-ish business trend and explain how Conscious Capitalism/Business works, while in the process helping just about everyone. It is indeed encouraging to see and hear some of these business "leaders" explain what they're doing and why: among them, Paulette Cole, a lady who owns ABC Carpet and Home; Naomi Whittel, whose cocoa business out of
Panama is also going great guns; and Thrive Market, which brings healthy organic food to America's heartland at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, among other businesses included here is Whole Foods, the main purpose of which, other than making very rich its owner, has been to provide the elite with food to eat (together with the ability to feel so good about their going organic) and has by now been involved in enough scandals to disqualify its inclusion. The recent sale of Whole Foods to Amazon immediately lowered many of the prices, but against Amazon's increasing monopoly on business worldwide, I am not sure whether all this will play in any kind long-term positive fashion. Of course, neither am I sure that our planet itself will play out in any long-term positive fashion.

The movie grows more interesting when it deals with a company like The Container Store that appears to be dedicated to its employees, who in turn seem very dedicated to their clients, us consumers. You can still make money, some of these business owners assure us. Profit will be there, but it will simply be a smaller one. Of course, that's anathema to many Capitalists.

Things grow even more interesting when we arrive at The Stakeholder Theory vs The Shareholder version. Sustainable investing -- and how to democratize this  -- comes into play, as well, and we even learn about banks that have a conscience!

The documentary ends with a section on how to act regarding all this and what, specifically, we, as individuals, can do. Shops more wisely, support businesses that give back to society, you know the routine.  Many of us have been doing this for years, so perhaps we can be forgiven for not noticing much change -- except for the worse.

Still the movie is beautifully filmed, and it is always encouraging to note even a dent being made in plastic recycling/reduction (toward the end of the film, no less than Proctor & Gamble gets involved with the native Panama community). In my estimation, individuals can help, but for all this to actually "take off," one might think a good push from government would be in order. Good luck with that.

Prosperity, from, and running 84 minutes, hits theaters (the IFC Center in New York City and Laemmle's Music Hall 3 in Los Angeles)  According to the distributor, the film will also be available via via's Global Online Free Screening as of October 5, 2017.

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