Diversity and InclusionResponsible Impact

Sacred: My Word for 2021

By Brian Nickerson, CEO and Co-Founder, MagicLinks

Choosing an intention for the year brings focus and a commitment to action. It allows space for days where we may not fully live into it, and freedom to choose to show up differently the next day.

As we continuously evolve into the fullest expression of its meaning, it opens up the possibility of wonder, surprise, and quantum leaps.

For the last 6 years, my words have been:

2015: Spectacular

2016: Bold

2017: Bolder

2018: Magic

2019: Limitless

2020: Zero Impact

2021: Sacred

A Look Back: Zero Impact

Choosing an intention for the year sparks a mystery that reveals itself as you dive into the full meaning of the word. I knew that Zero Impact would require massively transformative thinking and being, within myself, within MagicLinks, and within our broader community.

It started with a public commitment to live in a more harmonious relationship with the earth. In January 2020 these intentions were shared company wide and in short form on our team page.

As COVID-19 began to envelop our world, our focus on Zero Impact shifted somewhat into the more immediate social and communal needs of the time. These included:

  • Donating more than 2,500 masks to S.P.Y. and other local community organizations in the first few weeks of shutdown
  • Support of Black Lives Matter
  • Launching our DEI Task Force Team, which promptly instituted a 30% minimum BIPOC casting requirement for our brand campaigns
  • Launching of #MLTeaTime to listen and learn from Black leaders in our community
  • Launching the Responsible Impact Podcast, highlighting stories from sustainability and environmental leaders

In the midst of turbulent times, I was also faced with a decision about whether to continue working with Deena Metzger’s 19 Ways to the 5th World community. The commitment is apropos of the times: one 9am to 9pm Saturday a month for two years, and at least one four hour mid-month meeting, along with an extensive reading list.

Here is a portion of the letter I wrote to Deena:

“Dear Deena,

I have been holding this question in my heart since receiving your letter in June, outlining the application process and renewed commitment.

This morning, I went to mother ocean to seek guidance.

While paddle boarding with my co-founder and dear friend Chris, we were soon surrounded by dolphins. A couple of young families, with playful pups leaping out of the water near us. Watchful parents, guiding, supporting, and protecting their kin.

Chris and I both froze on our paddle boards, standing in awed, joyful silence until they moved on.

The feeling I received was crystal clear. I must continue this work.

I share the depths of this decision, and the dolphin-led inspiration to continue, because of its importance in my life, and the profound creative energy that Zero Impact has brought to my decision making.

I started reading, and reading, and then reading some more, specifically books written by indigenous authors. Those with radically different perspectives than my own blue-chip liberal arts education at Dartmouth and Harvard. I read more than 30 books by indigenous authors last year; these are three must-reads:

  1. Columbus and Other Cannibals by Jack D. Forbes
  2. Native Science by Gregory Cajete (which provides the prescription and the solution to COVID-19)
  3. Deer and Thunder by Arkan Lushwala

These considerations also led me to question how I could institutionalize MagicLinks’ commitments to be a positive force for change in the world. Through this I discovered the B Corp designation, which is defined as:

Certified B Corps are for-profit companies that use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. They meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

We embarked on a journey to evolve from a C Corp into a B Corp, and after nearly 300 hours of dedicated work, MagicLinks officially achieved B Corp Certification in December 2020, an exciting capstone to our teams’ Zero Impact efforts in 2020. We are particularly excited to hold the distinction as the first social commerce technology company to become B Corp certified, and our hope is to inspire other companies to join us.

Sacred: My Word for 2021

A profound change occurred in our world in 2020, creating an opportunity to create 2021 anew. I feel a profound obligation to connect with the questions and pain that COVID has brought to us, and to intentionally create a better world, now.

I understand deeply the desire that is commonly expressed to “get back to normal” or to “get back to the way things were.” I also profoundly believe that this is the wrong mindset to bring to upheaval we are all feeling from COVID and challenges to our systems and structures, including political institutions, financial markets, systems of laws, and how we relate to each other as humans.

Our world has been out of alignment and we have long been striving to rekindle our relationship with our planet. We are destroying our environment, our social fabric is fraying due to systemic policies designed to keep certain groups in power and subjugate others, our political system is not working, and the disparity between the haves and have-nots is growing immensely.

Let us not go back to a world destined for destruction and extinction, but go forward to a sustainable and inclusive world we create together, honoring all beings.

I believe this period of time, as we emerge from COVID, is sacred. And must be treated as such. We have the opportunity to create anew.

I am asking myself:

  • What do I hold as sacred, and how do I honor the sacred?
  • What should our culture hold as sacred, and how might we influencer, create and honor new collective obligations to the sacred?
  • How might indigenous peoples and the natural help us better understand the creation of and honoring for the sacred?

I was introduced to Aluna, a film about the Kogi people in Columbia, a genuine lost civilization hidden on an isolated triangular pyramid mountain five miles high in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

The Kogi understand the critical interconnections within the natural world, and as a people dedicated to caring for the world, they share their fear that “Little Brother” (that’s us) is rapidly destroying our existence.

They show us how to change our mind, and our ways, to let go of our view of human centered hegemony and to instead tap into our universal interrelatedness, and bring new actions from this connection.

I see the Kogi’s message of sacred interconnectedness starting to appear and unfold in my life, and in our broader communities, in 2021 as we collectively create a new world.

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