Let’s start by saying that I think the Canadian tar sands are pretty horrible. The Alberta government is not coming clean with how they’re handling the environmental impacts and pouring billions of dollars into a single export (oil exports to US account for 72% of the province’s total exports) seems ludicrous when you think long term sustainability of the province.
That being said, of course we’re dependent on that oil (few options left) and the situation is complex. If you shut it off abruptly, we’d wreak havoc.
How do you handle a complex situation? You do exactly what Nancy Pelosi did on her recent trip to Canada.
- Meet a diverse group of important stakeholders (She’s met/meeting with environmentalists, the BIG energy hotshots, politicians, First Nations leaders etc.)
- Set the atmosphere to be comfortable and casual so people are relaxed and open – not defensive (casual dinner for good conversation)
- LISTEN She didn’t come to judge, she just came to hear all sides.
From my experiences with Art of Hosting, I’ve spent quite a bit of time this summer reading books like Fifth Discipline, Theory U, Solving Tough Problems, etc. that all exude the power of listening and talking in an open way for creating a new reality.
So far, the debate has largely been oil vs. environment. It’s time to move on and I’m happy that the Speaker of the US House is aiming to create a new reality.
“It’ll be an opportunity to spend an hour or two just having a good, casual conversation about the information we’ve got,” he said.