Occupy Wall Street: A Movement in Search of a Vision

"Occupy Wall Street" is strangely lacking in demands.

There is palpable anger over income disparity, government and a never-ending jobs crisis.

But demands?

Not really.

This is a group with slogans: there is no plan to shape the future. This is a failure of vision. Planning is hard. Not only must problems be identified and quantified, solutions must be proposed, even solutions that might fail.

We featured PlaNYC in the current eMagazine, because it is a visionary plan for the people of New York. Its very transparency is a brave move to bring people together in creating a stronger New York. Tellingly, it is not GreeNYC, but PlaNYC. The emphasis is not on an idealistic outcome, but on the process of change. For many, the promise of "green" has failed to materialize. "Sustainability" seems a kind of walking in place: use less of everything, waste nothing, hold strong. "Green" has devolved into an advertising slogan: yet another way to buy things to stimulate the economy--just "good" things that don't harm the earth.

Yet the green economy is real. Like all technical revolutions, it is a nexus of two things: need and possibilities.

The need is for a constant, reliable supply of clean and efficient energy, water, transportation and industry. The possibilities are endless for new--and sometimes radical--ideas that will provide control over our futures. It promises a more localized decision making process, as large infrastructure projects become responsive to state and regional resources and needs.

For the Fortune 500, the green economy is here, now.

The leaders are creating new opportunities in entrepreneurial partnerships, revised standards and the promise of new, eager markets. These companies are measuring their carbon footprint, planning reductions up and down their supply chain, and finding ways to profit from renewable energies that are under their control. Billions of dollars are already flowing into companies that are developing biologic replacements for petroleum; innovating the grids that balance load, demand, storage and renewables; using nano-technologies to speed processes and design new elements. Many of these companies are helping to define and support the next generations of regulations for a cleaner economy. They are not afraid of the future--certainly not China. They see the selling, deploying and licensing of U.S. innovation as the future.

It is a heady vision, one that has something for everyone. There's high financing for infrastructure, energy and water projects; building for engineers, plumbers, electricians and construction workers; innovation for universities; services for measurement experts, designers and business consultants; policy and contracts for law firms; and new technologies for utilities and gas companies.

But it won't happen without leaders invested in a comprehensive futurism that includes planning for new partnerships between government, industry, finance and private investment. It is no longer about conservative or liberal, but about how to best use all our resources so that we can benefit from the green economy. Occupy Wall Street is an inchoate growl. The danger is that growl will become a roar without a commitment to a strategic vision for the great possibilities in a low carbon future.