The Developer | Michael Midghall

The inspiration for the Sustainable Lifestyles Game has come from a wide michael-midghall-bio-imagecollection of leaders and heroes in and outside of the Environmental Movement. Most notably, my life has benefitted from applying teachings and wellness practices in positive psychology, Yoga and Buddhism while ramping up knowledge about the environmental crisis and sustainable solutions for mitigation and prevention. For the concept of using a game methodology to address a serious problem, I feel indebted to Jane McGonigal and her book, Reality Is Broken – Why Games Make Us Better. For a solid foundation to understanding what sustainability truly means, I am grateful to Dr. Henrik Robert and his team’s work on The Natural Step System Conditions for Sustainability.

In 2006 I began my attempt to understand global warming. That effort continues to this day, but there has been a significant shift in focus from the climatological to the social and psychological reasons. Early on, I thought, incredulously, “global warming can’t really be true, or else our government would be doing a lot more.” My real understanding of how business and politics influenced each other had begun. More recently, I started pondering, “How is it that we’re stuck, unable to act decisively, on the most important problem to ever face humanity?” Fortunately, work by Harvard Professor of Psychology Dan Gilbert and Nobel Prize Winner (Economic Psychology) Daniel Kahneman answers this question. The human brain discounts threats that occur slowly (Gilbert), especially if there is uncertainty attached (Khaneman). Those who perceive this threat to disproportionately threaten their livelihood or wealth security are especially prone to not support measures or actions that will prevent or minimize the long-term devastation that global warming will unleash on unknown populations, at unknown specific times, by unknown specific storms and famines. Fortunately, many of us already know the time for action has already come. The Sustainable Lifestyles Game is an opportunity for those who are ready now to participate in an effort that can help minimize a death toll that’s already started. Unfortunately, many people are still not ready to act. They need to see more devastation, perhaps threats that hit closer their home, or their loved ones, before they will act. Whenever they’re ready, my intention is for this game to embrace them with arms wide open!

In 2011, guided by The Natural Step System Conditions for Sustainability, I began planning to make my business carbon neutral. This felt like the right way for me to take responsible action for a problem that Americans disproportionately cause. The graph to the side shows the progress that I’ve made, so far. The intention for the game is to spur similar results, and by growing the player base over time, to create meaningful CO2e reductions while increasing wellbeing.  Both of the goals are measured within the context of the game and will ultimately determine the success of this effort and its long term sustainability.

I was educated as an electrical engineer and MBA student. My professional experience includes sales (test & measurement instruments), marketing (high technology) and market & public opinion research (business owner.)

In reality, it is clear to me that everything is connected. The below list of formal training programs and experiential learning experiences exemplify this truth. In one way or another all of these activities, along with the efforts of the leaders behind this broad array of environmental and wellbeing wisdom, are true contributors to and thereby contained within the Sustainable Lifestyles Game.

  • The Natural Sep Network (TNS member 2008-11)
  • Completed TNS Systems Conditions for Sustainability Framework Workshop (2009)
  • Conducted & delivered Qualitative Research Study of Sustainable Business Owners (for The Natural Step Network, 2010)
  • Completed Master of Two Worlds: Manifesting Personal Sustainability in Your Life and Work workshop (Esalen Institute, 2011)

  • Initiated Fusion MR Carbon Neutral Plan (2011)
  • Led four Northwest Earth Institute Sustainability Discussion Courses (2012-15)
    • Voluntary Simplicity (Portland Insight Meditation Community, 2013)
    • Choices for Sustainable Living (Santosha Yoga, 2013)
    • A World of Health: Connecting People, Place & Planet (Santosha Yoga, 2014)
    • Change Is Our Choice: Creating Climate Solutions (Portland Insight Meditation Community, 2015)
  • Completed The Tao of Global and Personal Ecology: Making Healthier Choices in Our Daily Lives workshop (Esalen Institute, 2014)
  • Completed Putting the Science of Happiness Into Practice workshop (Esalen Institute, 2015)
  • Completed 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program (2015, Santosha Yoga for Every Body)
  • Completed The Eightfold Path course (Portland Insight Meditation Community, 2015)
  • Joined the environmental organization 350.org and started contributing to Greenpeace (2015)
  • Completed One Earth Sangha’s EcoSattva Training Course (with Brightway Zen, 2015)
  • Supported planning for the Portland Pilgrimage for Climate Justice (2015)
  • Completed the Agent of Change program by The Center for Earth Leadership (2016)
  • Already Awake course (Portland Insight Meditation Community, 2016)

As the above training, activities and experiential learning demonstrate, I am invested in and very passionate about environmental justice and wellbeing for all. I’m also an optimist that roots for David, not the Goliath!