Documentaries come out every year, covering a wealth of topics. Ranging from biographical pieces to environmental awareness, no matter the issue it seems, there is a crew out there documenting the struggle and attempting to distill it into an enjoyable, understandable, and perhaps most importantly – convincing argument. The Prosperity film reviewed is no exception. It follows the efforts of a singular man, Pedram Shojai, the Urban Monk himself, as he navigates the world of conscious capitalism and how anyone can be the change they want to see in the world.
First, let us look at the man himself, Pedram Shojai. Shojai is a great many things. A teacher, a Taoist minister, an herbalist, acupuncturist, author, and a great deal many more things to boot. He has written several books including The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find success, Happiness, and Peace as well as The Art of Stopping Time: Practical Mindfulness for Busy People, and 2011’s Rise and Shine: Awaken Your Energy Body with Taoist Alchemy and Qi Gong. He is the man behind Well.org and their various documentaries and properties. Their newest offering is this Prosperity Film (review the trailer here.)
The idea behind the Prosperity film is the exploration of Conscious Capitalism. Pedram Shojai, travels the world, meeting with various enterprises, business men and women who are out there trying not just to build profits but also to do good. To understand just how that works it might be worth discussing Conscious Capitalism a bit more.
Conscious Capitalism, as depicted in Prosperity, is the means by which businesses and people work not just for the accumulation of profit, but also for the betterment of people and the environment. This is referred to as the Triple Bottom Line business model, representing not just the ‘anything for profit’ mentality but the importance of having happy, healthy employees, clients, and customers, as well as being a benefit to the environment in some capacity. All of the businesses Shojai speaks with during his world journey have some measure of this mentality.
During the course of the eighty minutes plus documentary, Pedram jets around the globe from South America, to Texas, to California, and more as he meets with people who are pushing their industries in these fields. His first stop is in a small village where the Kuna people are living. A friend of Shojai’s is there working with the villagers in an attempt to bring better business practices to the area and peoples as well as provide her business with the direct source for their product. This is one example of conscious capitalism, working for the material their company needs, but going for it in a conscious manner when it comes to dealing with the peoples and environment of those who have it.
Shojai jets back to America where he meets with people like Eugene Cooke, the founder of Grow Where You Are, an organization that strives to revolutionize the way people, the poor especially, look at food and teach them to utilize public land or small household plots to grow their own food. By eating these locally grown and adapted plants the health of the populace can be seen to improve. But it isn’t just for education. Cooke and his people take their locally harvested produces and sell them to restaurants who in turn build menus around these locally grown vegetables, herbs, etc. All of this is another example of the conscious capitalism mentality, both groups are in business but because they individually care about these issues, together they are able to find ways to address them, through the means of capitalism.
There are several more examples of such projects, including one that Pedram himself brings to fruition in the final act of the film, but the point remains the same. Conscious capitalism is the next wave of business, and a necessary one if there is going to continue to be a world to do business on.
It’s easy these days to think money is corrupt, that capitalism itself is a broken system but the truth, what the Prosperity film reviews, is that money is the means by which individuals can affect the change they care about. By shopping with companies whose morals reflect their own, by banking with banks who have conscious forms of investment, people are able to both use their money how they need to and also work to further their own agendas in the world. Conscious capitalism isn’t just for businesses to practice consciousness but also for their customers to vote with their dollar and invest in the changes they believe in and desire.