Acorn Ideas

Issue No. 25, August 2014


Our United States cling to some cherished city linkages and equally cherished rivalries. The Gulf Coast’s ports, Minnesota’s twins, and Oregon’s and Maine’s Portlands share important cultural ties. And generations from New York, Houston and No-Cal have nourished deep-seeded rivalries with their counterparts in Boston, Dallas and So-Cal. In each case, it is the similarities of the cities’ cultures that form and strengthen their covalent bonds.

What is to be said, then, of Houston and Boston? On paper, the two couldn’t be more polar examples of urban Americana. Boston: the quaint, compact city upon a hill, built and still defined by the puritan ethic. We are proud, inward-looking and determined. We are among the world’s worst drivers, and we take pride in ignoring this. Houston: the sprawling, intercontinental buzz of energy, built and still defined by a belief in the power of personal liberty and responsibility. We may be braggers, but we know it really “ain’t braggin’ if it’s true”. We are among the world’s worst drivers, and we take pride in showing it.

Acorn International has offices in two cities – Houston and Boston. In Boston, we draw on talent, alliances and ideas that have helped make this country globally competitive for centuries. In Houston, we draw on the talent, diversity and global business leadership that have fueled the country’s growth and will continue to do so for generations to come. From both, we draw the synergies that distinguish our consulting services.

I live in these two cities. I hear my fellow Bostonians, many of whom have never spent time in Texas, say they can’t imagine ever living in Houston or Texas. And I hear my friends in Houston wondering how anyone could live and work with people as persnickety as a Bostonian like me. But I was born to love Boston despite its cold, expensive and impatient grip, and I have grown to love Houston despite its blistering glow of neon and concrete.

Maybe these two great cities are best associated not for any hard-found similarities, but for their dis-similarities and interdependencies. Does a frigid February misery trump that of a searing July? Does an organism of 650,000 components cope with growth constrictions better than one with over 2 million copes with daily expansion? And does a fan-base that is tortured for its love of football suffer more than a “nation” that is tortured for its love of baseball?

What Boston incubates, Houston commercializes and applies. (The transfer of MIT’s and Woods Hole’s deepwater exploration technology to Houston is crossed by the transfer of a high tech regasification mono-buoy to Boston Harbor.) Insular Boston needs the gateway of Houston’s ports, beta tests and growing young work force. High-voltage Houston needs the disciplined foundation of Boston’s established financial and academic networks. Ying needs its Yang. Felix needs Oscar.

As a company, and as individuals, we are blessed to be in and of both cities. Their differences strengthen us, make us more resilient, and broaden the aperture of our perspectives. Their distinctive pasts make us proud, and their promising futures give us energy to grow - and maybe to brag just a little.

Acorn Ideas

Acorn Ideas is a series of periodic papers to share ideas regarding EHSS and sustainability management for international industry.

Issue 24 - July 2014: Land Tenure and Property Rights - Where Legal Compliance May Not Be Enough
Issue 23 - May 2014: 3 Things I Learned in Mexico - Non-technical Risks in the Oil Industry
Issue 22 - April 2014: Capacity Building on Stakeholder Engagement
Issue 21 - March 2014: Above-ground Facilities and Stakeholder Engagement: Deploying the 'CAC'
Issue 20 - March 2014: A Starting Point for Shared Equity
Issue 19 - March 2014: What It Takes to Run a Great Consulting Firm
Issue 18 - February 2014: Considering Human Rights - Trends and Lessons in Oil and Gas Impact Assessments
Issue 17 - June 2013: Managing Environmental Health in International Development Projects
Issue 16 - January 2013: Integrating Environmental and Social Performance throughout the Project Lifecycle
Issue 15 - January 2013: The State of Shale Play in 2013
Issue 14 - August 2012: Building Environmental and Social Governance in Host Countries
Issue 13 - May 2012: Human Rights and Business: A New Era
Issue 12 - February 2012: Extractive Industries Confront Pressure for Greater Transparency
Issue 11 - January 2012: Key Updates to the IFC Sustainability Policy and Performance Standards
Issue 10 - June 2011: Oil & Gas and NGOs: New Rules of Engagement?
Issue 9 - February 2010: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 8 - January 2009: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 7 - May 2008: Top Ten Lessons Learned About Health Impact Assessment
Issue 6 - January 2008: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 5 - September 2007: Results of web forum with our International Partners
Issue 4 - January 2007: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 3 - May 2006: Suggestions and tips for safe international travel
Issue 2 - January 2006: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 1 - November 2005: The Top 10 “unspoken" criteria for determining the success of EIAs


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