Welcome to Alissa's Newsletter!

This newsletter offers you the latest news and information about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as Fourth Sector activity in Europe and America. You will also have the opportunity to follow me on my journey through France and participate in an international dialogue about culture, and art. A la prochaine!

-Alissa Mickels

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Read about the latest news on Corporate Social Responsibility, green businesses and Fourth Sector activity in Europe…

  • Attend the first International CSR Forum on April 29 from 1-3pm EDT .  I am organizing a two-hour web conference in order to discover the most effective way to enforce CSR principles on an international level. During the conference, participants will be introduced to the main projects in Europe and the US on the proper method(s) to enforce CSR principles. There are FIVE SPOTS LEFT for those interested in listening to the CSR Forum. Please be aware that observers MAY NOT participate in the dialogue but are welcome to listen and provide feedback afterwards. If you are interested in participating, please email me at mickelsa@gmaill.com. Click here for the draft agenda.
  • Social innovation takes the lead in Europe’s agenda: The EU decided to adopt a Social Agenda to tackle the economic crisis by pushing ‘social innovation’ at the center of the Commission’s agenda after three years of relatively no activity. On January 20, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso told a group of social innovation experts that ‘the EU must find creative ways of meeting societal needs.’ Read more
  • MEDEF Code of Governance for Corporations in France: Companies had until March 31, 2009 to adopt a set of recommendations by the French Business Confederation (MEDEF). If they do not accept the recommendations, the government may take charge. See. L 225-37 of the French Commercial Code as from 1. January, 2008 concerning the compensation for executives in French company. Read the MEDEF Corporate Governance Principles.
  • The European Union revises its previous corporate governance code. The EU released a public statement on Corporate Governance and Executive compensation. Read More.
  • CSR multistakeholder forum on Feb. 10, 2009: The European Union held the second CSR multi-stakeholder forum last February. For all relevant documents and the web recordings of the conference, click here.

My reflections about France, Europe and America...

  • Criticism v. Optimism: A Dialectic Conundrum between France and the US: As a quasi-French ambassador for my family and friends who came to visit, I was obliged to answer such questions as: "why are the French so rude?" or "why do the French always criticize Americans?" These questions have led me to reflect a bit on the difference between American and French culture. From the many discussions with Americans and Parisians, I have concluded that both countries come from extreme ends of the same line. On one end, American's believe that anything is possible and immediately adopt a more idealistic approach to daily life situations. On the other end, French believe that nothing is possible, and must move from this end into finding a way to adapt or stretch the rules so that they are able to achieve what they want. Both positions are dangerous because they are extremes. If we are too idealistic, we will be unable to truly see the pragmatic obstacles that lie ahead. Yet, we must not be too critical either because to do so will dig a whole with no possibility for our ideas to manifest. In my very 'neutral' opinion, the best place to be is an ameri-francophone. ;)
  • Ordering the most expensive coffee in Paris: During our bus ride around Paris, my mom and I discovered the most famous cafe, called "Fouquet's Cafe." Frouque's is located on the Champs-Elysees and is frequented by famous celebrities. My mom and I decided to take our chances and scope out the stars over a cup of coffee. Although we did not see any stars per se, we were able to partake in consuming the most expensive coffee in Paris. It tasted the same as any other cafe... go figure.
  • Learning the hard way: How to properly introduce yourself at a French gathering: The other day, my American friend and I stopped by his apartment to grab his bag before going out to a jazz club. As soon as we opened the door to his shared apartment, we were faced with a socially awkward situation. Imagine: your French roommate randomly decides to have his French friends over for some cheese, sausage and wine. You, as his American roommate walk in resulting in a sudden onset of awkward silence. At this point, do you: A) immediately greet each guest by stating your name and kissing every guest on the cheek; B) wait until your roommate introduces each person and then give the 'bisous' (kiss on each cheek); or C) give a hearty wave to everyone shouting 'Bonsoir!'. If you chose C) you are 100% American and made the same error as my American friend. If you chose A), you truly know the subtle rules of 'French haute culture'.

Follow me as I attend conferences and events, and embark on unexpected adventures in Paris!

  • Conferences/events:
    • Attended European Multistakeholder CSR Forum on Feb. 10, 2009.
      • Summary: The conference reunited European stakeholders most of which were businesses, professors, and government organizations. There were two main problems that arose in the debate. First, the speakers were unable to agree on a definition for CSR. Some believed that accounting and reporting fell within the CSR principles. Others felt that such regulation has nothing to do with CSR. Second, most of the participants agreed that CSR principles must be more binding than they are now. More specifically, the commission should focus on passing EU legislation on a more strict regime for accounting and reporting for Non-governmental organizations (NGO's), as well as public and private companies, In the end, Vice-President Verheugen restated the Commission's decision to keep CSR principles as a voluntary initiative but added that the EU will gladly support any collaboration between stakeholders on binding agreements.
    • Visited The European Commission and the European Parliament in Brussels on March 28-April 2, 2009.
      • Summary: The Director of our LL.M. program took us on a trip to Brussels to visit the EU Parliament and EU Commission. We had the pleasure of meeting the VP of Parliament as well as many other members of the Commission and the Parliament. I was unable to attend the second day of meetings because I was sick. Nevertheless I took the opportunity to meet with Mr. Dodd, the CSR Team director at the commission. We had a very interesting discussion on the future of CSR principles in Europe and how to effectively enforce such principles.
  • Daily life a la parisienne:
    • Devenir une tortoise: Ever since I returned from winter break, I have been moving quite frequently. On February 7, I moved to the 6th arrondissement and then I had to move again on April 2nd. It has been a struggle but I have been able to reduce all my stuff to a turtle shell on my back and a rolling suitcase. I am still looking for a place to stay for a couple weeks in May.
    • Finished with finals in France: I turned in my last law school final on April 18th! My family and I opened up a bottle of champagne from Baden-Baden to celebrate.
    • Graduating from the Paris LLM Program: May 6th, I am officially graduating from the LLM program at Universite de Paris II. All in all, the program was a great experience and I would highly recommend it.
    • Graduating from UC Hastings: I will be flying back to San Francisco on May 15th in order to graduate from UC Hastings on May 17th 2009. Two days later, I will plunge into studying for the CA bar for two months and will be hiding in a cave of knowledge until July 26th. Wish me luck!
    • Abundance of visitors: Between February and April, I had more than ten different friends and family visit. Needless to say-when it rains it pours. Here is a brief summary of my visitors.
      • On February 9th -15th : Christian came to visit with his friend Oliver and Oliver's girlfriend. We were able to see Dita Von Teese at the Crazy Horse, had a great weekend out on the town, and enjoyed visiting the Louvre.
      • On February 25th -March 2nd: my cousin Kristin came to visit. We had so much fun eating Macarons, going to the catacombs, and visiting Chartres Cathedral.
      • On March 6th -14th: I surprised Christian with a surprise visit to New York to hang out with my family. We had such a great time.
      • On March 16th-March 23rd: My best friend Marian came to visit. We went to the mosque de Paris for a steam sauna and massage after which we ate great baklava and drank mint tea. I loved walking and talking with her along the streets in the Marais.
      • On April 10th -20th: My grandparents, aunt, mom and stepdad came to visit me in Paris. My grandparents have never been outside the US and had such a fun time. We took the double-decker bus to all the main tourist sites, took a day trip to Germany and were able to rent a beautiful apartment on Ile Saint Louis.



Inspired by beauty? Send me any of your art, thoughts, poetry, or creative projects, and I will publish them in my next newsletter...


  • MYRIAM GOURFINK at the Centre Pompidou : I attended Myriam's contemporary dance performance at the Centre Pompidou on January 21, 2009. The performance was essentially a dozen women dressed up in quasi-space outfits moving at an extremely slow pace to weird electric music for an hour. In some respects, I was hoping that eventually, the pace would pick up and there would be some sort of evolution in the story being presented. Nevertheless, my need for a happy ending was never reached. After giving some thought as to why I was so frustrated with the performance, I discovered some interesting aspects that the Myriam's performance evoked. First, Myriam slowed time down and allowed the spectator to question the speed of life. It offered spectators the space to assess the actual pace of contemporary culture. Does society truly have inertia? If so, where is it going? Is it a cyclical path whereby humans do the same thing over and over again? Or, are we actually heading towards a specific goal, continually transforming ourselves so that we are no longer the same...these were some of the reflections I have to share.
  • Louvre in April: I spent more than five hours at the Louvre last week. I still was not able to visit everything but I was finally able to leave Denon wing and venture into Egyptian art.
  • Wolfgang Mozart’s Idomeneo: On March 5th, I had the privileged of attending the play in Opera Garnier, the most famous and oldest Opera house in Paris. If you think the building outside is breathtaking, you will fall to your knees in awe if you enter inside. The play was just as awe-inspiring and captured the struggle between love and loyalty to Poseidon. In the end, Mozart shows that, in the end, true love always prevails but there will always be a price to pay especially when man tries to achieve equality with the gods.
  • PLEASE send my any thoughts, expressions, and/or reflections you may have after reading this!

©2009 Alissa Mickels