Dennis Kiley of Mount Desert is the president of the EcoPsychology Initiative, which works to help businesses run profitably and efficiently using principles of ecology and psychology. PHOTO COURTESY OF DENNIS KILEY

Using nature’s principles to help businesses thrive

BAR HARBOR — A new business has planted its roots here, seeking to help individuals and businesses become more profitable, efficient and innovative by creating models that use psychology principles of nature.

“I think a lot of organizations are looking to run more efficiently and be innovative and resilient, and yet, they haven’t found the system that enables that,” said Dennis Kiley, president of the EcoPsychology Initiative (EPI). The group is based at The Counseling Collaborative on Dewey Street in Town Hill.

“The premises and relationships found in the natural world have real benefit when we apply them to humans,” he said. “A nature ecosystem, albeit different, has components to it that apply to human systems, like organizations and families.”

Principles of resilience, efficiency, innovation and sustainability, Kiley said, “provide a system for how to organize and engage, and then yield the type of leadership and impact that I think organizations are wanting.”

The term “ecopsychology” was coined in 1992 by author Theodore Roszak to refer to the relationship between humans and the natural world. The term is still new to many folks, but Kiley said initial reactions have been positive.

Business consultations with EPI involve a training period and continuing support to help the implementation of the program.

“We talk about how these principles are applicable to the organization and some low-hanging fruit that can bring about immediate and substantive change without dramatic compromise or sacrifice,” Kiley said. “Each of the trainings I’ve done has lead to commitments to [future] consultations.

“I’ve had directors and employees say that this helps move to the culture that they hope to have,” he continued.

Kiley studied psychology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick before heading to graduate school in California. Earlier in his career, his work relied on bringing individuals and groups outdoors to study positive benefits of the environment. But increasingly, he has wanted to focus on applying those lessons in businesses and organizations, meeting people where they are.

Kiley lived on MDI as a child, through middle school. He returned eight years ago and was one of the founding members of A Climate to Thrive, an MDI-based group seeking energy independence for the island. He also has served on Mount Desert’s Planning Board.

“I think the people who want to live here are not just interested in the bottom line, they’re interested in a quality of life and being part of a community,” he said. “Ecopsychology says that you can thrive economically and be really impactful, but you can also contribute to the betterment of the community, people and environment.”

Aside from Kiley, there are two employees at the initiative who perform administrative work and help build online seminars.

The website also offers a list of readings that have inspired EPI for those interested in the roots of the company.

“[We want] to have resources that are free, but also to expand and have paid programming to be a profitable business,” he said.

Aside from consulting, EPI offers retreats and workshops for individuals. Kiley is available for speaking engagements about ecopsychology.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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