Posts filed under ‘What is Sustainability?’

Film Festival—Free “Green” Films

“Green” Film Series: 8 p.m—June 20—SandDance Theater on Wailea Beach.

The film will screen as part of a that includes the feature film Dirt: The Movie. Admission to the screening is free.

Free showing of:
SUSTAINABLE LIVING 101: Looking to Maui’s Past to Inform a Sustainable Future
    a SLIM documentary short premiering at this year’s 2009 Maui Film Festival.

DIRT!
    The Movie tells the story of humans trying to re-connect to Dirt – the living skin of the earth. For thousands of years we humans got along very well with this magical matrix of all life on land. Then we grew apart. DIRT! The Movie explores how we can restore and repair this broken relationship… before it’s too late.


Sustainable Living 101 addresses the urgency for addressing Maui’s most critical sustainability challenges and also raises the awareness of community initiatives currently underway. Featured initiatives range from locally based projects in the fields of sustainable agriculture, watershed restoration, renewable energy, and green building.

Sustainable Living 101 is a documentary short focused on raising awareness within the Maui Community and beyond of the urgency for addressing sustainability challenges at the local level. Several Maui based initiatives addressing local sustainability concerns are highlighted and their champions interviewed. This documentary short places special emphasis on approaching challenges by blending both modern and traditional technologies and practices. Local food sustainability, education and community empowerment are featured topics.

The film was produced by The Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) and University of Hawaii- Maui Community College (UH-Maui CC),

SLIM Executive Director Alex De Roode states, “In raising people’s awareness about projects already underway to address sustainability challenges within our own communities and informing them about how they can become involved in these efforts, our hope is to empower communities to create the reality they envision for themselves and to promote positive and meaningful change.”

Sustainability 101 was made possible by a grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation-Pikake Fund. The film is a collaborative project between SLIM ‘s Alex de Roode, veteran film maker Danny Miller and writer Janet Six of UH-Maui CC. SLIM is currently seeking support expand Sustainability 101 into a feature length documentary that explores sustainability within a Maui Island context.

June 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm Leave a comment

Ecology Action


Ecology Action
is a Santa Cruz, CA nonprofit environmental consultancy delivering cutting edge education services, technical assistance, and program implementation for initiatives that assist individuals, business and government to maximize environmental quality and community well being.

Since 1970 Ecology Action has combined municipal, foundation, and private funding to establish cutting-edge conservation programs, prove their effectiveness financially and operationally, and establish each program as a permanent community resource.

They seek innovative ways to instill environmental awareness, promote pragmatic change, and create opportunities for individuals, businesses, and community agencies to save money, create jobs, and contribute to a sustainable local economy.

Browse some of their current programs:

Bike Smart!
Promotes safe bicycling through fun, hands-on education programs at Santa Cruz County schools.
 

Bike to Work
Provides incentives, free breakfast, and support to get you hooked on bicycling as transportation.
 

Business Waste Assessment
Waste assessment software to help government and businesses reduce waste, save money, and promote resource conservation.
 


Clean Beaches Coalition
Ongoing beach cleanups including the Annual Coastal Cleanup
 

Climate Solutions Program
A leadership initiative to mobilize the entire Monterey Bay Area to radically reduce our carbon footprint.
 

Electric Bike Information
Providing reduced prices, safety and skill training, and increased service for Santa Cruz County residents.
 

Folding Bikes in Buses
Providing reduced prices on folding bikes and bus passes to promote bike with bus transportation for Santa Cruz County residents.
 

Cabrillo College Go Green
Choose an alternative to driving alone and you can make a difference in reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gases. For Cabrillo College students, staff and faculty members.
 

Green Building
Information about the design and construction of healthy, sustainable places to live and work.
 

Green Business Program
Offers free technical and promotional assistance to help you become a certified green business.
 

Green Gardener Program
Provides professional training and certification in ecological landscaping and helps customers find certified Green Gardeners.
 

Home Composting Program
Offers a wealth of home composting resources and opportunities for the residents of Santa Cruz County.
 

Household Hazardous Waste
Provides information about local and regional drop-off facilities and alternatives to traditionally used chemicals.
 

Integrated Pest Managment
Provides information and technical assistance about less-toxic alternatives to traditional pest management.
 

Livestock and Land
Provides technical assistance and cost share dollars for manure and land management approaches that protect water quality.
 

LodgingSavers Program
Delivers a comprehensive suite of rebated energy efficiency retrofits to Lodging Properties in PG&E service territory.
 

Model Schools Program
Reduces pest problems, flooding and erosion, and the use of toxic chemicals in schools.
 

Multifamily Recycling
A partnership with twelve local agencies and haulers, implementing comprehensive recycling and waste reduction programs at low income multifamily housing complexes.
 

Oil Recycling
Provides information about local and regional used oil and filter drop-off facilities for cars, boats, and farm equipment.
 

Our Water Our World
Raises public awareness about alternatives to using hazardous pesticide and fertilizer products in and around the home.
 

Santa Cruz County Recycles
Provides information that enables people and businesses to reuse, recycle, and buy recycled in Santa Cruz County.
 

Special Event Recycling
Offers recycling and waste reduction programs at events through technical assistance, outreach and education.
 

RightLights Program
Provides subsidized lighting upgrades and free professional assistance to help businesses lower energy bills and boost cash flow.
 

Tourism Recycling
Offers recycling and waste reduction programs at events through technical assistance, outreach and education.
 

Transportation Membership Services
Encourages member employees to use other ways than driving alone to commute to and from work.
 

Waste Free Schools Program
Assists Santa Cruz County schools in institutionalizing campus recycling, composting and reduce / reuse programs.
 

May 16, 2009 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

Focus Green Lectures now on Video

The January and February 2009 Focus Green lectures are now available at YouTube.

Focus Green 2009

May 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm 2 comments

Wikipedia on “Sustainability”

 Sustainability, in general terms, is the ability to maintain balance of a certain process or state in any system. It is now most frequently used in connection with biological and human systems. In an ecological context, sustainability can be defined as the ability of an ecosystem to maintain ecological processes, functions, biodiversity and productivity into the future.[1]

Sustainability has become a complex term that can be applied to almost every system on Earth, particularly the many different levels of biological organization, such as; wetlands, prairies and forests[2] and is expressed in human organization concepts, such as; eco-municipalities, sustainable cities, and human activities and disciplines, such as; sustainable agriculture, sustainable architecture and renewable energy.[3]

For humans to live sustainably, the Earth’s resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished. However, there is now clear scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and that an unprecedented collective effort is needed to return human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits.[4][5]

Since the 1980s, the idea of human sustainability has become increasingly associated with the integration of economic, social and environmental spheres. In 1989, the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) articulated what has now become a widely accepted definition of sustainability: “[to meet] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”[6]

April 26, 2009 at 1:22 pm Leave a comment

Sustainability 101 from the University of Minnesota


This article, Sustainability 101, is published by the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network.


Sustainability is the commonsense notion that long-term prosperity and ecological health not only go together, they depend on one another.

Sustainability means long-term cultural, ecologic and economic health and vitality. Or put another way, sustainability is about actions which are ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just and humane.

It has also been defined as meeting our needs today while ensuring that future generations can continue to meet their own needs. Sustainability involves preserving the natural environment upon which people and economies depend.

In 1996 the Minnesota Legislature defined sustainable development — the process of moving toward the state of sustainability — as “development that maintains or enhances economic opportunity and community well-being while protecting and restoring the natural environment upon which people and economies depend. Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainability is different from environmentalism. To elaborate on what Alan AtKisson wrote in his 1999 book “Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks at a Pessimist’s World” (read article): Activism to protect Nature from the ravages of the economy and from the typical American lifestyle (traditional environmentalism: the stick) is different than redesigning industry and lifestyles to fit benignly into the natural world (sustainable development: the carrot). Working toward sustainability necessarily engages disparate groups — labor unions, industry leaders, Wall Street, citizen groups, government, academia and others — as well as environmentalists. It offers people a bold, inspiring, very long-term vision.

Two well-accepted sets of sustainability principles—the Natural Step and Cradle-to-Cradle frameworks—establish conditions for how we can develop our products, services, our individual lives, our economy, and our society in a truly sustainable manner.

• What we take, make and waste: The inputs, products, pollution and wastes of our industrial society—originating with fossil and radioactive fuels, mined metals and minerals, synthetic chemicals, pesticides, plastics,etc.—must not accumulate long-term in the environment as wastes. “Wastes” must ultimately be compostable or remain in closed-loop reuse cycles that don’t contaminate compostables. All energy must eventually come directly and indirectly from the earth’s one perpetual source of energy: the sun.

• What we do to the Earth: Biodiversity and natural systems—soils, forests, water, air, genetic material—must not be irreversibly degraded by human activities. Healthy natural systems allow us to eat, drink, and breathe safely.

• What we need: The bounty of the Earth—food, raw materials, natural systems—must be used equitably, fairly and efficiently so that the basic needs of all humans are met locally and globally. Social, economic, and ecologic diversity that builds off the uniqueness of each specific place builds resiliency into geographic regions.

According to Minnesota Planning’s 1998 publication Sustainable Development: The Very Idea (read more), for human activities to be sustainable over time, they should:

• Meet people’s economic and social needs

• Use renewable resources, such as timber and fish, at a rate that can be maintained over time

• Gradually reduce reliance on nonrenewable natural resources, such as coal and oil

• Reduce reliance on and limit the release of toxic substances that do not readily break down in nature

• Use all resources as efficiently and fairly as possible so that present and future generations can meet their needs

• Use land in ways that meet diverse needs, conserve financial and natural resources, and preserve its ability to meet future needs

• Reflect the interdependence of social, economic and environmental conditions

• Preserve the integrity of ecological processes and biological diversity

Another way of thinking about sustainability is to note how communities often work toward becoming more sustainable. These actions often involve each of the following five characteristics (as modified from a discussion in The Eagle Bird: Mapping a New West by Charles F. Wilkinson, 1999, p. 108):

– holistic (combining environmental, social and economic considerations)

– place-based (rooted in a specific geographic location)

– long-term in focus (looking decades or more ahead)

– collaborative and inclusive (welcoming the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders)

– practical and results-oriented (seeking to make a visible and concrete difference)

For a checklist that details over two dozen specific criteria for evaluating the sustainability of proposed community projects, see see list)

For more information about the definition of sustainability, the following web sites are recommended:

Smart Communities Network:

Sustainable Measures:
Article that summarizes nine well-used frameworks of sustainable development.

April 25, 2009 at 12:21 pm Leave a comment

e² – PBS Ecology Series

 e² is a critically acclaimed, multipart PBS series about the innovators and pioneers who envision a better quality of life on earth: socially, culturally, economically and ecologically.

The series explores attainable solutions to pressing environmental and social challenges, and its stories are culled from a variety of fields including design, energy, transport, water, food and urban development. Episodes have profiled Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus’s efforts to bring renewable energy to Bangladesh’s rural poor through microfinance; architect William McDonough and his “cradle-to-cradle” design philosophy; and former Bogotá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa’s sweeping redesign of that city’s transportation network, emphasizing alternatives to automobile culture.

The 2008 season of e² was presented in two parts, “e² design” and “e² transport”, and will visit Cairo, Nova Scotia, Melbourne, San Francisco, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Seoul. Featured interviews include luminaries like acclaimed author Michael Pollan, His Highness the Aga Khan, and Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano.

e² is a poetic combination of compelling storytelling, provocative cinematography and an emotive original music score. Narrators include Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. Currently entering its fourth season, e² continues to feature new advances in sustainable living, adaptive reuse, eco-efficient transportation and more. e² is directed by Tad Fettig and executive produced by Karena Albers and Fettig, both co-founders of the New York-based production company kontentreal.

Click here to see previews and podcast summaries of previous shows from previous seasons.

Current topic and PBS Hawaii airtimes:
  The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious
     Thursday, March 19, 9:30pm
     Monday, March 23, 1:30am
     Thursday, March 26, 9:30pm
     Monday, March 30, 1:30am

Previous seasons
  Transport
     London: The Price of Traffic
     Paris: Vélo Liberté
     Food Miles
     Seoul: The Stream of Consciousness
     Portland: A Sense of Place
     Aviation: The Limited Sky

  Energy
     Harvesting the Wind
     Energy for a Developing World
     Paving the Way
     Growing Energy
     State of Resolve
     Coal and Nuclear: Problem or Solution?

  Design: season one
     A Garden in Cairo
     The Village Architect
     Melbourne Reborn
     The Art and Science of Renzo Piano
     New Orleans: The Water Line
     Super Use

  Design: season two
     The Drunk White Lotus School – Ladakh
     Greening the Federal Government
     Bogotá: Building a Sustainable City
     Affordable Green housing
     Adaptive Reuse in the Netherlands
     Architecture 2030

March 16, 2009 at 2:29 am 1 comment

Defining Sustainability-From Ray Anderson’s Interface Inc.

Sustainability can be many different things – a motto, an ideal, a way to do business, a way to live your life or a call to action. The term “sustainability” is often misunderstood and misused, and not everyone agrees on its definition. In 1997, there were an estimated 350-plus definitions of “sustainability” and “sustainable development.”

Generally, however, there is a commonly understood idea of sustainability – that is, the capacity for continuance into the long term. This concept surfaces throughout history, reflected, for example, in the “seventh generation” philosophy of the Native American Iroquois Confederacy, which mandated that tribal chiefs always consider the effects of their actions on descendants seven generations in the future.

The most popular recent definition of sustainability can be traced to a 1987 United Nations Conference and states that sustainability in the context of development is: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Report of the Brundtland Commission, “Our Common Future,” 1987)

Forum For the Future recently defined sustainable development as ”a dynamic process which enables all people to realize their potential and improve their quality of life in ways that simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth’s life support systems.”

Interface Vision
To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: People, process, product, place and profits — by 2020 — and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence.

Interface Mission
Interface will become the first name in commercial and institutional interiors worldwide through its commitment to people, process, product, place and profits. We will strive to create an organization wherein all people are accorded unconditional respect and dignity; one that allows each person to continuously learn and develop. We will focus on product (which includes service) through constant emphasis on process quality and engineering, which we will combine with careful attention to our customers’ needs so as always to deliver superior value to our customers, thereby maximizing all stakeholders’ satisfaction. We will honor the places where we do business by endeavoring to become the first name in industrial ecology, a corporation that cherishes nature and restores the environment. Interface will lead by example and validate by results, including profits, leaving the world a better place than when we began, and we will be restorative through the power of our influence in the world.

Visit the Interface website.

February 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm Leave a comment

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