We are here to
RAPIDLY ADVANCE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
YOUTH to catalyze community sustainability
TEACHERS to integrate rigor with relevance for real-world impact
COMMUNITY to drive collective impact
Soon textbooks will become obsolete. Grades will be silly. Students will design and manage real-world projects as the community becomes the classroom, as teachers become expert coaches in problem-based learning, as the tired old industrial factory called school rusts away.
Meanwhile, the world spins.
We must rapidly advance the innovations needed for a much more sustainable future as fast we can.
Many of the technical, financial, and policy solutions already exist. We know what to do. It’s going to be a generational effort. Starting with these students, these teachers, this school district, this city, this county, this bioregion.
All students will graduate educated for a sustainable future able to solve problems and make decisions based on the nested relationships among ecological, economic, and equitable systems. The term “Educating for Sustainability” has become synonymous with excellent education for all.
“Meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Of course, you might enjoy these other definitions
SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS SANDWICH
When we use the word “sustainability” we are talking about the intersectionality of ecological, economic and social systems. There is no human activity outside this fundamental construct.
All our programs, projects and collective impact reporting protocols are based on what we call the sustainable systems sandwich.
The bread on top of the sandwich is the specter of climate change informing needed actions and innovative design in multiple subsystems within the contents of the sandwich.
Innovations in energy, water, and food systems, and in green building, transportation systems, & materials management for the circular economy, must be grounded in a deep understanding of the intersectionality of the environment, economy, and equity.
The bottom slice of bread keeps the systemic ingredients from falling apart in our hands as we bite into this work, chew, digest, metabolize and move.
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Think and act systemically
Sustainable communities take a systems perspective and recognize that people, nature and the economy are all affected by their actions. Local governments in these communities consider the broader implications before embarking on specific projects, and they look for ways to accomplish multiple goals rather than default to short-term, piecemeal efforts.
Sustainable communities possess a strong capacity to respond to and bounce back from adversity. Local governments in these communities prepare for and help residents and institutions prepare for disruptions and respond to them swiftly, creatively and effectively.
Sustainable communities capture opportunities and respond to challenges. Local governments in these communities cultivate a spirit of proactive problem solving to provide access to futures otherwise unobtainable and to enable the risk-taking inherent in innovation.
Sustainable communities measure progress by improvements in the health and wellbeing of their people, environment and economy. Instead of focusing on GDP, local governments in these communities use a broad set of indicators.
Live within means
Sustainable communities steward natural resources so that future generations have as many opportunities available to them as we do today. They also recognize that resources exist for the benefit of life forms other than humans. Local governments in these communities assess resources, track impacts, and take corrective action when needed so that they meet the needs of today without depleting what they leave for future generations.
Sustainable communities engage all facets of society in working together for the benefit of the whole. Local governments in these communities bring government representatives, community members and organizations together and create a culture of collaboration that encourages innovation, sharing of resources, and jointly shared accountability for results.
Sustainable communities allocate resources and opportunities fairly so that all people who do the full range of jobs that a community needs can thrive in it. Local governments in these communities actively eliminate barriers to full participation in community life and work to correct past injustices.
Sustainable communities feature a tapestry of peoples, cultures and economies underpinned by a richly functioning natural environment. Local governments in these communities celebrate and foster ethnic, cultural, economic and biological diversity and encourage multiple approaches to accomplish a goal.
Sustainable communities provide leadership through action and results. Local governments in these communities recognize their opportunity to effect change by backing visionary policies with practices that serve as an example for citizens and businesses to emulate.
Sustainable communities engage in continuous discovery, rediscovery and invention as they learn more about the impacts of their actions. Local governments in these communities track both performance and outcomes, are alert for unintended consequences, and modify strategies based on observed results.
These elegant principles were originally developed through a collaborative process by and for city governments. The process was facilitated by STAR Communities which has officially merged with the U.S. Green Building Council. They have developed a LEED for Cities & Communities program that incorporates the best of the STAR Community Rating System within the LEED rating system structure.