How Do We Get There?
  • Education and outreach
  • MEGO vs. data poetry
  • Political will
    • Bottom up and top down

Talking Points
  • We need to educate people on the issues
  • We need to develop measures that speak to people
  • Sustainability needs to happen at the local level and at the national and global level to be successful
  • It takes political will to develop indicators that may show that current systems do not work as well as we have been lead to believe

I started this presentation by saying that sustainability is a topic that sounds more difficult to understand than it actually is. Hopefully, by now you all have a much better idea of what sustainability is. However, if you have a better understanding, you probably also realize that the hardest part of sustainability is actually achieving it. How do we move towards becoming a sustainable community?

The first and most important step is education and outreach. As a society, we need to become more aware of the concept: what does it mean, how does it apply to our daily lives, what will be the benefits of becoming more sustainable, what are the dangers if we don't move in that direction?

You are not the first group to think about sustainability. As we have seen, many communities and organizations have already begun working on the issue. Many of these groups have developed tools that you may find useful. There are also many resources available. I have briefly discussed some of the many tools available. It is time to start using them.

Another important step is for communities and organizations to develop an understanding of the measures currently being used to measure progress and how to better measure progress. MEGO stands for my-eyes-glaze-over, something that happens to many people when the subject of numbers and measurement comes up (Source: Pat Vasbinder, NH Charitable Foundation). Instead of avoiding the issue of measurements, communities need to develop ways to make numbers speak to people, ways to express data in concise, clear ways--data poetry.

However, no matter how much education and outreach is done, no matter how much data poetry is written, if there is no political will to change, we will not achieve sustainability. Political will is needed at both the top--the Federal level--and at the bottom--local, grassroots level. It does not matter how much federal legislators would like to change the system; if there is no support at the local level, change will not occur.

At the same time, regardless of how much a local community would like to become sustainable, without support from the Federal level in the form of changes to existing laws and regulations that perpetuate our current unsustainable society, change will not occur. The push for sustainability needs to happen at both the Federal and local levels simultaneously in order for society to move towards a more sustainable, enjoyable, equitable, and ultimately liveable lifestyle for all members of our local, national and global communities.
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Copyright © 1998 Maureen Hart. All rights reserved.