By: Ron Dodson
We believe that in order to achieve the vision associated with a more sustainable society, some things must grow – jobs, productivity, efficiency, wages, capital and savings, profits, information, knowledge and education – and others – pollution, waste and poverty – must not. The Sustainability Campaign is aimed at forging partnerships with businesses, universities, governments and not-for-profits, encouraging the adoption of the ISC Principles of Sustainability.
We are promoting: Conservation - Education - Nature-based Tourism
Vermont Book Signing
- In: Sustainability Campaign
- Updated 17 Aug 2015
Tilting at Windmills Gallery Hosts a Book Signing Event in Vermont
On The Farm - The Uncertain Future of an American Legacy
On Friday September 4th, 2015 from 5PM - 7:30PM artist Adriano Manocchia and author Ronald G. Dodson will attend a book signing event at Tilting at Windmills Gallery located at 24 Highland Ave in Manchester Center, VT. Gallery owner Terry Lindsey will host the official unveiling of the newly released book by Audubon Lifestyles, On The Farm - The Uncertain Future of an American Legacy, a collaborative efforts between Ronald G. Dodson, Chairman of ISC-Audubon and Adriano Manocchia, Official Conservation Artist of ISC-Audubon. Together they have produced a book that features a number of original oil paintings by Adriano whose work is represented at the gallery, and is written by Mr. Dodson, successful author of several books on conservation and sustainability. The soft cover book that measures 10.5"x7.5", retails for $21.95, and contains 74 pages with 28 color plates. The forward is written by Stephen Jones, Ph.D. President of Antioch University New England, and Senior Fellow, ISC-Audubon.
The book was made possible through the financial support of Gerald Forsythe of the Forsythe Family Farms. Mr. Forsythe who was born in Marshall, Illinois, is an American businessman and auto racing magnate who is also active in cattle ranching and farming, and maintains a farm in his native Marshall. Both author and artist will make a short presentation on the motivation that inspired the book. Autographed copies will be available for purchase along with a selection of paintings that capture the spirit of farm life and are featured in the book. Proceeds from the sale of the book, art and other related products will benefit the Seeds Fund of ISC-Audubon.
Ronald G. Dodson is an award winning wildlife biologist, who resides in the Albany, NY area, but was born and raised amidst the farm fields of Southern Indiana. Adriano Manocchia, who was born in New York City but moved several years ago in the picturesque village of Cambridge in upstate New York, a community surrounded by a pristine farm-life environment, is considered a Master in contemporary realism. Their collaborative efforts have resulted in the creation of a book that is both entertaining and educational. Inspired by the need to promote sustainability in a society where its rapidly changing and urbanizing tendencies often result in loosing connections with the source of our food, the book is intended not only as a celebration of farming heritage in America, but also as a way of showcasing sustainability examples and lifestyles.
Mr. Dodson’s text reveals unexpected facets of farm life sometimes frustrating, sometimes exhilarating, bringing to the forefront the need to embrace again a way of life that had been nearly universal for most of recorded history and that only in the last few decades has experienced an unsustainable collapse. In contraposition the serene and lyrical images that Adriano Manocchia was inspired to create after his extensive research, speak of a serene world of bucolic beauty and strong family ties.
“While this book is titled “On The Farm: The Uncertain Future of an American Legacy,” - writes Mr. Dodson – “the story is really about those individuals who refer to themselves as farmers. There are all sorts of people who consider themselves to be farmers. I am related to many farmers and I personally spent many hours working on a farm in my youth. Just like the old saying about it taking effort to turn a house into a home, so does it take hard work and special, dedicated people to turn a piece of land into a farm.”
The International Sustainability Council-Audubon (ISC-Audubon) is a not-for-profit organization that works to foster sustainable living and lifestyles. ISC-Audubon encourages people from all walks of life to embrace and practice conservation and stewardship of the Earth, where they live, work and play. A selection of paintings featured in the book will be offered for sale. Proceeds from the sale of the book and other related products, will benefit the Seeds Fund of ISC-Audubon's.
We hope you can join us at this free event. For further information please visit the gallery's website http://www.tilting.com or call 802-362-3022
Want to buy a book? Send your name and address along with a check payable to ISC-Audubon for $21.95 plus $2.00 for shipping per book to ISC-Audubon: 1380 Indian Fields Road, Box 339, Feura Bush, New York 12067.
USDA Provides $314 Million in Water & Waste Infrastructure Improvements in Rural Communities Nationwide
- In: Sustainability Campaign
- Updated 02 Nov 2015
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced loans and grants for 141 projects to build and improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural communities across the nation.
"Many rural communities need to upgrade and repair their water and wastewater systems, but often lack the resources to do so," Vilsack said. "These loans and grants will help accomplish this goal. USDA's support for infrastructure improvements is an essential part of building strong rural economies."
USDA is awarding $299 million for 88 projects in the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program and $15 million for 53 grants in the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) program.
ECWAG grants enable water systems that serve eligible rural communities to prepare for, or recover from, imminent or actual emergencies that threaten the availability of safe drinking water. Water and Waste program recipients can use funds to construct water and waste facilities in rural communities.
The Big Sandy Rancheria Band of Western Mono Indians in Fresno, Calif., has been selected to receive a $494,300 ECWAG grant to drill a well and connect it and another well to the water system.
The Columbia Heights Water District in Caldwell, La., has been selected to receive a $736,000 water and waste loan to upgrade the water storage tank and related equipment at the wastewater treatment plant. The community is in an area of persistent poverty that USDA has targeted for special assistance through the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative.
Three recipients receiving funding today were given priority points through a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill that encourages communities to adopt regional economic development plans. These projects are centered on regional collaboration and long-term growth strategies. They leverage outside resources and capitalize on a region's unique strengths.
The recipients are the West Stewartstown (N.H.) Water Precinct, the Lowcountry Regional Water System in Hampton, S.C., and the city of Waubun, Minn. All three projects involve upgrades to water and wastewater systems. The Hampton, S.C., project is in a high-poverty area designated as a Promise Zone. In areas designated as Promise Zones, federal, state and private-sector partners work with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, and increase access to quality, affordable housing.
Six of the projects announced today will provide $3.9 million to benefit Native American areas. These water and waste awards include the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota and five projects in California, including Big Sandy Rancheria, two awards to the Cortina Band of Wintun Indians, the Grindstone Indian Rancheria and the Yurok Tribe.
Two projects will provide $9.1 million for colonias in New Mexico. The recipients are the Garfield Mutual Domestic Water Consumers & Mutual Sewer Works Association and the La Luz Mutual Domestic Water Association. Colonias are unincorporated, low-income, mostly Hispanic U.S. communities along the Mexico border that lack adequate housing, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
Since 2009, USDA has helped provide improved water and wastewater services to nearly 18 million rural residents by investing $12.3 billion in 5,174 projects.
Funding of each award announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant and loan agreement.
Here is an example of how a previously funded project has helped improve water service in a rural community. In Sparta, Tenn., antiquated equipment could not handle rainwater runoff, causing sewage to spill out of drains. In 2011, USDA provided $2.9 million to Sparta to build a new wastewater system, ending the major sewage problem.
USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for loans and grants to build rural water infrastructure. Applications may be completed online through RDAPPLY, a new electronic filing system, and at state and local Rural Development offices. Public entities (counties, townships and communities), non-profit organizations and tribal communities with a population of 10,000 or less are eligible to apply. Interest rates for this program are at historically low levels, ranging from 2 percent to 3.25 percent. Loan terms can be up to 40 years. For more information, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rd-apply
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
Peace Corps - Antioch University New England Partnership
- In: Sustainability Campaign
- Updated 01 Feb 2015
(We recently recieved a message from Steve Jones, PhD, President of Antioch University New England and ISC Council Member that we think is great news, in regard to spreading the seeds of sustainability on a global basis. That message is shared below and we would like to see our readers, members and supporters to spread this message to others who might have an interest in furthering their education as sustainability leaders, while doing good in the world at the same time!)
Antioch University New England is partnering with the Peace Corps to extend our environmental studies and sustainability reach globally to 139 countries. To see what countries the Peace Corps works in CLICK HERE.
Last May the Peace Corps designated several of our environmental studies master's degrees as Master's International programs. CLICK HERE to see the official announcement. I joined Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet in Washington January 12, to sign an agreement to similarly designate AUNE's Environmental Studies PhD, the agency’s first such recognition of a doctoral degree. CLICK HERE to read more about the PhD program.
Antioch University New England continues to lead and encourage responsible Earth stewardship through research, demonstration, education, global inspiration, and action!
Steve Jones, President
Antioch University New England
Don't Waste Money on Public Involvement
- In: Sustainability Campaign
- Updated 23 Jan 2015
By: Pete Pointer, FAICP, ALA, ITE
Every urban development or capital project has impacts to people, systems and the environment. I am a strong advocate for effective public involvement. However, the amount of money spent, and the amount of contact with the public is not the measure of a successful public involvement program. Big splashy or technologically sophisticated programs may only waste money, frustrate the public and anger local citizens and voters. Public participation is not an end in itself but a means to an end. It should bring about a consensus on a course of action or a plan by using it to shape alternatives responsive to the legitimate concerns of all interested and affected parties.
The process of planning for development at any scale, from a small site to a region, should involve the public at all stages. But public involvement is not public relations nor is it simply to identify the wishes of the public which may be unrelated to functional, financial, legal, environmental or market requirements which must also be met.
A good project or plan evolves to meet both the sponsors program, budget and objectives but also, responds to the legitimate concerns of stakeholders. In such a process everyone is a winner.
10 Considerations in structuring an effective public involvement program:
1. First and foremost, there needs to be support for an effective program from the top down, both within the sponsoring agency or group and the technical team.
2. Be sure to identify and involve all stakeholders and interested parties.
3. Use the program to listen to the participants so that the team can respond by modifying the alternatives. It should not just be a one way process to sell the public on the project.
4. Establish an advisory committee to use as a sounding board and eventually, a champion of a preferred alternative.
5. Modify the program by stage, type of project and scale of impacts. For instance, at the outset of the project the participants need to understand the purpose, schedule and input opportunities while the team should solicit information on local conditions, problems, opportunities and concerns.
6. The public needs to see that their input has helped shape responsive changes in the proposed alternatives under consideration. A good team will then be able to craft a hybrid alternative that balances out all the factors.
7. All information communicated to the public, both as groups and individuals, should accurately reflect the policies of the sponsor and the expertise of all professional disciplines on the team. For instance, a question should not be answered from a physical design standpoint alone but include other considerations relative to the alternatives such as economic, social or environmental issues.
8. Always select an appropriate location, time, and format for meetings. One example of a disastrous meeting was when there was not enough room to accommodate all the public and the meeting had to be moved to another venue at another date, at great cost to all participants in time, money and energy.
9. Workshops, where the public can talk to team members on a one to one basis and view details of drawings and exhibits, can defuse many opponents of a proposal or at least equip them with the facts.
10. Pick the right technique for presenting information. Projected images may not work without a darkened room or a space may be too large for all participants to see the images. Large scale drawings may indicate a level of understanding of impacts which have not yet been evaluated. Electronic surveys may not ask questions about alternatives if the public finds them too limited or unresponsive to their real interests.
A public involvement plan should be specific to an area, its history, its scale and stakeholders as well as be responsive to the objectives of the proposed action. The plan must reflect the needs of a project through all phases from concept, through design development, implementation, and operation.
It bears repeating, there are two purposes of a public involvement program. The first is to achieve a consensus on a preferred alternative which will lead to implementation. The second is to make all of the alternatives as good AS possible, by making them responsive to the specific conditions, issues and objectives identified by the participants in the process.
There are four key principles to be followed in the process:
1. The people carrying out the public involvement program must believe in the importance of public involvement, and have a track record of success in achieving the two key purposes.
2. The program must be structured to take the initiative to reach out and involve all interested and affected parties.
3. There must be a variety of ways that the public can communicate with the team. These opportunities must be as diverse as the needs of the public who are involved.
4. Each incoming comment or question must be documented and where warranted, responded to promptly. The public involvement leader must communicate this information to the technical study team so that they can better understand local conditions, issues and plans if they are to develop responsive alternatives. .
There are many techniques available to achieve the two purposes of the public involvement program. I will briefly elaborate on several which have been found to be very effective on projects which cover a large study area with multiple units of government and diversity of population groups.
1. From day one establish a toll-free project information line. This would ring at the desk of the public involvement coordinator and/or project manager, and they would be responsible for recording the input and responding. This provides equal access to all persons in the study area, as well as convenient access to the planning and design team for agencies in various locations.
2. For those with access to the Internet, a website would be established to provide information on the project purpose, schedule, events, findings, and avenues for communicating with the study team. An e-mail address would also be established to provide opportunities for prompt response to questions and comments.
3. Newsletters would be event driven and document the process as it unfolds, and alert agencies, groups and individuals to key milestones and events. Each newsletter would contain a comment form which would also be placed on the website. Newsletters would form a part of the written history of the project.
4. Media releases would be prepared to inform the public about the purpose and progress of the project and to alert the public to all of the avenues available for their participation. Media briefings would also be held prior to all public meetings and the public hearing.
5. Rather than a traditional public hearing format, where one person can dominate the audience and is not responsible for the accuracy of their comments, consider an open house format with court reporters to take down dictated statements. These could even be recorded under oath. Individual team members should be available to discuss specific details in a one on one situation but they should involve other team members so as not to present only the engineering, traffic, land use or other single evaluation criteria.
6. Lastly, the agenda, graphics, facilitation, and documentation of all meetings should make them meaningful and useful to the participants and to the study team. The level of detail for graphics should never be more precise than the level of impact analysis and evaluation.
The study team should be experienced enough to select from a wide variety of other proven techniques to respond to the changing needs for communication and participation throughout the process. For instance, other techniques could involve the use of key person interviews, workshops, cable television and radio talk show interviews, all of which should incorporate appropriate and innovative graphics and other communication techniques.
N.J. “Pete” Pointner is an architect and planner with more than 50 years of professional experience beyond his master’s degree in city and regional planning. To read more thoughts from Pete Pointer click: www.petepointner.com
The Greenest King of Junk!
- In: Sustainability Campaign
- Updated 13 Jan 2015
I spoke with Todd Porter, co-owner of Junk King Capital District, New York last week and learned some interesting things about his business, which he has managed now for 3 years. Todd spent many years working in a cubicle in a Park Avenue law office in New York City.
For his second career Todd opted to open a junk hauling and recycling business. His love of nature and the environment fits right into his business. Junk King’s policy of recycling and donating 60% of the items they haul fits Todd’s green interests. Todd told me that in the year 2013 his company diverted 228,000 pounds of “stuff” that would now be rotting in landfills of the Capital Region, to either recycling or through donations to worthy charities. He is excited to add up the results of 2014, but is committed to recycling or donating 80% by weight of all the “junk” that his company removes. This commitment is what has led Junk King to be called The Greenest Junk Removal Company in America!
Junk King was founded in California in 2005, and customers who call Junk King Albany can be assured they will receive excellent customer service, work will be completed quickly, and, of course in a manner that is environmentally friendly.
Junk King Employees do all the work, and customers need only to point their finger to make the unwanted clutter disappear. The company gives free estimates and can book online or by phone 1-888-888-5865 (JUNK).