Looking Back on the LBSC project: Comments from Jeffrey Brown, Executive Director, Global Learning, Inc.
So, how are we doing and how have we done?
From my perspective as project director, I’d say someplace between very well and great! And I tend toward understatement.
When I think of the main challenge of this project, I’m delighted with how we—collectively—are doing. And that means mostly YOU. The main indicator of success we created for the state workshops involved participant evaluations totaling 75 percent for 1s and 2s on the excellent side of a five point scale—As and Bs in our formal schooling days. And we’re generally maintaining those results as each workshop evaluation report comes in. Add another 20 percent who give the workshops a 3, and 95 percent of the participants from Florida to Alaska are satisfied with their workshop experience.
What makes these results so remarkable to both Paula and me as experienced workshop leaders is the diversity of presenters who are receiving these grades. You have come from all varieties of libraries and settings and have a wide range of experience with making presentations. Thank you so much for all the energy and effort you have put into your preparations and your presentations. They certainly show.
Secondly, I’m proud to share any of the project’s products with anyone-from posters to manuals to newsletters to the Web site. Angie Hanshaw’s design skills have made all of us look like paragons of good taste and professionalism. No wonder the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network featured LBSC as their “Web site of the Week.” Thank you Angie. We’re grateful the ALA Task Force on the Environment will continue to service this Web site beyond the life of our grant (see below).
Thirdly, I believe we have accomplished the goal of fostering a dialog regarding the role of libraries in sustainable communities. This has been helped greatly by state trainers’ using some of their other “hats” to spread the word. In this regard we were extremely fortunate to have in our midst the feature editor of Public Libraries magazine, the editor of The Electronic Green Journal, and the author of Sarah Ann Long’s presidential theme book. We’ve also had among the state trainers and state workshop participants professors of library and information sciences who have indicated they are incorporating the role of libraries in sustainable communities into their regular courses. I am certain that as Rio +10-the World Summit on Sustainable Development-gets underway in Johannesburg in September 2002, hundreds of librarians across the country will be thinking of how to highlight the connections between this global conference’s proceedings and local community sustainability issues, thanks to your outreach.
And we’ve had other outreach as well. For example, the upcoming Colorado workshop has been posted on the Web site of the nonprofit organization Sustainable Colorado. One hundred and fifty copies of the LBSC insert were distributed at the Ecological Economics Conference in Duluth, Minnesota, in July. Another thousand copies of our first poster/tip sheet will be included in participant registration packets at the North American Alliance for Environmental Education’s annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, this October. And Sarah Ann Long has continued her interest in the project by hosting a "Sustainable Communities Discussion Group" at IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations, in Boston this August.
This project has greatly benefited from its strategic location within ALA in the Governance Office, under the watchful eye of Elizabeth Dreazen. Thank you, Liz, for your guidance and support. We have also lucked out in having hired an extremely competent, hard-working, and creative Project Coordinator, David Guyer. The wonders of technology that we’ve all come to take for granted (until our computer crashes) have made coordinating a national project across thousands of miles relatively simple most days. But David’s stick-to-it-iveness and good humor have made it a pleasure.
Paula and I are both grateful we got to share the past two years with you. We’re also looking forward to hearing tidbits of progress of how libraries are contributing to more sustainable communities in the years ahead.— Jeffrey L. Brown, Executive Director, Global Learning, Inc.
What’s Happening to the Web Site?
The ALA Task Force on the Environment (TFOE) has graciously agreed to maintain the sustainable communities Web site. The address will remain the same ( www.ala.org/sustainablecommunities) and TFOE will keep the site current. At press time there is no definite hand-off date, but everyone will be notified when the date is finalized.
Comments? Send them to Paula Gotsch, Associate Director, Global Learning, Inc., at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Guyer, Project Coordinator, American Library Association, at email@example.com. Enjoy the newsletter.
Melora Ranney, Charles M. Bailey Public Library, Winthrop, Maine. Maine Libraries Conference Report, May 2001
It was the last block of the Maine Libraries Conference; three women came into the room for the Libraries Build Sustainable Communities program. As the session went on and we discussed sustainability, one of the two trustees from coastal areas of Maine said, “Those are things we’ve always done.” She expressed anger and frustration, “People come here from other places because they like the way Maine is—and then they want to change it.” She obviously felt like the natives had tried to share their traditional, sustainable practices with newcomers—and had been rebuffed, criticized.
We abandoned the lecture format and joined together at a small table. It became clear that they were wary of having their libraries brought under criticism for opposing development. The group enjoyed working through the set of postcards together and thinking about ways that libraries could be forums for discussion about sustainable practices without seeming partisan. Many of the simpler library projects seemed familiar, while others seemed too large scale, out of reach; however, some ideas were of interest, and the group seemed to warm to the thought that sustainability might be presented as a new slant on a Maine tradition.
I came away from the session wishing to share more about sustainability with these folk and with other librarians in our state.
The LBSC project team offers heartfelt condolences to John Raymer on the recent death of his wife, Anne Raymer, who died of complications from breast cancer on 28 July 2001. She was a prolific and enthusiastic member of the sustainable communities training group. In her professional life she was the Manager of Special Services for the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, Indiana, and was active in efforts to improve and enhance her community. She served as the library representative on the St. Joseph County Literacy Council Board and was involved in community library outreach efforts in inner city neighborhood centers, Readmobile Services, and Homebound Services. She was also a regular speaker to service clubs and other community groups, and in March 2001 contributed an article to this newsletter (which was a component of her LBSC workshop presentation in Indiana) on a community garden involving the library and the community-at-large.
Her community and the LBSC project will sorely miss her energy, vitality, and enthusiasm. She was a real winner.
Up-to-date information on the global environment and sustainable development issues is now easily available on EarthTrends, the new interactive Web site of the World Resources Institute. Through a searchable databases, plus maps, country profiles, databases, and feature pieces you can access information in ten topic areas, including agriculture and food; climate and atmosphere; population, health and human well-being; and economics and business. You can reach the site at www.wri.org/wri.
America and the World is a new Web site that has been launched by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). This Web site will report on public attitudes on a broad range of international policy issues, integrating all publicly available polling data. Public attitudes on U.S. relations with China was the first report posted on the site, but others appearing in the near future will cover such topics as the United Nations, global population issues, and Africa. You can sign up to receive e-mail notification of each new report by going to the Web site. Find it at www.americans-world.org.
Terra Viva is a monthly newspaper on global interdependence issues and social development published in Portugal by the Council of Europe, North-South Centre, and the Inter-Press Service (IPS). A mixture of news and opinion, it makes interesting reading, often covering issues not widely reported elsewhere. For information on how to subscribe, send an e-mail to Terra.Viva@mail.EUnet.pt.
At its July meeting in Genoa, Italy, the world’s big eight (G-8) powers endorsed an action plan to bridge the “digital divide” with the poorest countries. The Digital Opportunity Task Force was set up at least year’s G-8 summit in Okinawa, Japan. “Even a year ago, demonstrators were burning computers on the streets of Okinawa saying that poor people need water and you can’t drink a computer,” said Vernon Ellis, who is the international chairman of the consulting firm Accenture, and was one of forty-three members who served on the task force. “In fact, there isn’t a trade-off between information and communication technologies and other development needs. These technologies can make a real difference to health, to education, to empowerment, and to enterprise.” The idea is to help those in poor countries gain better access to information and communications technology, if not on the desert floor then perhaps at communal sites in villages, and to promote the use of these technologies in reducing poverty. Mohsen Khalil, director of investment in digital technologies in poor countries for the World Bank, said the bank invests about $1.5 billion annually in information infrastructure and in projects using technology, and this new action plan could leverage more funding. Zoe Baird, president of the New York-based advocacy group Markle Foundation and another task force member, said the U.S. government has pledged $100 million to help implement the report. But participants added that while money is important, the key to the report was setting up a strategy to start bridging the North-South divide. The report contains nine key action points, which include improving connectivity and lowering costs; helping to establish national Internet strategies; deploying information technology in health care; providing development aid; and fostering entrepreneurship.
A new solar-powered community center in development for almost one year was launched in Patriensah, Ghana, on 4 August 2001. The installation includes computers, cameras, software for creativity and education, and a powerful commercial solar power array to provide electricity. Also included is a satellite telephone with a special data connection that will provide a direct link to the Web. You can see photos of the village and the project, animated panoramas, and details of the project at www.e-greenstar.com/Ghana.
For those of you who might want to jet away for a vacation in Austria, a symposium on “Sustainable Development and a New System of Societal Values” will be offered 3–4 December 2001 in Schloss Seggau, Austria. This meeting is organized by the European Network for Sustainable Regional Development Research, Austrian Association for Agricultural Research, and the Association for Co-ordination for the Research on Sustainability in Austria. The location of the symposium is intriguing: “The Symposium will be held at the Castle of Seggau in the vine growing region of Southern Styria. The Bishop of Styria owns the castle that has been adapted to host venues of all kinds. The wine cellar of Castle Seggau is renowned for its excellent quality wines and spirits. Participants will stay at the castle itself, the enchanting surrounding will add to the atmosphere of the Symposium.” For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for Green Paper? If you are looking for paper that can be certified as processed chlorine free (PCF), and if you are looking for papers that have at least 60 percent post-consumer content, you might want to visit the Web site of the Greg Barber Paper Company at www.gregbarberco.com. The company offers papers made from hemp, weeds, reprocessed denim, and old money in a number of finishes and weights. Because paper is such a large portion of daily waste, visiting this site and ordering a sample packet might offer tips on sustainability and resource management.
The National Gardening Association awards four hundred Youth Garden Grants to schools, neighborhoods, community centers, camps, clubs, treatment facilities, and intergenerational programs throughout the United States. Each grant consists of an assortment of quality tools, seeds, and garden products. To be eligible, groups must plan to garden in 2002 with at least fifteen children (three to eighteen years old). Selection of winners will be based on demonstration of a child-centered plan that emphasizes children directly learning and working in an outdoor garden. Selection criteria include leadership, need, sustainability, community support, innovation and educational, and environmental and/or social programming. The application deadline is 1 November 2001. To download an application, visit the site at www.kidsgardening.com/grants.asp.
Shelly Sommer of the Environmental Science Research Institute (ESRI) Library, 380 New York St., Redlands, California, attended the LBSC workshop held at the ALA Annual Conference in June 2001. She is interested in sustainability and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and is putting together “the most comprehensive bibliography on GIS on ESRI’s Virtual Campus.” This is a free resource at http://campus.esri.com/library. She writes “there is a lot in there about creating sustainable communities.” She also has a particular interest in sustainability, so if any of you have, or come across GIS-related materials about sustainable communities that may be useful to her, let her know at www.esri.com and she will add them to the list. The Web site also has “some pretty good resources for the library community under its ‘GIS for Your Specialty’ heading.” Thanks to Shelly for the information.
Sweatshops and Butterflies. “What do the isolated poor have to offer in a fast-moving global cyber-economy? The usual answers are cheap hands and abundant natural resources. But those vestiges of colonialism create dependency, drain human potential, devastate the environment, and cannot be sustained. “There is an unknown, unrealized asset of the disconnected that exists preciously because of their disconnectedness. It is priceless, unique, of universal value, and easily exchanged worldwide. “That asset is their voice, their vision, their intimate connection to tradition, to the earth, their families, community, their history, wisdom and legends. The more isolated a village, the more likely that it is home to music, artwork, poetry, traditional herbal knowledge, legends and ways of living that are of supreme value to the whole human family: real, authentic expressions of life that have been lost in the connected noise of industrial culture.” See the complete article, featured soon in the British journal Sustainable Development. For more information, go to www.greenstar.org/butterflies.
Thanks also to LBSC Committee member Fred Stoss who forwarded the Web site for www.tcgreens.org, “which is, as far as we know, the only Web site with green news and opinion updated daily. If you like the site, you might like to subscribe to receive a weekly summary by e-mail, which lets you keep in touch without surfing for hours or getting an in-box jammed with e-mail.” You can subscribe at www.tcgreens.org/auth/add-self.php.
The Sample Criteria for Evaluating the Sustainability of Community Ideas and Projects outline was developed by the Minnesota Department of Environmental Assistance to help cities in their efforts at establishing long-term sustainability. Read on for more.
“Flourishing Communities are the foundation of a healthy society. City blocks, neighborhoods, towns, townships, and cities are of a size where individual efforts at community improvement can effect visible change. In local communities all of our nation’s complex issues—housing, jobs, business development, crime, public participation, personal and community values, and the natural environment—present themselves. But how does one choose which efforts will reap the richest and most long-lasting rewards?
“The emerging concept or ethic of sustainability, or sustainable development, provides direction. The perspective of sustainability calls upon us to invest our time and energy in efforts which simultaneously strengthen the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of any issue.”
Listed here are criteria, which suggest a range of interrelated issues that communities should consider in choosing more sustainable courses of action:
This section looks at how well the idea contributes to a sense of community among neighbors and to key features that make a community (its residents, businesses, government, and institutions) strong:
- Civic engagement—Encourages the participation of all affected people in decision-making, and supports the civic values of trust and cooperation.
- Mobility—Allows for transportation and information access within and outside the community while fostering alternatives to single occupancy car use.
- Use of local resources—Respects and uses local people and their knowledge, and local energy and materials.
- Quality of life—Improves individual opportunity for a sense of fulfillment in life, and brings beauty into physical designs.
- Public safety—Improves the community’s sense of security.
- Education—Supports learning and skill development for people of all ages.
- Community history—Respects the values, traditions, and historical elements of the geographic area.
- Community identity—Helps citizens feel a sense of belonging to the community, and fosters a commitment to the geographic locale.
- Neighborliness—Supports good human interactions and relationships among diverse people within the community.
This section looks at how well the idea takes ecological opportunities and limitations into account.
- Carrying capacity—Keeps levels of pollution, consumption, and population size within the environment’s ability to handle them.
- Ecosystems—Maintains watershed quality, plant, and animal diversity, and habitat (including wildlife corridors).
- Land use—Uses land prudently, assuring quality wild and productive lands and compact urban development featuring pedestrian and transit-oriented mixed-use development (for people of all ages) with access to green space.
- Waste reduction, reuse, and recycling—Reduces resource consumption, focuses on preventing waste and pollution, locally reuses and recycles materials, and responsibly manages waste.
- Energy—Promotes use-reduction, renewable energy, and greater efficiency in the use of energy resources.
- Clean water—Reduces water use and pollution, and minimizes wastewater and stormwater generation.
- Clean air—Prevents and reduces air pollution.
- Healthy buildings—Promotes healthier indoor environments through improved air quality, lighting, and space use.
- Peace and quiet—Reduces noise pollution.
This section looks at how well the idea takes the economic well-being of the community into account.
- Meaningful work—Provides for rewarding volunteer work and paid work opportunities at living wages.
- Business variety—Promotes diversification of the local economy in terms of business type and size.
- Economic vitality—Improves opportunities for new and existing businesses, emphasizing smaller, locally owned businesses and value-added industries for local products.
- Economic self-reliance—Links area businesses, products, and services, and resources and customers to increase the recycling of money, barter labor, and other resources within the community.
- Economic feasibility—Is sound from a financial and human resources perspective and includes incentives for public acceptance.
- Pricing—Strives to price goods and services to reflect the full social and environmental costs of their provision.
This section evaluates whether the idea promotes greater equity within the community and with people outside the community, as well as between present and future generations.
- Who gets the benefits—Distributes the various benefits of the idea fairly within the community.
- Who pays the costs—Does not place an unfair burden on any group within the community.
- Fairness to other communities—Does not unfairly have an impact on people in other parts of the city, region, or in other parts of the world.
- Fairness to future generations—Considers the well-being of those community members who will inherit the impacts.
- Affordability and access—Promotes fair and affordable access to housing, services, and opportunities within the community.
Connections, Trade-Offs, and the Long-Term
This section evaluates how well the idea considers the connections among issues, makes balanced trade-offs where necessary, and seeks to understand its impacts into the future.
- The seven generations test—Considers impacts on the community 175 years from now.
- The big picture—Takes into account the links among social, economic, and environmental issues.
- rade-offs in the community—Seeks to meet social, economic, and environmental goals simultaneously. When it can’t, it makes reasoned and balanced trade-offs informed by the community’s core values.
- Trade-offs outside the community—Includes a mechanism for reaching as cooperative a solution as possible where there is conflict with the goals of other communities or organizations.
- Improvements over time—Includes adequate feedback mechanisms that will tell citizens when goals are being met; allows for future course corrections.
T he Compromise of Liberal Environmentalism by Steven Bernstein of the University of Toronto (Columbia University Press, Fall 2001, $45) . From the preface:
The most significant shift in environmental governance over the last thirty years has been the convergence of environmental and liberal economic norms toward “liberal environmentalism”—which predicates environmental protection on the promotion and maintenance of a liberal economic order. Steven Bernstein assesses the reasons for this historical shift, introduces a socio-evolutionary explanation for the selection of international norms, and considers the implications for our ability to address global environmental problems. The author maintains that the institutionalization of “sustainable development” at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) legitimized the evolution toward liberal environmentalism. Arguing that most of the literature on international environmental politics is too rationalist and problem-specific, Bernstein challenges the mainstream thinking on international cooperation by showing that it is always for some purpose or goal. His analysis of the norms that guide global environmental policy also challenges the often-presumed primacy of science in environmental governance.
Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change by Guy Dauncy with Patrick Mazza (New Society Publishers, 2001) describes the basics of climate change, showcases the best solutions from around the world, and offers a menu of solutions from every level, from personal to global. The 288-page book is designed as a series of self-contained two-page units, each of which includes a listing of Web-based resources, illustrations, and other material. There are 1,300 Web resources online at the book’s Web site at www.earthfuture.com/stormyweather.
In Noah’s Children: Restoring the Ecology of Childhood (North Point Press, $25) author Sara Stein, who is a horticulturist and environmentalist, describes the connections between the natural world and children’s natural interest in discovering it.
Shaping a Sustainable Future: Best Practices in Higher Education, Second Nature’s Southwest Regional Workshop will be held 1–4 November 2001 at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. Participants will be exposed to some of the best sustainability practices currently underway at colleges and universities across the United States, and will learn innovative strategies to bring these practices to their own campuses. For more information, contact email@example.com, or visit the Web site at www.secondnature.org/workshops.
Learning Sustainability: Achieving Environmental, Social, and Economic Well-Being, a regional community forum being held in conjunction with the 2001 Green Gold Exposition, 10–13 October 2001, Buffalo Convention Center, Buffalo, New York, will bring “nationally and internationally known speakers to initiate a discussion on sustainability with a local/regional audience.” The primary objectives of the forum are to build working links between academic, governmental, business, health, and community audiences to explore a wide range of sustainability issues and opportunities that confront strategic thinkers at the dawn of the twenty-first century; provide an umbrella for existing related activities; build bridges to a successful future; and encourage leadership that will forge a sustainable future. Dr. Jane Goodall is scheduled to speak at the forum on Wednesday, 10 October 2001. For more information, go to http://wings.buffalo.edu/org/sustain/program.