LBSC Newsletter #6: July 2001


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The ALA Annual Conference held in San Francisco was a success for the LBSC project. Read on for more details.

On Saturday, 16 June 2001, the basic LBSC workshop was presented to an overflow crowd of 61 participants interested in how librarians can become more involved in sustainability issues. The "Postcards from Home" exercise was especially helpful as participants related the photographs to their own experiences. An important issue was raised by a librarian from Oregon who stated that with the loss of jobs in the lumber industry that the entire community had suffered. She added that presenting information about sustainability was problematic because many members of the community saw it as advocating a philosophy that adversely affected its economic vitality and ultimate survival. Other participants added their own anecdotes about advocacy issues, and several agreed that a fine line existed between presenting information and the appearance of advocating a particular position or set of principles.

Participants also had various ideas for making their own communities more sustainable, including:

  • make branch locations walkable;
  • set an example by working toward designing and utilizing "green" buildings;
  • recycle;
  • involve the entire community in planning efforts;
  • develop an effective strategy to work with community decision-makers;
  • offer library meeting space to members of the community;
  • seek out different viewpoints;
  • establish a dialogue with a library Web site and electronic discussion group;
  • create brochures;
  • develop or increase a "sustainable communities" collection;
  • connect with local stakeholding groups;
  • develop outreach programs;
  • host a community garden;
  • develop community business partnerships;
  • involve youth in library advocacy efforts;
  • reward sustainable practices;
  • add a bike rack in addition to a parking lot for cars;
  • be in the forefront of long range planning efforts;
  • make available published documents on community development;
  • partner with transportation agencies to provide free trips to the library;
  • outreach efforts for those with different languages and cultures; and
  • reach out to the local small business community for jobs and training efforts.

On Sunday, 17 June 2001, the panel discussion on libraries and sustainability, titled "Sustainable Communities: Fostering Dialogue @ your library tm," attracted a smaller but no less enthusiastic group of participants to hear panelists Jeffrey Brown of Global Learning, Jeanne Clinton, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Oakland, California; Randall Solomon, states campaign director, Resource Renewal Institute, and Rénee Vaillancourt, library consultant and features editor of Public Libraries, the magazine of the Public Library Association. Sarah Ann Long, the immediate past president of the American Library Association, moderated the panel. The panel offered illuminating insights on libraries and their role in sustainability education and information dissemination.

Clinton presented a working paper outlining how her particular sustainability program might interface with local libraries. Her goal was to connect "city policy and disparate resources—building bridges and creating new opportunities." With this goal in mind she outlined a possible approach:

  • What technical resources can economic development and environment staff professionals bring to library efforts?
  • What documents should libraries have? Consider the criteria for accession into a collection, the resources to pay for them, and the depository role for city documents on sustainability policies and actions.
  • What is the role of the library as an information resource outside standard hours of operation?
  • How can we help identify materials for the right audience (s)?
  • How can we use library facilities themselves as sustainability models?
  • How can we use libraries as possible hosts/centers for meetings and dialogue?

On Monday, 18 June 2001, at the meeting of the LBSC committee and state trainers, Jeff Brown and Paula Gotsch of Global Learning presented a summary of the grant project and its programs, and outlined what is to be accomplished for the remainder of the time frame before grant funding ends 31 August 2001. Jeff Brown noted that ten workshops are planned between September and December 2001. The project team will work with these trainers to ensure that for those workshops held "away from home" there are funds available for trainer expenses. For those of you conducting workshops outside your home state, please contact David Guyer at your earliest opportunity for information about making travel arrangements and travel reimbursement.

The group had a brainstorming session about the future of the project, especially the Sustainable Communities Web site, when the grant ends. Preliminary arrangements have been made for it to be maintained by the ALA Task Force on the Environment, although those details have not yet been finalized; they will be outlined in an upcoming issue of the newsletter.

During the latter part of the meeting LBSC committee member Ivonne Spelman gave the assembled group an overview of her recent trip to Cuba and some of the challenges and opportunities affecting those who live there.

In addition, the new poster was well received (it was gone from the literature bin every time the bin was checked). Additional copies of it and the first poster are available from ALA.

Comments? Send them to Paula Gotsch, Associate Director, Global Learning, Inc., at paulag@worldshare.net or David Guyer, Project Coordinator, American Library Association, at dguyer@ala.org. Enjoy the newsletter.

Contents

From the Field
Web Sites
Of Interest
Notes from the International Front
Publications
Upcoming Events
Feedback Form

From the Field

Dorothy Stoltz, Outreach Services Manager, Carroll County Public Library, Westminster, Maryland, and Kenna Forsyth, Maryland Association for Nonprofits

"You Must Be the Change You Wish to See in the World"

The two of us, Maryland's team, presented our workshop at the Maryland Library Association. The workshop generated a great deal of interest, with 70 people attending. We decided not to limit the audience size because we wanted to have as much exposure as possible. We defined our primary goal in the workshop as "to encourage librarians to think differently about community and to actively seek ways to be at the table where community decisions are being made."

We experimented with designing a two-hour workshop that would include three compelling panelists as well as using the LBSC workshop exercises "Post Cards from Home" and "Is the World Really Shrinking?" In order to save time, we projected the photographs from "Post Cards" onto a screen using powerpoint for one large group activity. It became somewhat challenging to encourage open discussion with seventy people. However, sustainable community was defined and several people were contributing with thought-provoking comments.

The discussion panel was designed around the three E's—environment, economy and equity. A summary of their presentations follows.

Al Barry, urban developer, described the Jones Falls Valley restoration project in Baltimore City. We learned the importance of thinking very long term, 50 or 100 years from now, in community planning. This current project is the first comprehensive planning effort for the Jones Falls Valley since the 1950s. Its emphasis is to bring environmentalists and developers together to discuss areas that have potential for redevelopment and areas that need protection. Barry and other organizers are investigating ways to capitalize on the corridor's historic, architectural, recreational, and economic assets. The proposed Highlandtown regional library is an example of how a library could offer sufficient meeting room space for large community planning meetings.

Dianne Tremere of the Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) explained the challenges and rewards in a BCPL partnership project with the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development (BCDED). In 1999, Infobank, a Web-based information bank of data about Baltimore County, was created. Topic areas included: living here, advantages, statistics, doing business, and business assistance.

Infobank was restructured in 2000 to emphasize content of interest to large businesses and site consultants, including the growth and employment areas in White Marsh and Owings Mills and the educated workforce/local colleges and universities, highlighting the centers for technology. BCPL performs the ongoing maintenance under the direction of BCDED. This goes beyond the normal Web page updating process as it requires using print statistical sources, conducting Web research, and interfacing with government agency staff. Regular updating was critical to acceptance of the project and continuing it. The library will request funding for the maintenance of effort for future years in its annual budget.

Not only do librarians find Infobank a useful resource, but also this partnership markets the library as a cooperative and important agency. As Tremere emphasized, the project has been a true win/win situation.

Tricia Supik, director of the Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County, presented the healthy community initiative, which emphasized seven patterns of community development:

  • practices ongoing dialogue;
  • generates leadership everywhere;
  • shapes its future;
  • embraces diversity;
  • knows itself;
  • connects people and resources; and
  • creates a sense of community.

Supik highlighted ways in which Carroll County Public Library and staff have been involved: steering committee membership; facilitating focus groups; preparing press releases and radio and newspaper ads; planning for healthy community and youth leadership conferences; and purchasing community change materials for the library. The Westminster Branch Library became the neutral gathering place for the initiative's press conference.

By the end of Supik's presentation, we did not have time to conduct the "Is the World Really Shrinking?" activity, which we hoped to use to generate more discussion.

What did we learn from the workshop? We needed a better balance between big-picture thinking and practical ways that libraries can become involved, and we attempted to do too much in two hours. However, many participants said that they were more motivated to find new ways to partner in order to help their community become a sustainable community. Overall, we were pleased with the workshop results.

Supik ended our workshop with a thoughtful Mahatma Ghandi quote: "You must be the change you wish to see in this world."

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Web Sites

If you see other sites of interest to the sustainable communities group, please forward them and they'll be published in future issues of the newsletter.

Some tuna-fishing methods can injure or kill dolphins. The Dolphin Safe logo indicates that those methods weren't used or that dolphins weren't harmed in the process. However, because independent verification of such claims—by observers who board fishing boats or make surprise visits to canneries to inspect captains' logs—is not universal, the logo is not an ironclad guarantee that the tuna in any given can was caught according to the standard. For more information, check out www.eco-labels.org, which is the Consumers Union Guide to Environmental Labels.

A "Beyond Gentrification Tool Kit" is a Web-based toolkit for those in communities faced with gentrification, displacement, and disinvestment. It highlights "innovative and successful equitable development strategies in culturally diverse communities across the country." Please go to www.policylink.org/gentrification.

"Building Communities" by Co-op America is a free pocket guide that provides information on how to avoid and combat predatory lending practices, and includes resources on responsible community investment options. Contact Co-op America at 1-800 58-GREEN, or visit their Web site at www.coopamerica.org.

Go to www.web-a-dex.com/translate.htm for easy cut-and-paste translations. At this site you can copy and paste text into a box, select the language you want it to be translated into, hit a button, and voila (there you have it), a translation magically appears.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has launched a free public database to provide information about the often hidden links between academic scientists and private industry—mostly in the fields of nutrition, the environment, toxicology, and medicine. The site will also trace the corporate support received by professional, health, and nonprofit organizations. Go to www.cspinet.org/integrity for more information.

To jumpstart your own micropower enterprise, using alternative, less energy-intensive methods, go to www.homepower.com, the hands-on journal of homemade, sustainable, power.

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Of Interest

Approximately 80 percent of United States children in families with incomes below $20,000 lack access to a home computer. Now, some concerned foundations and local groups have created a ConnectNet/Conectado. At libraries, kids will be guided to more than 20,000 places offering access to computers, usually free. English- or Spanish-speaking teens can call 1-866-583-1234 (toll free) for a computer center nearby.

Planet Dog Philanthropy, a maker of eco-friendly dog products, has established a giving program that will focus on the environment, animal welfare, and education. Environmental grants will focus on the reduction of air and water pollution, wilderness/forest protection, preservation and conservation, and management of ecosystems and waste reduction. Grants are not to exceed $5,000. For more information, contact Planet Dog at (207) 772-6751, or go to www.planetdogphilanthropy.org.

Earth Island Journal is offering a special library starter kit as part of a new subscription package for $35. Join before 1 October 2001 and receive two years of back issues free. (Offer subject to availability. Five years worth of back issues available on request.) Please contact Karen Gosling, Membership Secretary, Earth Island Institute at (415) 788-3666, ext. 123, or at kgosling@earthisland.org. To learn more about Earth Island Journal and the Institute, please go to www.earthisland.org.

In its most recent issue of the Sustainability Indicator, the Izaak Walton league of America reports:

A number of groups are working to educate the public about the financial and environmental costs of excessive or inefficient outdoor night lighting. Solutions include advocating for changes in local ordinances and codes and installing more efficient lights that focus light where it is needed. Here are two suggestions to get you started.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) was formed in 1998 to “preserve the nighttime environment and our heritage dark skies through quality outdoor lighting.” The IDA's goals are to stop the adverse environmental impact on dark skies by building awareness about the value and effectiveness of quality nighttime lighting. Visit them at www.darksky.org/ida/index.html or contact them at the International Dark Sky Association, 3225 North First Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719-2103.

The New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (NELPAG) sponsors meetings throughout the New England region that bring together lighting engineers, physicians, power utility representatives, government officials, astronomers, journalists, and the general public for discussion of improvement in outdoor lighting. Their Web site at http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/cfa/ps/nelpag.html provides useful resources and contacts nationwide.

The NELPAG pamphlet is an excellent educational tool that lists pollution-reducing electric lights and manufacturers in the United States. For a paper copy or to contact NELPAG write to Dan Green, M.S. 18, Smithsonian Observatory, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138. Please include a self-addressed 9-1/4" x 4" envelope with first-class U.S. postage.

Source: Izaak Walton League of America. Sustainability Coordinator. Volume 4, No. 2: June 2001.

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Notes from the International Front

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) recently began its month-long meeting in Geneva. The meeting is expected to focus on UN's role in supporting sustainable development in Africa. Public aid to Africa fell by one third between 1994 and 1999, while foreign investment in the continent remained at less than 5 percent of all investment in developing countries worldwide.

More on Curitiba, Brazil. The city of Curitiba relies on the country's most efficient public transportation system, and boasts fifty-two meters of green area per inhabitant, causing it to be called Brazil's Ecological Capital. The city also encourages local residents to take responsibility for their water resources by involving the community in monitoring water quality and mobilizing the community in environmental management. Key individuals (140 of them) in schools, environmental organizations, and neighborhood and other associations have been trained and supported to mobilize their membership. More than 5,000 people have now been involved in monitoring the environmental conditions of the city's rivers, using sight, smell, and simple field analysis kits, and sending the results to the city's department of the environment. A virtual field trip of Curitiba, created in 1999, can be found on www.busways.com/pages/vtrip.html.

Former ALA president Sara Ann Long will spearhead a Sustainable Communities Discussion Group at the Annual Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to be held in August 2001 in Boston. The discussion group is scheduled for Sunday, 19 August 2001, from 8:30 to 10:20 a.m. For more information on the IFLA conference please see www.ifla.org, and click on the Boston icon.

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Publications

The Organic Suburbanite: A Swell Way to Live the American Dream by Warren Schultz (Rodale Press, August 2001) is a "comprehensive, clever guide to 'doing the right thing' in America's suburban wilderness."

Your Naturally Healthy Home: Stylish, Safe, Simple by Alan Berman (Rodale Press, August 2001) is "a beautiful, practical handbook for homeowners looking to protect the environment—and their health."

In Sustainability, the Real Bottom Line, Joe Simonetta, senior publications editor of the World Business Academy, writes:

The term sustainability continues to grow more common in our vocabulary. What accounts for this development? What does sustainability mean? Why is it so essential to us all?

Sustainability is about survival. It is the understanding that we must leave this planet as we found it or improve it so those who follow us will at the very least have the opportunities we have had.

… We are a young species , not unlike a child finding its way. If we make the right choices based on the vast amount of knowledge we now possess and continually enhance, we will succeed and advance our civilization. If we ignore what we know and insist upon violating the reality that enables us to live, we will suffer grave consequences.

Sustainability is like an orchard. Those who understand and respect the non-negotiable rules of life enjoy the fruit and nurture the trees. Those who don't understand or ignore the rules of life destroy the trees one by one until there is no more orchard and no more fruit.

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Upcoming Events

Please let us know about upcoming events that are of interest to the LBSC project.

The World Congress of Citizens' Networks will be held in Buenos Aires from 5–7 December 2001. This second congress is the first to be held in Latin America. Organizers expect it to be a "landmark in the evolution of citizen's networks, not only for the level of the issues and participants in the debate, but also because it is a joint undertaking of all the social and political sectors, without which it will not be possible to build a society with equitable access to information." For more information, go to www.globalcn2001.org.

The Sustainable Information Society—Values and Everyday Life Conference will be held in Kouvola, Finland, 27–28 September 2001. This conference seeks to "further the convergence of the key issues in environmental sustainability, the development of the information society, and futures research." It will serve as a forum of discussion and the exchange of best practices between decision and makers and policymakers on the local level of government (cities and municipalities) and experts as well as researchers. For further information, go to: www.kouvola.fi/SIS-Kouvola.

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Feedback: LBSC Newsletter #6

What I found most interesting or useful in the content of this newsletter:

How can the newsletter be improved?

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Please send future issues of this newsletter to the following individuals:

Paula Gotsch, Associate Director
Global Learning, Inc.
1018 Stuyvesant Ave.
Union, NJ 07083
(908) 964 1114
Fax: (908) 964 6335
www.globallearningnj.org

Visit the NJ Sustainable Schools Network Web site at
http://community.nj.com/cc/sustainableschools.

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