Sustainable communities & schools

I have a dream: That humanity will …. Learn to live sustainably within the limits of our finite world. David Wasdell

I think my dreams were not big enough. I was looking for equality, not transformation. … We are all linked, not ranked. Gloria Steinem

We need to keep both hopeful dreams and nightmare scenarios in mind if we are to build a world that can support life and is sustainable. Sally Weintrobe

FDR’s last written words!

Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive,
we must cultivate the science of human relationships -
the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at peace. Franklin Delanor Roosevelt

There's No Planet B


This page explores sustainability and provides principled procedures to guide decision making and implementation of procedures to support sustainable communities for better quality lives for all community memembers and a sustainable Earth. Also includes guidelines for green schools and resources for sustainable communities and climate change.

Focus questions:

Goals and roles

  1. Knowledge - What do you know? 
    • Critical thinking, for effective decision making skills
    • Sustainable ecological and physical systems
    • Political, cultural and social systems for effective civic participation
    • Environmental issue awareness
    • Action strategies and citizen participation 
    • Many solutions to environmental problems 
    • Basic civic knowledge of government, history, law, and democracy
  2. Dispositions - How do you respond to environmental problems? 
    • Responsible character traits and acceptance of democratic values and dispositions.
    • Concerns and attitudes to the environment 
    • Sensitivity
    • Personal responsibility assumption
    • Concerns and attitudes to the environment 
    • Self-efficacy 
    • Intent and motivation to take action 
  3. Competencies - What skills and abilities do you possess? When and how do you apply them? 
    • Identify environmental problems
    • Question about environmental problems under different environmental conditions 
    • Analyze environmental problems
    • Use primary and secondary sources to investigate the science and social aspects of 
      environmental problems
    • Assess and make judgments on environmental problems considering the socio-political systems
    • Use evidence and knowledge-based facts to propose solutions to the problems
    • Verbal, social, emotional, communication, media skills
    • Monitor and evaluate plans to solve environmental problems at various levels and scales 
  4. Responsible behavior towards the environment 
    • Participatory experiences, and on going
    • Participation is habitual and deliberate behaviors individually and within groups to solve current environmental problems sustainably and prevent reemergence of new ones.

Historical development of environmental eduation and sustainable development

  • Ideas on historical perspectives and thoughts on the environment,
  • The state of environmental education (EE),
  • A framework to use to integrate EE and sustainable development (SD) with educational topics,
  • Research to support EE and SD,
  • Ideas on environmental curriculum,
  • Ideas for planning EE & SD,
  • Suggestions to integrate environmental issues into content areas, and
  • Suggestions to plan ecosystem investigations.

See - EE & SD

Assertion of Native Lands

We acknowledge that we are on the ancestral lands of the Umoⁿhoⁿ (Omaha) and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Sioux) who were removed to our benefits. We honor them as we live, work, and study here by appreciating nature and trying to live sustainable lives in harmony with all living beings with whom we interact.

Principled procedures for decision makers in sustainable communities

A sustainable Earth isn’t just the physical matter that is the planet. To be sustainable we must consider the health of all living organisms: their physical, social, psychic systems and their relationships that make them healthy and enduring.

Principled procedures are descriptions of the kinds of actions people will use to guide their decisions and interactions based on their beliefs, wisdom of practice, research, and ethical considerations. In this case for the manner in which people want to be treated and to support a sustainable Earth.

  1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth.
  2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.
  3. ecological world view
  4. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.
  5. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).
  6. Understand the ultimate unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of ‘labor saving’ if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.
  7. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of national or global economy.
  8. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.
  9. Strive to supply as much of the community’s own energy as possible.
  10. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community for as long as possible before they are paid out.
  11. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.
  12. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.
  13. See that the old and young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily, and not always in school. There must be no institutionalized childcare and no homes for the aged. The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.
  14. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or externalized. Whenever possible, these must be debited against monetary income.
  15. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programs, systems of barter, and the like.
  16. Always be aware of the economic value of neighborly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighborhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.
  17. A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.
  18. A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.


Source Wendell Berry. Conserving communities.
In The case against the global economy: and a tune toward local. Sierra Club Books. 1996


Guidelines for green public schools

  1. Curriculum will include opportunities for students to learn about climate change and sustainable solutions to prepare them as global citizens and for good jobs in a green economy.
  2. Public school buildings will run on renewable energy, have healthy air, and clean water, and be prepared for any local climate impacts.
  3. Public school's land will be a sustainable safe place to play and learn. Considering the use of the lands impact on its neighboring community's environment (heat, water runoff, flooding, ...)
  4. Transportation for students will run on clean electricity or cleaner fuels.
  5. Public schools will serve healthy food, with strong consideration for using locally grown. Consider how not to waste food and when food isn't used it is diverted or composted.


Additional resources

Keepers of the Animals Keepers of the Earth Keepers of the Night


Waste hero lesson library:

Very good introductory lessons to develop understanding of waste, recycling, reuse, non=renuables, circular life cycle and circular business model (sustainable) Includes .pdf files, powerpoints, and worksheets.

Each grade level has three lessons that fit a learning cycle model across K-12 with five levels.

Primary K-2 Lessons include:

Level 2 Grades 3-5

Level 3 - Grades 6-8

  • Beginner Lesson - Waste Leakage In The Environment
  • Intermediate Lesson - A Waste Hero's Story types for recycling
  • Advanced Lesson - My Waste Audit - audit process with form

Level 4 - Grades 9-10

  • Beginner Lesson - Linear vs Circular Life Cycle
  • Intermediate Lesson - Creating The Circular Economy
  • Advanced Lesson - Circular Design Challenge
  • Circular Lifecycle Map

Level 5 - Grades 11-12

How to create a circular business model

  • Beginner Lesson - Circular Case Study
  • Intermediate Lesson - Redesign For Circularity
  • Advanced Lesson - Circular Business Model Canvas


There's No Planet B

Why Mars isn't an option to save humanity

People who argue for space exploration as a soution should be remined, Mars is a very inhospitable place. For example:

  • Mars' temperature can regularly reach minus 81 degrees F.
  • The planet’s atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide.
  • Reduced gravity would require daily training to stay in shape.
  • Its soil has perchlorates (chlorine compounds) that make it poisonous to life.
  • It gets only 60% of the amount of light the Earth gets.
  • The psychological effects of being isolated on a hostile planet.
  • Travel to and from at its best is only every two years when Mar’s orbit is closest to Earth.
  • A communication with anyone on Earth would take between 4 and 20 minutes for the signal to travel from one planet to the other depending on their relative positions.

Ideas on plastic pollution

  • We must have a treaty or global agreement to achieve a circular economy where plastic is reused and waste prevention through limiting production.
  • Continued plastic use must be designed for longevity of the plastic materials along with building an infrastructure for reuse systems.
  • Present subsidies to the fossil fuel industry need to be stopped.
  • Someone needs to claim responsibility for plastic cleanup and building a new infrastructure.
  • Those who use plastic need to accept the real cost of plastic use to society, health, and the environment to make it cost effective to make a switch.
  • Recognize that reduced production is not a viable solution, but a smokescreen for change.
  • Must reject any limiting of implementation of a solution which is not comprehensive.
  • Must recognize the immediate urgency to prohibit particular plastic products polymers and other restricted plastics.
  • Recognize that plastics have exceeded a safe operating space for human rights of a safe and clean environment.
  • We must recognize that our current political systems are historically ill suited to address crises. As they are slow and cumbersome as lobbyist push for a laizse-fare unregulated economy and politicians are afraid to take bold actions that might upset the powerbrokers of wall street. So they cobble together timid solutions hoping to appear that they will solve the problems, but they will not.

Climate change comic: I'll be fine I brought an umbrella

Comic on climate change



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