Visioning a "Sustainable Chicagoland"

Help develop a vision for a "Sustainable Chicagoland". What processes are needed? How can we help nourish them?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Our Next CUP Event will be
Wednesday, May 12, 7-9 pm
A guided discussion on grappling with sustainability.
At North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski, Chicago.
Titled The Shapes of Sustainability: Grappling with it's various forms.

Questions will include: What does sustainability look like? What are some of it's various visions, definitions and characterizations? Consider whether it's attainable; And if so, how can we speed it up?

What does sustainability look like? How do its aspects shape up?
Its appearances seem to fall into at least six flavors:
1) Is our sustainability in adequate shape? Globally? Locally?
2) As generally used, is it a well formed concept?
3) Can we get our hands on it? -- How likely is it to be adequately defined, measurable and achievable?
4) It's an entity arising in extended conceptual space -- encompassing Social, Economic and Ecological (SEE) dimensions, but so far it seems difficult to celebrate the interconnections and adjudicate between conflicting needs and values.
5) How important does it appear? -- Is it languishing, largely unattended in our conceptual closets or does it loom ominously, over our personal and community planning horizons?
Is it a campaign issue?
6) Is it a sufficient goal? -- Perhaps more needed "is a *restorative* culture, where we give more than we take -- to each other as well as to the Earth." -Tad Montgomery

<< A fundamental insight >>
Sustainability is fundamentally about maintaining valued things or dynamics that already exist. This contrasts with the concept of 'genuine progress' which is about the creation of improvements that go beyond anything that has ever existed.

One of many intriguing statments taken from
Sustainability: Woolly, feel-good & unachievable? Or a vital goal for practical action? By Philip Sutton, Director, Policy and Strategy
Green Innovations Inc. Melbourne, AU

Sutton classified hundreds of definitions into four basic definition types:
1. the differentiating essence - what the thing or action is
2. a preferred application
3. the key strategies for achieving the outcome in question
4. the key indicators or desired outcomes arising from the operation or existence of the concept in question. - the consequences of the thing or action being in existence

Most ...were of type 3 or 4 (ie. focussed on the strategies for pursuing sustainability or the outcomes of sustainability) and yet you can really only be clear about what sustainability is at the core if you start with a dictionary-style definition (type 1).

Sutton also proposes 'ecological take-off' as a condition where: ...concern for the environment is embedded in the mainstream culture (both civic and business)
posted by Rael  # 3:09 PM


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