When I first got interested in sustainability, one of the simplest and most empowering definitions I ran across was from the Brundtland Commission Report, “Our Common Future,” published in 1987. The full report is available on-line. The definition reads:”Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Found in Chapter 2 of the report.)
I am thrilled to see that my alma mater, University of Virginia School of Architecture, is bestowing the University’s highest honor on the commission’s chairwoman, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. As part of the award ceremonies for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture, she will speak on the campus on Friday, April 11, at 3:00p.m.
Her bio is impressive. She has long been a world leader in sustainable development and health, and was the youngest and first woman prime minister of Norway. The University of Virginia’s press release has a good overview.
It is striking that the ideas and recommendations contained in “Our Common Future” are just as relevant today as they were – twenty! – years ago. They were truly ahead of their time, although leading scientists and experts knew then what the rest of us are only now waking up to. Rather than fret about “it’s too late,” we should all re-read this powerful document and renew our commitment to doing what we can.
It’s full of thoughts like these (remember – written twenty years ago!): Continued
Based at Knoll Farm, a working family farm located in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, the Center for Whole Communities offers workshops, lectures and retreats grounded in the concept that change is made by fostering connections between land, people and community. As a movement that integrates conservation, health, justice, spirit, and relationship, they nurture communities by helping people protect and care for the places they love. The group also publishes books on environmental activism, conservation, and sustainable agriculture practices.
It was a thrill to vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday during the (I prefer to call it) Chesapeake Primary.
I came to my decision about Obama suddenly and with absolute clarity about a month ago, after reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s wonderful book about Lincoln and his cabinet, "Team of Rivals." I was so inspired by Lincoln’s example of brilliant, strategic, and compassionate leadership. The man reached out to his rivals, knowing that they were critical to the work that lay ahead. He readily gave others credit and always took responsibility for anything that went wrong. Because he cared so profoundly about this country, he was unremitting in his drive to prove that self-governance is not an absurdity. He had an easy way with people, was a great storyteller, and could relate in a genuine way to any person.
I know it sounds crazy, but – Lincoln was from Illinois (didn’t quite make Senator), was considered an underdog, and initially underestimated by many. Sound familiar? Just to test my theory, I also read "Dreams From My Father ," Barack Obama’s fascinating memoir of his childhood and early adulthood. He tells of his search for identity and meaning with great candor – Continued
Helicon Works is local architect and ‘green’ builder William Hutchinson. Specializing in environmentally-sensitive architecture and building practices Bill has accepted projects from Maryland and Virginia to Santa Barbara and Southern Baja. Bill designed and built his own house, which features straw bale walls, a living roof, solar pv, corn stove and is equipped with his own biofuel filling station. You can even take a tour of his home or get involved by taking a workshop. Visit the Helicon Works website for more info.
The Baltimore Harbor Watershed Association’s mission is to protect and improve the environmental quality and natural beauty of the Baltimore Harbor and its tributaries. Specifically, they plan on installing a trash netting/collection system around the harbor, creating educational trash programs in the neighborhoods and school systems, and addressing the water quality issues in the city’s harbor and tributaries. More information on the organization, the watershed, and volunteer opportunities can be found on their website.
Baltimore Bioneers is the regional branch of the overarching Bioneers community, a “forum for connecting the environment, health, social justice, and spirit within a broad progressive framework.” Combining both the social justice and environmental movements, Baltimore Bioneers works to foster new opportunities for creating solutions for restoring the earth and healing communities. Along with other satellite locations throughout North America, Baltimore Bioneers hosts an annual conference that features local speakers, panels, and workshops, while also broadcasting the plenary talks of the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA. Their website features history of the organization, information on the conference, and ways to get involved.