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- All Subjects: Sustainability
Robèrt Forgot Goulet: Augmenting TNS with the Capabilities Approach to Support the Social Dimensions of Sustainability
While the definition of sustainability remains open for all to contribute to and participate in, there do seem to be some notions it has come to embody that should not be neglected as the definition coalesces. Among these are the ethical and social dimensions of sustainability. Whether or not it is appropriate, required, or even desirable, concepts like social equity, human rights, ethical sharing of commons, etc. have increasingly come under the umbrella of the sustainability discourse. Even if “sustainability” as a bare word doesn’t imply those things, the concept of sustainable development certainly has taken on those dimensions. That sustainability might be redefined or re-scoped to be a purely environmental or a rigidly scientific endeavor, is not an immediate concern of this paper, though if that were to occur (whether for the sake of simplicity or pragmatics), it should be done explicitly so the ethical sub-discourse can be maintained (indeed, sustained) by some other movement.
This paper proposes a mechanism by which such a migration in terms can be prevented. First, in reviewing the work of Denis Goulet, it shows the solid basis for including an ethical aspect in the sustainability discourse. Second, it points out that Karl-Henrik Robèrt’s highly-lauded and broadly-employed sustainability framework, The Natural Step, is deficient in this area. This deficiency provides the impetus for, finally, proposing a mechanism by which The Natural Step can be extended to include the important social and ethical dimensions of sustainability. This mechanism is based on the capabilities approaches that, in many respects, evolved out of Goulet’s early work. Augmented accordingly, TNS can continue to be used without fear of overlooking the social and ethical aspects of the sustainability discourse.
The City of Apache Junction is located in an environmentally and culturally rich location on the eastern edge of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. This suburb is expected to grow in the future with undeveloped land zoned for development. Despite its uniqueness, the city is challenged by a negative reputation in the region. To help improve the city's image and promote development, the City of Apache Junction has partnered with Arizona State University's Project Cities program. Through this partnership both parties work to work toward sustainable development of Apache Junction. This Culminating Experience project is one of several initiatives working for and with the city to help improve quality of life for residents. The project asks, how can we measure, identify, and promote locations of high community value in Apache Junction to attract new residents and create more development opportunities? A Public Participation GIS methodology was used to survey residents about their favorite locations in Apache Junction, participants were asked to mark their favorite locations on a paper map with stickers. Each sticker had a different color and corresponded with different values. The values were: recreational, cultural, spiritual, aesthetic, and special place values. All survey responses were transferred from physical maps to online geographic survey website Maptionnaire. Running statistical and geospatial analysis, survey found 6 locations in Apache Junction with highest density values. Findings from this project will be delivered to city of Apache Junction for integration into the Positively Apache Junction rebranding campaign and future urban development decisions.
Girl Scouts – Arizona Cactus-Pine Council is a mission driven organization that aims to help build the leaders of tomorrow. Girls in Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-pine are served through mission building programs that aim to build girls of courage confidence and character who make the world a better place (Girl Scouts, 2017). The intention of my sustainability engagement initiative was to ask staff to take part in a three-phased program that encouraged them to think differently. The initiative asked them to look at how, as an organization they can work to improve their sustainability habits. Tasking them to be just as impactful as the girl members that are served through Girl Scouting. However, as planning progressed towards implementation, plans were put on hold as the organization restructured due to a major culture shift outside the organization. Sustainability still remains a focus, and the engagement plan will be put into effect at a later time.
The purpose of this paper is to identify the absence of sustainability teachings within our private school systems, introduce a program for the school systems to incorporate into existing curriculum, and present the process that would be needed to be followed for introduction of this program. There is a growing interest in the topic of sustainability and how it potentially will affect the next generations. Today some large companies and even some countries around the world are engaging in sustainability practices. Currently this is a very small piece of action regarding what needs to take place to hope to promote change around the world. Layering sustainable teachings and practices into children in their formidable years through graduation from high-school will bring about individuals that incorporate sustainable living into their everyday personal and professional lives. Repeating this practice generation after generation will ensure a sustainable planet.
Greater cross-disciplinary collaboration between the fields of sustainability and clinical psychology could lead to improved outcomes for both. Moreover, some forms of mental disorder, such as PTSD and Moral Injury, constitute serious challenges that require the attention of sustainability’s interdisciplinary, systems-focused, solutionsoriented approach. My research frames the impacts of combat-related psychological trauma on military veterans as a sustainability problem according to criteria put forward by Arnim Wiek’s Transformational Problem Solving framework. I also provide a review of studies demonstrating the treatment benefits of agricultural therapy for veterans diagnosed with PTSD or symptoms associated with Moral Injury. I then describe my own efforts investigating the connection between trauma and sustainability using survey measurements, interviews, and participant observation onsite at Growing Veterans farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington. The results strongly suggest that sustainable agricultural can be of powerful clinical benefit to traumatized veterans and that sustainable behaviors and values in general increased as trauma symptoms decreased. More broadly, the project indicates that slight shifts in how we approach solution formulation and how we articulate and disseminate sustainability messages could have profound positive effects on the sustainability’s success.
Strategies and interventions have promoted the sustainability of urban communities, but effective communication of these solutions is lacking. Documentation of current solutions tends to be dense and difficult for non-academics to understand. Sustainability scientists and practitioners need ways to meaningfully and intelligibly communicate their experiences to the lay public. This project sought to visually present sustainable community development solutions to address this communication barrier. Members of urban/community gardens in Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona, and Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark, were photographed, interviewed. Their feedback was then examined to assess the degree to which photographs can tell a holistic sustainability story.
The photographs focused on aspects of life and behaviors that have contributed to happiness in local communities. A website was created and a gallery event was mounted for public review and discussion. Gallery attendees and website visitors were asked to complete a survey to assess (1) gained knowledge of sustainability solutions, and (2) how effective a tool photography is as a means of sustainability solutions communication.
This visual medium allowed people think about how to incorporate sustainable community solutions into their own lives and may have changed people’s interest in, and thoughts about, overall sustainability and sustainable solutions. The survey results demonstrated that photographs can successfully communicate sustainability ideas. Specifically, viewers gained an increased awareness of how community and urban gardening can increase happiness, well-being, and sense of community. This visual approach can continue to be used to more successfully communicate additional sustainability solutions ideas and methods to the public.
Local food systems are now facing a new set of intersecting economic, social and environmental challenges. Recurrent socio-economic and biophysical changes put the sustainability of food systems at risk. There is an urgent need to develop knowledge-based tools or metrics to assess and monitor food sustainability and to identify pathways for food security and resource conservation. Stern Produce is a small scale, family owned business that has been serving our local Arizona community for a 100 years now since 1917. Essentially, it is a food distribution company that conducts wholesale supply of agricultural farm produce, dairy products and meat. Their mission is to supply the freshest fruits, vegetables and specialty food products with a first-class customer delivery experience. Recently, it has embraced the responsibility to conduct business in a manner that fosters societal resilience, invests in community wellness and environmental health. In order to do so, Stern has introduced an exclusive local food program in their organization named as the Arizona Fresh Together (AFT) program. The AFT program is intended to serve as a sourcing platform for the local restaurants and retail stores to procure sustainable food from our valley based local organic growers. This project, in partnership with Stern Produce’s Sustainability Manager, aimed to identify core comprehensive sustainability metrics to develop sustainability baseline indicators and assess the impacts of these indicators on the three tenets of sustainability: economy, environment and society, in addition to human health and wellness. By formulating these metrics, Stern Produce acknowledges the significance of transparency in their business operations and changing their business model towards a triple bottom line orientation. Based on the findings, the project assisted Stern in identifying the intervention points and facilitated cross departmental engagement in the AFT program in order to encourage value added business operations.
An Exploration of Communicating Sustainability Ideas Through Technology to Inspire Sustainable Urban Planning Practice
This report describes the process by which I created a concise but comprehensive online source of information about best practices in sustainability for urban planners. The goal of the project was to provide accessible information that would help planners in ways that help them comprehend and implement sustainable solutions to common planning problems that are found throughout the United States. To create the website, I researched methods for communicating clearly to planners, took a graduate course in communicating about sustainability, and drew on information that I had compiled on sustainable solutions for transportation, economy, water, green space, and governance.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cause climate change, and if the world does not lower its GHG emissions soon, it will cause irreversible damage that will have overwhelmingly negative cascading effects on the entire planet (Mann & Kump, 2008). Up to 47% of the United States GHG emissions are the result of energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods that we consume (US EPA, 2009). The linear-economy status quo does nothing to slow down climate change because it puts resources into landfills. This project promotes a circular economy which combats climate change by reusing resources that are at the end of their life cycle, e.g., food waste soil. The project was a month-long compost competition at an apartment building in Phoenix, AZ that houses 194 residents. The apartment building, Urban Living 2 (UL2), is subsidized housing owned by Native American Connections (NAC), a non-profit organization. The project’s main objective was to increase waste diversion. This was done through composting and improving zero-waste capacity. The compost competition included activities to change community behavior such as private and public commitments, a community barbecue, a movie night (which replaced a planned field trip), and a visioning meeting. By the end of the project, 22% of the tenants were composting. Over a year-long period, this equates to a diversion of, 6000 pounds from the landfill and 1.59 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). The waste diversion increased from 28% to 38%. Tenant participation trended upwards during the project and as the social norm develops over time, more tenant participation is expected even after the competition is over. The six indicators that were used to determine the zero-waste capacity, collectively went up by 1.24 points on a five-point scale. This project will be used as a model for NAC for its other 16 properties in the Valley.
"Community and Composting in Victory Acres” implemented a pilot composting program for a local neighborhood in an effort to increase community cohesion. Victory Acres is a low-income, culturally diverse neighborhood located in Tempe that used to have easier access to the Escalante Community Center before the 101 freeway divided the community. Residents of the neighborhoods surrounding ECC do not have access to the Escalante Community Garden except on Community Harvest Days twice a month. The goal of the project was to reconnect broken ties to the ECG through a neighborhood composting service. Through composting, residents could directly benefit from the community garden’s composting capabilities while encouraging a more sustainable method for dealing with food waste. The composting pilot project in Victory Acres was used as a way to mitigate the greenhouse gases emanating from food waste along with other neighborhood issues. The project would encourage aspects of community cohesion, sustainability, and happiness. By the completion of the project, composting in the neighborhood could continue through increased access to the Escalante Community Center Garden. An assessment via survey responses was made on improvements in perceived community connectedness, sustainability, and happiness. The pilot was unsuccessful in gaining a large client base for composting participation, but it was successful in exploring challenges and barriers to implementation of projects in Victory Acres. Several intervention points were explored, several lessons were learned from successful and unsuccessful engagement techniques, and opportunities arose for further future research.