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Sustainability

Sustainable Communities Public Policy Report Now Available!  The final report from the March 2010 Sustainable Communities Public Policy Forum held at UW-Fox Valley, and an Executive Summary, are now available.  The report contains findings and recommendations, gathered at public roundtable sessions and the policy forum, for sustainble community approaches and policies in Wisconsin and beyond. Check it out!

Sustainability means to live in our communities  in ways that ensure that our economy and society can continue to exist without destroying the natural environment on which we all depend. Sustainable communities acknowledge that there are limits to the natural and social systems we live in and depend on.  Sustainability requires a long-term and systems-thinking approach to understand and effectively respond to current trends and develop creative solutions.

Between 2007 and 2008, four communities in Winnebago County made a formal committment to move towards becoming a sustainable community. Each community passed resolutions to adopt either the Natural Step Framework, the Mayor’s Climate Change Agreement, or both. Each community has its own sustainability board, which is working with staff to explore ideas, identify projects, and discuss what their community would look like if it were truly sustainable. Each link below will allow you to explore the groups’ activities, successes, focus, and contact information. For more information on sustainable communities, you may also contact Catherine Neiswender at cneiswender@co.winnebago.wi.us.

Sustainable Neenah
Sustainable Oshkosh
Sustainable Menasha (City)
Sustainable Menasha (Town)

Web Resources

UW-Extension Sustainable Communities Capacity Center Website – links to resources, case studies, and connections for Wisconsin communities and eco-municipalities striving to become sustainable.

Sustainable Fox Valley   – is a non-profit educational, grass roots organization in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley area (Neenah-Menasha-Appleton and surrounding areas).  They partner with public and private entities to build awareness and implement actins toward a sustainable future.  Check out their website and Facebook page.  

ECOS-Fox Valley Blog - ECOS-Fox Valley is a coalition of non-profit organizations, businesses, governments and citizens that plans with and advocates for the Fox Valley region, for a future that is locally self-reliant and that sustains the regional and global environment.

Natural Step Sustainability Study Circles – an effective way to raise awareness about sustainbility

“Perhaps the most important factor to why we were successful in becoming an eco-municipality were study circles…It’s a question of taking control over their own situation and their own future.” – Torbjorn Lahti, Project Leader Swedish Eco-Municipality movement

  • What is a study circle? - A study circle is a peer learning activity. A group of individuals reads “The Natural Step for Communities” book together, meets regularly and discusses a list of questions designed to deepen their understanding of The Natural Step concepts and applications in their community. The goals of the Natural Step study circle program are to provide information, motivation and support for individuals in a community to become actively involved in efforts to make their community more sustainable.
  • How do I get one started? – recruit up 15 people to join you in reading the book and meeting regularly to discuss the questions. Groups can come from organizations you belong to, your neighbors, or your co-workers or department. Detailed facilitator instructions and guidelines are provided in the study guides.
  • What’s involved? – Depending on how many chapters you read for each session, they should last 1-1.5 hours. Each session starts with a round of reactions to the selected reading, then a series of questions is discussed. Each session closes with another round of responses to a final question. You can enhance each session by adding in a “Sustainability Search” (described in the 4-session guide). Study circles can meet just about anywhere – in someone’s living room, public meeting space, office, or coffee shop. A relatively quiet environment that allows un-distracted conversation is best.

Questions and Materials? If you are interested in starting a study circle, or would like to preveiw the study guide materials, Don’t hesitate to email catherine.neiswender@ces.uwex.edu.