• Taking the Next Sustainable Step

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    By Claire Partlow

    As our ten-week project has drawn to a close, the UST team reflects on what has been a productive and insightful first step into Sustainable Small Business in Savannah. Throughout this project we have endured a rigorous process of ethnographic research and analysis. We also had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing numerous “champions” of sustainability in Savannah. In addition to our research, we hosted three events to gain feedback from key stakeholders. Through our extensive research process, we were able to discover compelling insights that are supported by data.

    After gathering some initial research, we decided to host a workshop event to share our preliminary insights with our stakeholders, for the purpose of gaining their feedback and perspectives on our progress thus far. This event was a success because it was an opportunity for the stakeholders to meet and discuss their needs and concerns regarding sustainability in Savannah. They were also able to make us aware of any potential issues and barriers we may have overlooked at that point in our research.

    Through our research, we discovered a need for connection and partnerships between sustainable businesses in Savannah. There are sustainable businesses in Savannah, such as Grow-Eat-Repeat and Solar Smith, that have the potential to transform the business landscape in Savannah through sustainable services such as composting and solar power.

    These businesses, and others like them, could create a large-scale transition toward sustainability in Savannah, if the right partnerships are cultivated. In order to deepen connections between stakeholders and creating potential opportunities for them to collaborate, we hosted a “Green Speed Dating” event at local farm-to-table restaurant, Cha Bella. This gave us the opportunity to bring together sustainists of Savannah and allow them to “date” and brainstorm hypothetical partnerships and projects their businesses (or organizations) could collaborate on. The “dates” produced several interesting ideas We feel this event was a huge success and would be great as an ongoing event in the future.

    In addition to hosting three events, we also developed a campaign for small businesses and individuals that want to know more about adopting sustainable practices. As the first step in the campaign, we developed a toolkit named “U.S.T. Sustainable Adoption Companion”. This guide includes 12 Steps to adopting greener, more sustainable business practices—whether you are a newbie, or a veteran business owner.

     

    We also leave behind the Green Map to grow and be carried on by Net Impact and local champions of sustainability. If you are interested in contributing to Savannah’s Green Map, you can check out the site at Greenmap.org or contact us via Savannahgreenmap@gmail.com

    It is our hope that Savannah’s Green Map will continue to grow in the future and serve as a valuable networking tool, creating partnerships through sustainability. ­­We realize there will be other teams in the future pick up where we left off, and continue to build upon what we have started. We know our efforts will not be in vain, because we believe if we are united, we can create a sustainable tomorrow.

  • How Will Our Next Date Look?

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    By Alexis X.A. Roberts

    Insights are indeed the keys to good design: We had heard from our Green Business stakeholders in Savannah that the existing social events geared toward sustainability in town had grown unfruitful, and a little stale. We responded to this with a Green Speed Dating event. To be clear, we weren’t actually trying to have our Green Business Owners date one another. Instead, this event was meant to introduce our stakeholders to a new way of approaching the existing social landscape of Savannah’s Small Green Business network. Our Green Speed Dating was intended to stimulate conversations around future plans, and around the idea that innovative collaborations between businesses can create the right conditions to nurture those plans.

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  • Keys to Meaning + Good Design

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    - A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience. – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

    by Alexis X.A. Roberts

    Insights are the keys to design that are meaningful and compelling. We shared some of these insights with a number of pioneers of Green Business in Savannah to gather more input during our midterm presentation and workshop. Now the challenge was to bring our original insights and these newly discovered ones together to inform our next step. We had just over a weekend to make them come to life but we ended up with something exciting which you’ll read about in a later post. Here’s a little bit about the journey we took to get there.

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  • We’re All In This Together

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    By Claire Partlow

    We live in a world of interconnected systems. Each seemingly insignificant decision you make has a ripple effect of varying consequences that affect other systems. According to scientist and author Donella Meadows, “a system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. A system must consist of three things: elements, interconnections and a function or purpose” 

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  • To Affinity and Beyond!

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    By Claire Partlow

    Our Sustainable Small-Business in Savannah project has a new name—U.S.T.—which stands for United for a Sustainable Tomorrow. Our team has been gaining a lot of momentum in the past few weeks, and we are excited about the direction our research is headed!

    This past week we concluded our stakeholder interviews with various small-business owners and key actors in Savannah (28 interviews in all…and a few more to come!). Not only did we enjoy engaging in insightful conversations with some of the champions of sustainable business thinking in Savannah, we also discovered some surprising data and unique perspectives. We’re grateful, too, for all of the background material that was supplied to us. We understand that we’re not the first ones–SCAD students, community leaders or business people–to be exploring the idea of nurturing.

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  • Perhaps Nature Has Not Lost Its Meaning After All

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    By Alexis X.A. Roberts

    If sustainability is defined as the ability to continue a defined behavior indefinitely, it stands to reason that those behaviors must be conducive to life itself. Sustainability has often been viewed as being simply ecological in nature: The experts have tied our survival as a species to our management of natural capital. Yet, true sustainability must also consider the many aspects of day-to-day living, which includes an interconnected web of factors. More than simply nature, meaning is at the heart of why we fight to sustain the good within our daily lives. The  list of people in Savannah who not only live, but work with a sustainable future in mind seems to grow by the month. Our team has been seeking to connect with these people , and we’ve found many.

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  • Savannah Green Map: Sneak Peek

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    By Claire Partlow

    What if we could empower communities worldwide to form networks supporting the core beliefs of Sustainability? What if we could unite local businesses, leaders, artists, teachers, suppliers and every day civilians? What if there was a website that compiled data about all the sustainable businesses in your area? Guess what…it exists! Look no further than The Green Map! The Green Map is a tool developed by Thomas Turnbull, Lela Prasa, Wendy E. Brawer, Marissa Feinberg and many other contributors of The Green Map Organization. The mission of the Green Map is to “engage communities worldwide in mapping green living, nature and cultural resources”.

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  • “Ending an Era, Starting a Revolution”

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    by: Claire Partlow

    Most people would agree the Industrial Revolution rapidly transformed the quality of life in the United States and created the concept of the “American Dream.” Industrialization of numerous countries around the world also took place around the same time.  Overall, people around the world were overjoyed by the advancements in medicine, public education, and material wellbeing. However, innovation came at a price.

    Approximately 195 years later, the United States is “consuming 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuels with only 5 percent of the population” (Senge, 2008, p. 5). This lifestyle of mass-consumerism and overconsumption has devastated the natural environment and created global social inequity. Now we must reevaluate the ideologies that lead us to where we are.

    According to Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution, humanity is destined for extinction if we don’t succeed in the notorious “80/20 Challenge”. Senge explains that the global community must succeed in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in the next 20 years if we are to have a hope of saving the Earth from reaching the “tipping point” of ecological destruction.

    You may be wondering, “How is an 80 percent reduction in emissions even possible?”  When humanity’s impending doom is at stake, we must find a way. Succeeding at the 80/20 Challenge is possible. However, all of Earth’s citizens must first admit to ourselves that the Era of Industrialization is unsustainable.

    As a global community, it is imperative that we find it in ourselves to commit to creating a sustainable revolution in the way we live, work and collaborate. We must find a way to thrive together in harmony with the environment, in order to create a truly sustainable world. Endings are not truly the end, but merely the beginning of something new.

    Please stay tuned to this blog to learn more about what a SCAD Sustainable Practices in Design will be doing in Savannah to help drive the kind of change we need. For some background on what’s been done in the past through SCAD’s Design for Sustainability program, you can look all the way back to 2011 on this blog, at a time we were preparing for SCAD’s Design Ethos DO-ference in 2012. Since then, one class after another, one thesis student after another, one intern after another, we’ve been finding ways to help amplify the voices of champions for sustainable change, here in Savannah and beyond.

    And keep reading to find out how we will carry on this legacy.

    “The Industrial Age was not planned but innovated. The next age will be no different…” –Peter Senge, The Necessary Revolution

    Ready to take action? Keep following us to learn more what you can do here in Savannah. And here’s how you can learn more about some principles of sustainability and join the revolution:

    1) Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

    2) The Necessary Revolution –Peter Senge

    3) Racing Extinction