Community Education for Sustainable Living

by Amy Ceccoli, Simply Living Board Member

At our current rate of consumption it would require two planet Earths to sustain human life and if everyone lived the way Americans do we would need FOUR planets! We need to act now and live more sustainably. Fortunately, Simply Living members have been acting and educating the central Ohio community for the past 25 years. We know that the solutions lie in the power of collective change. By taking action in our own lives and inspiring the people around us we can see the ways that small changes add up when many of us acquire the knowledge and adopt changes in our lifestyles.

“we have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must . . . live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us!” – Wendell Berry

Education for Sustainability is defined as a transformative learning process that equips people with the new knowledge and ways of thinking we need to achieve economic prosperity and responsible citizenship while restoring the health of the living systems upon which our lives depend. Simply Living has been and continues to be an excellent resource in our community for educating and promoting sustainable solutions. In the past our members have started and run a natural food co-op, a bookstore, a radio station, and some members even started their own intentional community. In this community residents pool their resources and by doing so they contribute less to the mindless consumption in which our society is so good at convincing us we must participate. Today more than ever Simply Living understands the value of learning about the issues and finding local ways to address them through newsletters, films, our meet-ups, Northwest Earth Institute courses and our Sustainable U directory. We strive to connect our community to classes and educational opportunities to make sustainable life choices.

Wendell Berry says that “we have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.” Simply Living members have long understood this. We work to educate so that others will gain the knowledge, skills, and values to address the environmental and social challenges of the coming decades. By learning to think ecologically and to understand the interconnectedness of human and natural systems we hope to apply this understanding so that human and natural ecosystems may thrive.

Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms. Intentional communities, ecovillages, and sustainable cities can reorganize how we live. Utilizing green building, biophilic design, permaculture and sustainable agriculture all contribute to helping the planet help us. We can learn ways to be more sustainable in what we buy, the food we eat, the way we travel, the energy we generate and consume, and the way we bank.

Simply Living members also know that change starts from the bottom up and that starting at the local level is the best way to make the shift. Every Simply Living meet-up is a mini field trip that connects our community to local businesses that share our values and our passion. If you want to make the biggest impact start locally. Our meet-ups have taken us to places like BackRoom Coffee Roasters who give back 1% to the planet. Brother’s Drake Meadery makes mead and sources all the honey to produce it right here in Ohio. We toured the facility and tasted the products. We’ve been to ModoYoga and been inspired by their passion for wellness and their dedication to green living and giving back to the community. Simply Living members were fortunate to board a bus and travel near Zanesville to tour Blue Rock Station, central Ohio’s first EarthShip. The owners, Jay and Annie Warmke, are true pioneers in sustainable living in Ohio. They dwell in a home built from re-purposed material that uses passive solar technology and a unique water cachement system that uses far fewer resources without giving up creature comforts to which we have grown accustomed. They do all this while operating a farm, managing a herd of goats, a flock of chickens, a couple of pigs, and educating the public with tours of the property, various homesteading and solar panel installation classes.

Start with What you Eat.

Simply Living can connect central Ohio to local solutions. Some easy ways to address the issues is to start with what you eat. Support local farmers by spending some of your food dollars at your local Farmer’s Market, join a CSA, try to waste less and buy in bulk when possible. Grow some of your own food. Even if space is limited there is probably somewhere to put a window box or small container to grow fresh herbs. Make your own cleaning products out of non-toxic, effective and inexpensive items like baking soda, lemons and vinegar (see side bar). Make your own personal care products. Coconut oil is an amazing and versatile product that can be put to a multitude of uses. Stop spraying chemicals on your lawn, or better yet, convert your lawn into an edible landscape or plant native species that require little to no watering or maintenance. Switch to a local credit union and keep your money out of big banks. Spend some of your money at local businesses instead of big box stores. Doing this will keep more money in our local economy, create more jobs and more tax revenue that can help strengthen our community.

Live Simply with Mindfulness and intention.

Simply Living has been affiliated with the Northwest Earth Institute for over twenty years and members have learned about and have committed to change on a personal level in a variety of ways. Learning to live simply and with mindfulness and intention have been our goals since our inception and the NWEI has helped many of us attain these goals. The newest discussion course takes this to a whole new level.

Rethinking Business as Usual.

Sustainability Works: Rethinking Business as Usual seeks to reshape business with a mind toward sustainability. This new discussion course is designed to be a guide for transformative learning and change. It will explore how what is good for business and the bottom line can be good for the planet too. Research has shown that being a good corporate citizen can also increase revenue and productivity. More and more consumers and potential employees are seeking out socially responsible companies.

Sustainability is everyone’s business.

Our future depends on finding solutions to living on this planet in harmony with nature. Simply Living is proud to continue in our role to educate and connect the central Ohio community to all things sustainable.

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