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Letter: Move toward sustainability

Fifteen members of the Amery community met for the past eight weeks to study "The Natural Step for Communities." The book, written by Sarah James and Torbjorn Lahti, shows us how cities and towns can change to sustainable practices.

The Natural Step uses a framework that consists of 1) reducing wasteful dependence on fossil fuels, underground metals and minerals, 2) reducing wasteful dependence upon chemicals and unnatural substances, 3) reducing encroachment upon nature and 4) meeting human needs fairly and efficiently.

The study circle applied this model to discussions about renewable energy, transportation, housing, business, architecture, education, agriculture, waste management, biodiversity and land use. The group also reviewed several case studies of communities that have used the framework to change to sustainable practices. We wrapped up by exploring what makes change work, the steps involved and ideas that we might implement in our own lives and communities.

Although each member came to the group with different concepts about what sustainability means, we now have a common language and framework to apply to those ideas. Each of us has also grown, and all of us are making changes in our individual behaviors and lifestyle choices. Many of the members are now composting, conserving water, shopping with cloth bags, purchasing products with fewer or no toxic chemicals, and finding ways to reduce pollution.

Another member said she found hope that a lot of changes toward sustainability and respecting the earth can happen in a short time. For other members who've already been making sustainable choices for years, they found not only hope, but also support and resolve to offer education to others who want to learn more about sustainability.

We invite all communities to learn more about "The Natural Step for Communities" and sustainability by attending an Earth Day celebration Saturday, April 26, from 1-3 p.m. at the Amery Centennial Hall & Senior Center. Members will be on hand to provide information, answer questions, offer encouragement and sign up members for additional study circles. Other groups and individuals, such as Midwest Recycling, Northwest Wisconsin Regional Food Network, Greenway Presentation and Conscious Living Arts will have informational displays about sustainable practices. Kaptain Karl will be lending his musical talents to the celebration. Refreshments and healthy, local or organic snacks will be provided by the sustainability group. For more information, contact Cindi Buenzli at 268-2860.