We began in 1997 as community members having simple conversations around sustainability. This informal group of like-minded people--scientists, researchers, activists--understood there had to be a shift in our daily patterns. They knew that what was once considered radical rhetoric was now a mainstream must--taking a leadership role in putting sustainability at the forefront of our local efforts. And they did.
Inspired by the work of Torbjorn Lahti, the father of the Swedish eco-municipality movement, after members attended his week-long course on The Natural Step in Santa Fe and then Chicago, they brought Lahti to Madison for a half-day session. More than 100 people showed up. From there they planned the next event that generated another and then another until a Sustain Dane Listserv was made, creating a network of backers and solidified the sustainability movement.
By 2003 Sustain Dane was a 501 c3 non-profit. By then we were linking Dane County communities to local and national resources. We made sweeping gestures to become indispensable by creating bylaws and articles of incorporation, and by establishing a Board of Directors with some of Dane County's leading experts on sustainability (social, environmental and economic). And through continued action--growing and backing programs, policies and initiatives with and by individuals, organizations, community leaders and municipalities that support environmental, ecological and economic viability. A mouthful, we know, but what we do.
In a nutshell, it has been our proactive involvement in addressing local issues that create global environmental degradation that has given us our wings. Issues like:
- excessive use of nonrenewable resources (think RainReserve)
- local contribution to global climate change (think Mpower)
- growth of civic engagement (think Bioneers)
And we continue. Through the generous support of a variety of foundations, individuals' and organizations' financial and in-kind contributions, and an outpouring of participation and volunteerism from the community, we flourish.
Along side many other hearts and hands you'll find our fingerprints on these impacting programs and initiatives:
Northwest Earth Institute discussion courses
Food for Thought Festival
Sustain Dane Listserv
MG&E-backed Madison Area Sustainability Directory
First non-profit Community Car member
Natural Step Study Circles
Madison Summit Host
North American Eco-Municipality Network
City of Madison Sustainable Design and Energy Committee
Healthy Children, Healthy Planet
Official Green Guide for Visitors
Dane County Eco-municipalities
Center For Resilient Cities' Resilient Research Center
Badger Rock Sustainable Charter School