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Capital “S” Sustainability - Badger Bioneers 2015 Opening Remarks

Posted: 3:36PM December 14th, 2015 | Comments

“Capital "S” Sustainability: 2015 Badger Bioneers Opening Remarks
Written and delivered by Jessie Lerner, Executive Director, Sustain Dane at Badger Bioneers 2015, November 10, 2015

Good morning! My name is Jessie Lerner and while I have been with Sustain Dane for 8 years, I’ve had the honor of serving as Sustain Dane’s Executive Director for the past two! 

Can you believe it’s Badger Bioneers 2015 already?! We have a hands-on, minds-on day planned where we will explore the connections between social, environmental and economic sustainability. This is what we at Sustain Dane call Big “S” sustainability. Big S lies at the intersection of a strong, healthy, equitable society; a clean and healthy environment; and a just and thriving economy, or to borrow the tagline from Edgewood’s Sustainable Leadership Program, Big S is “wellbeing for all, forever”.

We are not alone. There are people and organizations across the region who are working towards Big S Sustainability! I would like to take a few minutes to give some “BIG S HIGH FIVES” to some folks working at the intersection. To all the people and organizations working on increasing and improving public transit in Madison- big s high five because in the words of our Willy Wash friends: mobility equals equity.

Big S high five to all working towards eliminating the racial disparities in Dane County. Until Ebony or Telemundo rank Madison in a top places to live, we are not a sustainable community. To all working to create the energy systems and policies of the future – big S high five. I imagine a day where everybody, all over the world, has access to clean and reliable energy.

We want to hear your Big S High Fives. Throughout the day please add your examples of projects that engage at least two of the three spheres of sustainability– social, environmental or economic - and share them on today’s “Big S High Five Wall” or hashtag on social media #bigShighfive

Let’s celebrate the innovative work going on in the Greater Madison Region and beyond! Today, we are going to be talking a lot about how to integrate equity issues as a fundamental aspect of sustainability. Not an add on, or a nice have, but a fundamental aspect of sustainability. A more holistic view of sustainability means explicitly embedding equity into our work. Look at us, we are predominantly white movement and I acknowledge this and Sustain Dane acknowledges this.  As we work towards this more holistic approach we won’t always get it right. There will be points along the way where we make mistakes. But without taking a risk, our efforts toward creating a sustainable world will fall short. Today and tomorrow I encourage you to join Sustain Dane and take risks.   

I’d like to thank our many sponsors who have made today possible. Please take a moment to flip to the back of your program to see how many organizations contributed to our cause.  We are lucky to have a generous corporate community. I’d like to give special acknowledgement and appreciation to our Mendota sponsors: Organic Valley, MGE and The Kailo Fund for your support.

To get to know the exhibiting sponsors we have an exhibit table game. Behind the donation card in your program, you can find a yellow card. During the day, visit 3 exhibitor tables, jot down their names and one thing you learned. Drop your completed card at the Sustain Dane Exhibit Table to be entered to win prizes donated from planet bike and MGE to help you keep up your commitment to sustainable behaviors.  

Thank you to the many hands, minds, and volunteers that made today possible. I’d like to acknowledge our student facilitators from Edgewood College, Madison College, and the University of Wisconsin. They will guide us in the dynamic activities and are wearing the grey and green shirts! Will you please raise your hand? You guys are awesome!

I’d like to acknowledge our committed Sustain Dane Staff, Board, interns and volunteers. Please stand up, I want to make sure that everyone in the room knows who you are. We make a great team. If you have questions during the day that your facilitator can’t answer, please find me or one of the other Sustain Dane staff:  Amy, Julie, Lauren, Stacie.

Special shout out to Gregg with Project Kinect. You’ll get to know him shortly. I hope you enjoy his good spirit as much as we have in preparing for today. Vanessa with Adorable, Our volunteer, volunteer coordinator; Michelle and her Promote Local Team for all things marketing; Karen with Madison Magazine for leading the local spotlight conversation with our Badger Bioneers. Yes, a lot of people are responsible for making today happen. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we play to our strengths, for a common goal.

You’ll notice each of you have a recycled cardboard business card holder at your seat. Please swap business cards with the new friends you will meet!

Is this anyone’s first time at Badger Bioneers? Welcome! You may be wondering what a “Bioneer” is. Think Biology and Pioneer and smash them together. Bioneers is a cutting edge conference going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for 26 years. Sustain Dane is among a select group of a dozen satellite conference around the country sharing Bioneers keynotes before the public has access to them. Bioneers are leading social and scientific innovators that share breakthrough solutions for restoring people and the planet. Bioneers gain inspirations from natural systems which are networked and have no waste.

Thanks to the many hearts and hands that made the first Badger Bioneers possible. I know there are a few of you in the audience who planned or attended Bioneers in 2009. Would you please raise your hand. Without your vision and dedication, we would not be here today. Thank you! We know that that the sustainability movement will continue to evolve, how it does we can't predict. I firmly believe that to have a greater impact and to make this movement successful it will require us to collaborate and develop relationships with people outside our usual networks. We hope this conference provides a space for this to happen.

Without further ado, I’d like to turn it over to Angela Pakes Ahlman our gracious co-host with The UW Office of Sustainability. Angela also joined the Sustain Dane Board of Directors this year. We are incredibly fortunate and grateful to have her passion and brain helping guide our organization. Many of you have had the pleasure of working with her on a variety of projects, and I’m sure you are struck by Angela’s ability to have both the big picture and attention to detail in the same breath. 

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