Eds Note: These 50-word definitions of sustainability ran in today’s DJC. Agree or disagree, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
For Seattle to become sustainable, it will have to take advantage of the environment we inherited. Preserving open space and protecting the Sound are paramount to a livable and lasting city. The new waterfront will be our next big test. Finding a way to blend the needs of the people with the needs of environment, that’s what will make Seattle sustainable. It’s not a choice between a vibrant urban experience or nature — it’s having both!
Charles Anderson, Charles Anderson Landscape Architects
Sustainability means creating healthy built environments as a means to supporting the larger ecosystems that provide clean water, air and soil for all of us. A collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to designing, building and maintaining buildings is critical to the overall health of the environment.
Yancy Wright, Sellen Construction
We achieve sustainability by fostering long-term cultural, economic, environmental and social health and vitality — by putting all those things together for our future and remembering it is a continuing endeavor, not an end point. That means involving all of our communities in the work, and ensuring that everyone contributes, and everyone benefits.
Richard Conlin, Seattle City Council President
Sustainability requires a vision of where we want to go, and an adaptive strategy to get there in a way that is just for all people and the planet. Seattle needs strong public and private leadership to articulate the vision and inspire all of us to walk in that direction.
Joel Sisolak, Cascadia Region Green Building Council
Seattle must be seen as part of the bioregion and global biosphere. The path to urban sustainability lies in achieving ecological balance integrated with social, economic and environmental regeneration. We will need to retool the urban infrastructure to significantly reduce waste and over-consumption, become less auto-dependent and more walkable.
Peter Steinbrueck, Steinbrueck Urban Strategies
Seattle should broaden the sustainability focus from LEED to SEED: Social Economic and Environmental Design. Environmental responsibility is not a stand-alone issue. Economic equity and social justice are equally essential to creating sustainable communities. If Seattle can achieve this union, we will be the sustainability visionaries we claim to be.
Owen Richards, Owen Richards Architects
Sustainability in Seattle (the cynical version): A term used by politicians and the mostly-white upper class for public appearance or as a business choice, while not actually contributing to sustainability on a broad scale. Real Sustainability: A movement where sustainable actions are an EASY choice and are undertaken by all walks of life, not just the elite.
Rebecca Deehr, Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group
Sustainability is grounded in values of stewardship, sufficiency and justice, and includes economic, environmental and community indicators of well-being. Sustainability goes beyond meeting people’s immediate physical needs to creating a just society with laws and policies that allow their needs, and the needs of all Earth’s inhabitants, to be met.
LeeAnne Beres, Earth Ministry
Sustainability is being good stewards of our environment for ourselves, for our community and for future generations. This means creating spaces that give us shelter and comfort in ways that enhance the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the earth that gives us food instead of degrading them.
Christopher Imbeau, Rafn Co.
Sustainability must include our social structures. As the health of our salmon requires sound water policy, the health of our community requires sound social policy: housing appropriate to the needs of the whole community, access to living-wage jobs, and a region-wide transportation plan that provides real options to the automobile.
Richard Bloom, Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness
Sustainability means systemic continuity; it is equilibrium, balance. In relation to the environment, sustainability suggests systems capable of continuing (though not remaining static. Change is constant) indefinitely, perpetuating life (including people). The planet will likely persist for some time; sustainability might enable humans to survive with it.
Gabriel Scheer, Re-Vision Labs, Seattle Greendrinks