Earth Institute Serves as Sustainability Rally Point
Nov 09, 2012 11:32AM
By Tom Masloski
The best way to predict the future is to help create it. Since 1993, the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) has been leading the curious and the motivated to take responsibility for the Earth. Through discussion courses and their annual EcoChallenge, communities are helped to engage in meaningful conversations that leads to "Aha!" moments about the way people live, work, create and consume. The result is a life that is simpler, richer and better for people and for the planet.
Discussion courses are offered in private workplaces; community and neighborhood centers; nature and science centers; through nonprofits to boost community involvement; and as program offerings to members and stakeholders as part of city and municipality level sustainability initiatives. Another avenue is via individuals or groups not associated with any organization. Other venues where NWEI courses have been held include libraries and faith centers, as part of seasonal program offerings.
NWEI discussion courses have proved an excellent tool for building community, because they generate positive rapport among coworkers or community stakeholders; serve as an outreach tool for organizations or initiatives seeking to build support around local issues; have been used as an effective membership program component and community engagement tool; and provide an opportunity for enrichment and community education at no cost to the organization offering the programs.
Because the courses allow for a powerful sense of connection to develop within the group, organizations and municipalities have promoted them within their communities to both build awareness and to foster a spirit of community. Many of these small groups have continued to meet after the course, while some have taken on specific sustainability projects. Others have gone on to volunteer with the promoting organization. In addition to very personal experiences that emerge from the courses, many organizations have commented on the role that motivated participants continue to play in their organizations.
The DFW group is looking for people to participate. Each group will comprise four to 10 people and meet once a week for four to seven weeks. The format of these groups is like a book club—everyone reads the week's chapter, requiring about one hour of advance reading, and comes prepared to discuss it. Group members take turns facilitating the discussion using questions provided in the reading materials.
Prospective participants should first read the course descriptions online at nwei.org/discussion_courses. Then, let the local facilitator know which courses they are interested in. There has already been interest expressed in A World Of Health, Hungry For Change, Discovering A Sense Of Place and Menu for the Future. Once the specific study course has been agreed upon, books are ordered from NWEI. Most course books cost $25, and is the only cost of taking a course.