Living Sustainably: Good business is doing good for the community

By Hanna Schultz, People First Economy
It’s 2019, and with the new year comes inspiration, a renewed sense of purpose, and the added drive to become the best version of yourself you can be.
So, why would your approach to your business be any differently? This last year has seen economic growth and opportunity for many businesses, and it has also uncovered a desire for many businesses to embrace their values in a different, more meaningful way.
In West Michigan, many businesses align their practices with the values that the owners and employees hold dear in everyday life. This is among the reasons that locally owned businesses are statistically more philanthropic, environmentally responsible, and intentional toward community engagement. Many of these values have been more or less “unspoken” for many years, even generations, as the businesses themselves have grown or gone through seasons of change.
The Good For Michigan program wants to help businesses institutionalize and benchmark their impact, while providing real-time data that tracks all of the positive effects that the business has on the environment, their employees, and the community as a whole.

Good For Michigan offers resources for businesses that want to learn and do more for their communities. These opportunities include educational workshops. Details for upcoming events can be found at goodfor.org/events.
The crux of the program is the Quick Impact Assessment, which is a tool that any business can use to get a snapshot that measures and quantifies the positive impact it is making in its local community. The assessment (or the QIA, as it’s fondly called) is free for any business to take, and the information gathered is confidential.
The QIA is a 60-minute assessment that measures dozens of best practices for employee, community and environmental impact. Business owners can also see how they compare to other businesses nationally.
This assessment is ideal for business owners who are interested in learning about how they can use their business to make a positive social and environmental impact in their community.  Businesses of all sizes and industries are invited to participate.
A diverse range of West Michigan businesses are already participating in Good For Michigan, from engineering firms to a breweries to restaurants, housing development companies, design firms and more.
Visit www.goodfor.org for more information or to take the Quick Impact Assessment for your business.
You can help keep the business community in West Michigan a leader in responsible business practices!

 Hanna Schulze is development manager at People First Economy, the organization that runs the Good For Michigan program. Hanna has worked in economic development for over five years and finds the most value in her work when she can help small business owners grow their business intentionally using sustainable principles.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Economic Development: Businesses and the local consumers are driving engines that generate capital for growth and development. We want to be a location of choice for new business and industry.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution – Thursday, February 21

Please join the Macatawa Creation Care Group on Thursday, February 21 in Graves Hall for a film screening of “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution.”

Doors open at 5:45, and the film starts at 6:00. The film will be followed by a panel of representatives from the City Of Holland, Holland Board of Public Works, and West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership.

View the trailer here: https://happeningthemovie.com/

““I know it’s going to change because when I talk to young people, they are not even questioning that it’s happening, they just understand it.  I feel like it’s just happening.”  Lisa Jackson Vice President Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Apple Inc.”

SYNOPSIS:  Filmmaker James Redford embarks on a colorful personal journey into the dawn of the clean energy era as it creates jobs, turns profits, and makes communities stronger and healthier across the US. Unlikely entrepreneurs in communities from Georgetown, TX to Buffalo, NY reveal pioneering clean energy solutions while James’ discovery of how clean energy works, and what it means at a personal level, becomes the audiences’ discovery too. Reaching well beyond a great story of technology and innovation, “Happening” explores issues of human resilience, social justice, embracing the future, and finding hope for our survival.

Living Sustainably: It’s all about global “weirding”

By Sarah Irvin, Naturalist at DeGraaf Nature Center

Climate change is altering wind patterns, affecting bird migrations and forcing birds, such as this pine siskin, to adapt their behaviors.

Climate is defined as the weather in a particular area over a large time period, which unveils patterns when recorded, allowing us to create models that mimic and make predictions.
Unfortunately, climate trends will become increasingly more challenging to predict as temperatures and precipitation events shift; the phenomenon that we have named “global warming” might more accurately be called “global weirding.”
While it is true that the planet is warming on average, it is the ever-increasing rate of change and values outside of acceptable climate variability that are concerning.

Changes in temperature patterns are altering when flowers bloom, affecting human allergies and insect behaviors.

The U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program conducted an evaluation and concluded the following about what types of changes to expect in the Midwest over the next century:
 Plants: In the early growing season, agricultural yields will be reduced by rising temperatures, excessive soil moisture, and erosion from increased rain. In the late growing season, invasive species and pests currently stressing our plants will worsen from an increased frequency of drought. Water stress on all plants will eventually lead to a lowered species diversity and productivity in our forests.

Climate changes are altering ice cover on Lake Michigan, which can affect evaporation, water temperatures and health of the water ecosystem.

 Water: Our Great Lakes are not receiving the annual ice cover that we are used to seeing, allowing evaporation to occur year-round (with summer evaporation rates increasing).
Changes in water level and temperature can stress native species, creating opportunities for invasive species and toxic algal blooms.
An Environmental Protection Agency study projects that decline in water quality, along with increased storm impacts, will negatively affect Michigan coastal communities.

 Animals: Migrating birds will fight stronger headwinds on a longer journey south, but return with the push of the wind, allowing them to conserve energy and arrive at their breeding grounds healthier. Biologists’ already are seeing birds adapting their flight paths and have hope that the gradual nature of the change will allow them to continue to adjust.
But they also note that imbalanced adaptations in lifecycles or bloom times could decrease food availability across all animals.
At the same time, ecosystem services such as flood control, water purification, and crop pollination provided by plants and animals will decrease as species diversity declines and habitats degrade.

 People: With warming temperatures, pollen seasons will likely extend, impacting people with seasonal allergies. And within our human infrastructure, we can expect property damage and disrupted transportation from increased heavy rain events, subsequent flooding, and erosion, according to the assessment. Most people will notice these changes slowly, but those already vulnerable will only become more so.
With the vast interconnected nature of our environment, no change can happen in isolation. Change is a natural, unavoidable part of our planet. We just have to do what we can to limit our impact, and thwart the speed and scale of changes occurring now.

 Sarah Irvin holds degrees in geology and terrestrial ecology and is a naturalist at DeGraaf Nature Center. The views expressed here are hers alone and not representative of DeGraaf Nature Center.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science – February 11

Related imageThe United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed Monday, February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. According to a UN study from 14 countries, the probability for female students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science is 18 percent, while the male equivalent is 37 percent. This day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

#WomenInScience

Read about some of our fantastic champions from Hope College!

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

 

Living Sustainably: Film examines troubling issue of poverty

By Cameron Geddes, Hope College Markets & Morality
Image result for hope college markets and moralityThe great specter of the modern age is shapeless, manifesting in a menagerie of forms: Fathers unable to keep a roof over the heads of their sons. Mothers having only empty pantries to offer their daughters. Neighbors squabbling over property that rises just above worthless.
Poverty is the English word for the ageless struggle that has left great minds troubled. Institutions such as Hope College have deployed organizations seeking to understand and explain the nature of it.

And on Feb. 4, Hope College student group Markets & Morality will be featuring a masterpiece film asking the question of how to eliminate poverty. The film is aptly titled “The Pursuit.”
Arthur Brooks was once a professional man of music. He chose to chase after a question that societies so often answer incorrectly, as his film puts it: “How can we lift up the world, starting with those at the margins of society?” This set him on the path to joining the prestigious non-partisan think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Since 1943 the organization has solicited politicians and academics alike “dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world.”
Brooks holds several degrees, including a Ph.D and a M. Phil. in policy analysis, which he received from the Pardee RAND Graduate school. His work as a professor, consultant, doctoral fellow, and New York Times opinion writer have all tied into his position as president at American Enterprise Institute, where he is set to be succeeded by Robert Doar in July.
“The Pursuit” follows Brooks as he travels the world, looking to examine and demonstrate just how those most in need of economic assistance can be helped. This takes him from Mumbai to Kentucky, from Barcelona to New York City, and even to a Himalayan Buddhist monastery.
“Markets & Morality as a whole has been working very hard to bring light to the issues of poverty around the world and how we as a society can effectively bring relief,” said Camryn Zeller, a sophomore member of the group.
“(Brook’s film) highlights this same goal and intention for the majority of poverty alleviation efforts, and (it) challenges his viewers and himself to find what actually works. He identifies poverty as more than a lack of material possessions, but the lack of opportunity to have and pursue dreams.”
The showing is set for Monday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m., with free admission at the Knickerbocker Theatre.
Hope economics Professor Stephen Smith will give an introduction to the fil m, with a reflection at the end by Hope Chaplain of discipleship the Rev. Jennifer Ryden.

“The Pursuit” – a film and discussion about eliminating poverty
When: 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4
Where: The Knickerbocker Theater, 86 East 8th St., Holland,
Cost: Free

 Cameron Geddes is a Hope College sophomore majoring in economics and international studies as well as a second-year member of Markets & Morality and a staff writer for student-newspaper The Anchor.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Session will tell about saving our lakes from runoff

By Kyle Hart and Matt Belanger, West Michigan Environmental Action Council
The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of all available freshwater on the surface of the Earth, and stormwater pollution is the number one threat to the quality of that water.
In February, the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series will start off the year with a presentation from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) regarding stormwater issues created in urban communities.

The summer blooms in the rain garden at Hope Church in Holland show protecting the Big Lake can be beautiful as well as sustainable. Photos courtesy Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snow falls on surfaces such as buildings, sidewalks, and roads and does not soak into the ground. It “runs off” these surfaces into storm drains and waterways. It can quickly carry sediment, litter, and chemicals into bodies of water, and its impact is directly felt by lakeshore communities such as Holland.
Runoff can be managed using green solutions that treat stormwater at the source and prevent it from degrading our water quality. Those solutions might include using a rain barrel, building a rain garden, or increasing the amount of native plants and trees on your property.
Are you interested in helping protect our water? The program “Rainy Days – Causes, Problems and Solutions” will explain how to live a greener lifestyle to reduce flooding, limit property damage, save money using these sustainable stormwater strategies, and impact climate change. The program will be 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave. in Holland.

A rain garden, such as this one at West Ottawa’s Great Lakes Elementary, gives rain and snow runoff a place to sink into the ground, keeping it from washing pollutants into waterways and lakes. Photos courtesy Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

As cities expand, the threat of stormwater runoff becomes greater each day, requiring community action to protect our freshwater resources.
Come join WMEAC and the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council at the next Living Sustainably program for an engaging workshop highlighting best practices that prevent stormwater from running off, collecting harmful pollution, and flooding our community.
This discussion will help build a sustainable future for Holland and connect you with local organizations that can provide additional resources and information.
Community members are encouraged to bring questions and concerns, or to share their experiences with managing stormwater on their property.
People attending the workshop also will have a chance to win a free 55-gallon rain barrel that can be used to store rainwater, reduce flooding, and help save money on the water bill.
Visit the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Facebook page for
more information. We look forward to having you join us to support our mission of empowering you to live more sustainably!

Also visit:

www.the-macc.org/watershed/watershedproject/

www.the-macc.org/watershed/stormwater/

www.wmeac.org/water/stormwater/

for more resources and information about managing stormwater on your property and about how to use sustainable solutions to protect the quality of our waters.

Rainy Days – Causes, Problems and Solutions
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 13
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland
Cost: Free

 Kyle Hart is education coordinator of Teach for the Watershed at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. Matt Belanger is the Crane Foundation endowed water fellow at WMEAC.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: MAX is there for your winter travel

By Shelby Pedersen, Macatawa Area Express

MAX buses provide a safe alternative to driving yourself in snowy weather.

Even in the snowy, winter months of West Michigan, the Max Transit system seeks to keep its service accessible to all passengers on 11 fixed bus routes, along with demand-response service, throughout the greater Holland/Zeeland area.
When there is inclement weather, we tell our drivers the same thing you tell a new driver: Drive safe and don’t be afraid to take your time. We want to make sure that passengers, bus drivers and neighboring vehicles are all safe.
And for passengers we suggest: Have patience and bundle up while waiting at the stops. If a stop is in a snow bank, do not stand on the snow bank or the road; to reduce risk of injury, wait at the next clear driveway.
Image result for max transit and holland, mi and snow“During this time of year, there are more dark hours. Being this dark can make it more difficult to see passengers at a bus stop,” said Dan Bench, a MAX bus operator. “We recommend either wearing reflective clothing or using anything to help flag the driver down and let them know you’re there. The light from a cell phone, a flash light – just something to help yourself be seen.”
The MAX office at 171 Lincoln Ave. Suite 20 in Holland has keychain flash lights to offer to passengers during this time.
Sometimes if the roads become too cluttered with snow and slush, we may switch to what we call “Snow Routes.” Our road supervisors assess each route throughout the day to see if the roads are clear or congested. If we believe a bus could get stuck or would not be able to turn around in part of the route, we
will change that route to its snow route.
You can review snow routes in the master bus schedule, located on MAX buses, at the MAX office, and in some local businesses, or online at www.catchamax.org. Riders can also sign up for text alerts online or by texting “maxtransit” to 353535, to receive updates to see when a route is going into snow route.
Ridership at transit agencies can be affected by many factors, although the weather doesn’t tend to have a big impact. According to humantransit.org, economic growth can impact ridership as well as gas prices as people have more funds for cars and driving. With the economy growing and oil prices declining, many transit agencies saw a decrease in ridership starting back in 2016. MAX saw a decrease in fixed route ridership from 28,203 passengers in December 2016 to 24,268 passengers in December 2017. In early 2018, ridership started slow, but increased even through the winter months.
Bus in SnowWhether it be rain, sleet or snow, you can be certain the MAX will take you there!
 Shelby Pedersen grew up in Holland. She and her sister would ride the MAX bus all over Holland. Two years ago, Shelby joined MAX Transit as an information specialist. She is now marketing and customer service managers assistant.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: New Park Passport encourages nature exploration with prizes

By Dan Callam ’09, Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway
Has your family been on an adventure recently?
There’s no need to wait until spring break or for a road trip to a warm, far-off destination. Your local nature centers are encouraging families to explore spaces around them in 2019 by visiting nearby parks with their new Park Passport as their guide.
We bet even the most enthusiastic park explorers haven’t been to all of our community’s parks. We had a hard time narrowing the list down for the passport! Parks are one of the things that make our community a great place to live and are a benefit to people of all ages and abilities. Plus, you can visit most of them any month of the year!
You can find a copy of the Park Passport at your nearest nature center or library to begin your journey. Highlighted inside the passport are 14 local parks in the greater Holland/Zeeland area that are worth a visit. Each page has a list of attractions and amenities, as well as a Challenge Question. Be on the lookout for signs at each stop that provide the answer to the Challenge Question.
Once your family has visited at least 10 of the parks and successfully answered the question, return with your completed passport to the Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, or Hemlock Crossing Nature Center during regular business hours to claim a prize.

Ambitious families may be able to visit all of these sites over a long weekend, but you have until the end of 2019 to get all your visits completed.

 Dan Callam is Greenway manager for the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway.

Using the new Park Passport program?
When does the Park Passport program start?
Passports will be available Feb. 1 through the end of 2019.
Where can I get a passport?
Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, Hemlock Crossing Nature Center, Herrick District Library.
How does it work?
Visit at least 10 parks in the guide and fill out the pages in the passport while you’re there. Return your completed passport to any participating nature center for a prize.
When should we visit the parks?
Hours for each location are listed in the passport. Most sites are open year-round, and winter can be a great time to visit!
What should we bring?
Bring your passport, clothes and footwear that can handle a little dirt and water, and as many family members you can find! A water bottle and snack are handy for longer walks, or you can bring a picnic lunch to most locations. If you have binoculars or a magnifying glass, they can help you explore things that are far away or hiding down on the ground.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: “Sustainable literacy” is a good goal for 2019

By Michelle Gibbs, Office of Sustainability

Sustainability comes from the intersection of a balanced approach to a healthy environment, vibrant economy and equitable society.

With the recent turning of the new year and a new school semester starting this week, it is a great time to set a personal goal of “sustainable literacy.”
But what does this mean?  The United Nations shares that “sustainability literacy is the knowledge, skills and mindsets that allow individuals to become deeply committed to building a sustainable future and assisting in making informed and effective decisions to this end.”
Sustainability has been described in a number of ways, but the most common definition comes from the United Nations Brundtland Report (1987): “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Another common description comes from an ancient philosophy, The Great Law of the Iroquois, which calls for thinking about the “seventh generation” – a timeframe of approximately 140 years.

With both of these descriptions, thinking about how our choices today will impact the environment and future generations, especially far into the future, is a critical piece of creating a sustainable world.
So how do we do this?  We can implement the “triple bottom line” approach and think not only about the traditional bottom line (or the dollars) impact, but also bring to light the environmental and social impacts.  The triple bottom line encompasses economics, social equity, and the environment, now and into the future.

Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as about their community and how they are a part of both of these systems – and start gaining sustainable literacy.

Sustainability is an important concept for everyone to apply and is really “K to gray learning.”
Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as their community and how they are a part of both of these systems.  As we get older, we can learn about ways our daily choices have an impact on others and the planet, and we can make more thoughtful choices.

 

“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect,” said the great naturalist Aldo Leopold.

Kids and adults can plug into sustainable literacy in Holland in many ways, including:
 Get outside and take classes at one of our amazing local parks or nature centers.
 Kiddos can participate in summer camps offered by Hope College’s ExploreHope Program.
 Participate in local, state, and national government decisions.
 Head to Herrick District Library or one of our great local bookstores to find reading materials.
 Learn more about Holland’s Sustainability Framework at
www.cityofholland.com/sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs.

 Attend the monthly “Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore” events. Save the date for the following spring events:

o Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick District Library — Environment (stormwater,
climate change, and resilient communities)
o March 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Quality of Life (affordable housing in Ottawa
County)
o April 23, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Economics (sustainable businesses in the
greater Holland area)
o May 14, 6 p.m. at Holland Energy Park — Transportation (green commuting in
Holland including a mini green vehicle car show and bike ride)

The bottom line of sustainable literacy is, then: Get to know the natural world and your personal impacts on it, get involved in your community, and together we will create a better world.

 Michelle Gibbs is the director for the Office of Sustainability at Hope College and the director for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a partnership between Hope, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.