Living Sustainably: Water, water everywhere? Not so much, anymore

By Paul Sachs, Ottawa County

One of Ottawa County’s most alluring features is its water. For as far as the eye can see, Lake Michigan’s crystal-blue waters lap up against our expansive sandy shoreline. Twenty-four miles of coastline provide the perfect backdrop for walking, swimming, kayaking, boating, and fishing.

But what we can’t see, and something that is threatening our quality of life, is a serious groundwater issue: The deep underground aquifer system that supplies water to Ottawa County wells is declining.

Water levels in Ottawa County’s deep aquifer, supplying wells for one in four county homes, have declined 40 feet in the last 40 years and are projected to drop another 20 feet by the year 2035.

Residents get their drinking water in one of two ways – from municipal pipeline systems that pump water from Lake Michigan, or from private wells that pump water from the underground aquifers. Of the more than 104,000 households in Ottawa County, one in every four homes uses groundwater as their primary source of drinking water.
The groundwater issue in Ottawa County involves the deep bedrock aquifer, located more than 100 feet underground. A seven-year scientific study determined that a thick layer of clay is preventing water from re-entering the deep bedrock aquifer. As groundwater is continually pumped out of the aquifer, the system is not being “recharged” fast enough to keep up with demand.
Furthermore, as water levels continue to decline, water quality is worsening due to naturally occurring brines (salt) found in the aquifer. Elevated levels of sodium chloride can corrode pipes, damage crops, and potentially exacerbate health concerns.

Water levels in the deep aquifer have declined 40 feet in the last 40 years and are projected to drop another 20 feet by the year 2035. While we tend to think that water is abundant in our lakeshore county, we need to start thinking differently about our water usage in order to sustain this natural resource.
Ottawa County is implementing a comprehensive groundwater management plan to address this issue head-on, but it will take a village to stop this slow leak. Do your part to help sustain our excellent quality of life by making these four water conservation tips a part of your routine:
1. Practice smart lawn care: Ask yourself, how important is having a green lawn? Homeowners use over 2 billion gallons of water annually in Ottawa County watering their lawns.
2. Load up washers: Start your dishwasher or washing machine when full. Older units use up to 16 gallons of water per cycle.
3. Turn off the faucet: Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Faucets use more than two gallons of water per minute.
4. Low-flow devices: If you don’t already have low-flow toilets or faucets, install them to save water, and money.
For more information about Ottawa County’s groundwater issues, visit
www.miottawa.org/groundwater. Also, this past week, March 10-16, was also National Groundwater Awareness Week. Learn more here: www.ngwa.org.

 Paul Sachs is director of planning and performance improvement for Ottawa County, where he is responsible for implementing innovative, pragmatic solutions that positively impact quality of life and economic growth in the county.

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.

Living Sustainably: On-going study looks at improving Lake Mac health

By Dan Callam ’09, ODC Network
How can you tell if a lake is healthy? It’s not as simple as what’s in its water and on its shores.
Lake Macatawa’s watershed – the area that drains into it – comprises most of the greater Holland/Zeeland area and is made up of neighborhoods, shopping and business districts, and farmland.
Over the past five years, local partners have worked to improve conditions in Lake Macatawa and its watershed by reducing sources of phosphorus through the Project Clarity initiative.
There are several important indicators we use to tell not just how healthy Lake Mac is, but the health of its watershed as well. Phosphorus is a nutrient that can lead to algae blooms and is attached or accompanied by sediment that makes the lake appear murky. These conditions are detrimental to aquatic life and limit the number and abundance of species that can be found in the lake.
Researchers from the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University continue to monitor conditions around Lake Macatawa. They take readings at five locations around the lake several times a year, with additional support from Hope College and a number of volunteers.
Along with phosphorus, the team measures algae concentrations and the clarity of the water. The average annual concentration of phosphorus in the lake was 72 parts per billion in 2018, the lowest annual reading since state and federal monitoring began in the 1970’s. While these levels are still not low enough for the lake to be considered healthy, the trend is encouraging.

We need to bear in mind that there are going to be ongoing stressors that impact the health of the watershed. Some of these are beyond our community’s immediate control, such as ongoing changes to our climate.
However, there are other factors that we can more easily address, like developing our community wisely and finding ways to encourage water to infiltrate into the ground, rather than pave land and pipe water to the nearest stream.
Macatawa Watershed ProjectProject Clarity and our partners have been able to implement more than a hundred projects since the effort began in 2014. While there are good examples of these types of green infrastructure projects, we need these to become the default way – rather than the exceptions – of building, farming, and doing business.
Findings about the lake are shown in the Lake Macatawa Dashboard Report, which is available at outdoordiscovery.org/project-clarity or at macatawaclarity.org. The full 2018 monitoring report will be
available later this spring.
 Dan Callam is the Greenway manager at the ODC Network. He helps oversee Project Clarity as well as the Macatawa and Kalamazoo River greenway efforts.  Dan graduated from Hope College in 2009.

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.

Living Sustainably: Free trees can help cut energy use

A properly planted tree can help a homeowner save up to 20 percent on energy use. And Holland Board of Public Works residential electric customers can reserve a free tree this spring to strategically plant in their yards to save energy and lower utility bills. Image result for arbor day and right tree right place

From the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program began in 2012, and operates in 37 U.S. states. More than 70 organizations have participated, including utility companies, city governments, state governments, corporations, and nonprofits. This is the first time the program has been offered in Michigan.
The Holland BPW and the City of Holland are partnering to provide 300 trees in four species.
Customers may choose from among red maple, river birch, royal star magnolia, or prairie fire crabapple.
These species thrive in our climate and soil conditions, and will help the urban canopy move from 25 percent to the city’s goal of 36 percent. In addition, trees absorb carbon dioxide, and will help drive Holland’s Community Energy Plan goal of cutting per capita greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.
Developed by the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program educates homeowners about the benefits of strategic tree planting for energy savings using an online mapping tool.

The tool was created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Davey Institute, a division of Davey Tree Expert Co., and uses peer-reviewed scientific research from the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree software to help participants plant trees in the most strategic location in their yards. The tool calculates the estimated
benefits of the selected tree, including cost savings associated with reduced energy bills, cleaner air, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and improved storm water management. When planted properly, a single tree can save a homeowner up to 20 percent on energy costs.
While using the tool, customers will see their property and utility lines and will be able to select a species, position it, and learn if it is in an optimal spot. If the tree is positioned in a safe place and submitted, a confirmation email will be sent to the customer once HBPW staff confirm its placement.
Customers will need to call MissDig within the week before receiving their tree, as it is very important to know where to dig to avoid utility conflicts. Customers will be provided with tree care, maintenance, and placement resources upon registering, and at the time of pick up.
Registration is open from Feb. 11 to mid-April, or until supplies last, at www.arborday.org/HBPW.

For people who have a confirmed order from their online registration, the trees will be distributed at a pickup event on Saturday morning, April 27, at the BPW Service Center, 625 Hastings Ave, Holland, from 8 a.m. to noon. At the pickup, participants should be sure to either print their order confirmation or have it readily available on a phone. We hope to see you there!
 Morgan Kelley is conservation programs specialist at Holland Board of Public Works and leads the residential energy waste reduction programs.

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: Panel to discuss complexity of affordable housing

By Hannah Gingrich, Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore

The Holland area suffers from a significant lack of housing that full-time workers in this area can afford.

“Affordable housing is not a simple subject” might be the understatement of the year.  Regular consumers of local news have undoubtedly noticed this topic repeatedly featured in recent city discussions.

Housing issues affect everyone, though in different ways. Even the casually interested likely have heard friends or coworkers mention how difficult it is to find a place to live or how stressed out they are when faced with an upcoming move, wondering if they will be able to find a situation they can afford.

The next Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore program will address how housing issues affect us and our neighbors. Four local housing experts will talk about what affordable does and could look like in Ottawa County at “Quality of Life: The Affordable Community,” to be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave.
All kinds of people are significantly affected by the lack of available housing at their price point.
Housing Next’s May 2017 Impact Report, the most recent available, points out the large number in our community who fall in the ALICE category – ALICE, or Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.
That threshold is $56,400 for a family of four.

The lack of housing that can be afforded by area workers is a major issue in Holland.

Housing Next is a local initiative seeking to support all income levels needing affordable housing.
Housing Next’s impact report recounts stories of seniors, recent graduates, factory workers, single mothers, and disabled adults struggling to make ends meet.
In one example, Sue and Tom both make $10 an hour working at a factory. They like the area and want to stay, but their monthly income barely meets their expenses. Sometimes it comes down to a choice of what bill gets paid that month – rent or car insurance, day care or food.
In another example, Tamara has a full-time job. As a single mother making minimum wage, she was forced to look for more affordable housing when her work hours became erratic. However, she couldn’t find anything near work and had to rent an apartment half an hour away, despite being concerned about her car’s reliability. She must now spend much of her budget on transportation.
Housing and homelessness aren’t simply issues of poverty. Jobs paying low wages may not have been intended for individuals supporting families, but that situation has become the new reality. How do you manage to live a life of quality when your paycheck barely covers the roof your head?
But building affordable housing doesn’t come cheap.
It might seem like a simple matter of budgeting a building to keep it low-cost. But not only does an affordable housing development require the same real estate purchases, zoning approvals, and building expenses as market-rate rentals, it often comes with additional challenges. Neighbors may contest building sites, and the grants needed to make projects financially feasible lengthen the process, which
ultimately drives up cost.
These kinds of issues will be addressed by the panel of experts at the next Living Sustainably program on March 5. Included in the evening will be a drawing for a $20 Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity ReStore gift card

 Hannah Gingrich is a public services assistant at Herrick District Library, a Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore partner.

“Quality of Life: The Affordable Community”
Who: Ryan Kilpatrick of Housing Next; Laura Driscoll, director of housing services at Good Samaritan; Angela Maxwell from Community Action House, and Chad Frederick from the geography department faculty at Grand Valley State University
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave.
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 5
Admission: Free

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

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: 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.

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.

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: 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.