It is at the local level – where people live, work, and learn – that the behavioral change driving a more sustainable society and economy ultimately takes place. That work is going on across the United States and around the world where community organizations are harnessing the power of community to make change.
The US Enviromental Protection Agency in New England recognizes the importance of local action. So for the last thirty years, they have recognized individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions on behalf of the region’s environment. The Green Needham Collaborative is honored to be one of the organizations recognized this year with an EPA Environmental Merit Award.
That recognition is rewarding for everyone involved in Green Needham, but it’s a two-fer for me. Co-founding the Green Needham Collaborative was a reflection of a personal interest in sustainability and an extension of my other community work. But the differentiating idea behind Green Needham – working across organizational and sector boundaries (individual, business, government, education) – came directly from my previous professional experience. In turn, Green Needham has increasingly influenced and informed my professional commitment and practice in sustainability.
Many more people working in sustainability-related businesses should be active in the local organizations driving change. Their time and expertise are certainly needed and will accelerate progress. But their businesses would benefit as well because the hard work of making changes in and with the community around you is also an excellent laboratory and reality check for business models built on technology or financial opportunity.
The EPA Environmental Merit Awards showcase the range of what’s being done – what commitment coupled to innovation can accomplish. If you happen to be in Boston, come see for yourself when the EPA hosts the awards ceremony for the 2010 Environmental Merit Award winners on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22nd from 1 pm to 3 pm at Faneuil Hall in Boston.