The grass-roots U.S. sustainability movement of the early 21st century is having a marked impact throughout the country. In communities across the land, a tremendous variety of projects have been successfully carried out, supporting change towards greater sustainability.
The Twin Ports of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI, linked by bridges over the mouth of the St. Louis River where it empties into Lake Superior, are a part of this remarkable change. Through grass-roots efforts and serendipitous events, Sustainable Twin Ports is helping the communities expand their sustainability practices. Here’s the story of how this has evolved.
The co-authors of the book The Natural Step (TNS) for Communities, Torbjorn Lahti and Sarah James came to the upper mid-west several times between 2004 and 2006. An outgrowth of an Ashland workshop they presented was the formation of a study group in Duluth, which led to the establishment of Sustainable Duluth, a non-non-profit loosely organized. List serves with about 200 participants have maintained a flow of information on sustainability issues, and monthly informational sessions were held.
An opportunity arose for Sustainable Duluth to apply for sustainability project funding from the local A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation. The scope of this project became more than a committee of four could continue to press forward; the committee needed more people power. One phone call from a TNS advocate on the Duluth-based committee to another TNS colleague led to the next step.
That colleague was part of the Knight Creative Communities Initiative’s We Mean Green team, a project of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation (DSACF). According to DSACF, “31 citizen Catalysts were selected in the Twin Ports for their commitment to and interest in developing initiatives that build upon the four T’s (technology, tolerance, territory and talent). Based on the work of Dr. Richard Florida, these initiatives would spotlight human creativity as the primary driver of community vitality and build the creative economy.”
The We Mean Green team was a small group of passionate people who had been looking for a “green” project for several months, when they were contacted by the committee member from Sustainable Duluth. Sustainable Duluth had developed a grant proposal for a TNS Early Adopter Project; We Mean Green had the energy to move it forward. From this merger, Sustainable Twin Ports was born (and DSACF became a contributor and participant in the Early Adopter Project).
Led by Sustainable Twin Ports, formal training and consulting services were provided to 13 area business and organization by The Natural Step Canada in 2009. (See Early Adopter project here.)Sustainable Twin Ports is a 501c3 and offers various levels of training and education events for businesses, orgazations, and the Twin Ports community.