Last updated: Dec 19th, 2011


Wetlands, showing water in foreground and various water plants around the edge, with shrubs and forest behind that
Intact wild ecosystems are an important part of a sustainable society.

Sustainability is a concept that can sometimes be hard to pin down. One definition I like, which is derived from one of the United Nation's definitions, is:

Sustainability is the ability of the current generation to meet its needs without compromising the needs of future generations.

I think sustainability is crucial to the purpose of life. I could say that working towards sustainability is one of my most important goals in life, but it would be more accurate to say that I accept sustainability as a fundamental value or guiding principle, and interpret all goals of my life within the context of sustainability.

Culture and Sustainability:

In the United States, the current dialogue about sustainability focuses on environmental problems, and technological and political solutions to these problems. While I think these issues are important to study and discuss, I think that there is another facet to sustainability which is too often neglected: culture.

Environmental impacts exist within the context of culture. Resource management is also a central concept in sustainability, and resource management is to a large degree a cultural issue, as different cultures have different philosophies and norms about resource management. My personal belief is that culture is the key to achieving sustainability, and that no approach that considers technology and politics alone without considering culture will ever succeed at achieving or creating a sustainable society.

What would a sustainable culture look like?

A sustainable culture would be...
A SEPTA elevated train in a station, with a building's clocktower in the background
Public transit is an important part of a sustainable society.

These three concepts are very general. I have more specific ideas about how they would play out, and more concrete ideas of what sorts of values, beliefs, and practices would characterize such a culture.

One key aspect of a sustainable culture that I see is a slower pace of life, with lots of empty space. This ties in closely with my beliefs on sustainable resource management. A culture in which every person and business is employed to full capacity is in a sense rigid--unable to adapt to changing circumstances. A sustainable society must thus have extra resources or reserves, which would be manifested in many different ways:

I also have envisioned ways in which a culture could be sustainable with respect to business practices:

How would the culture be maintained?

Sustainability-Related Resources:

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