Green Beat: October 2008

By Pax Rasmussen

Green news you can use: A new section in CATALYST.
by Pax Rasmussen

Talking about change
The Utah Society for Environmental Education’s Community Discussion Courses offer a creative alternative to just hanging out

Tired of talking about the latest Dan Brown novel with your book group? Luckily, the Utah Society for Environ_men__tal Education offers seven options for community-based discussion courses that can really make a difference in your life, and for the planet.
Here’s how it works: get together a group of your friends, colleagues, neighbors or co-workers and give the USEE a call. Nancy Carruthers, USEE’s Education and Outreach Coordinator will meet with your group and bring all the materials. Then, you meet again as often as you’d like to discuss each section of the course (10-20 pages of mater_ial per section). Nancy will attend your meetings as often or as seldom as you’d like, to help facilitate the discussion process.
Originally developed by the North_west Earth Institute in 1993, over 95,000 people nationwide have participated in these courses. As a partner with the Institute, USEE helps small groups in homes, workplaces, churches and community centers explore important environmental and sustainability issues in a relaxed and creative way. According to USEE, the discussion groups "help participants examine their opinions and ideas and create discussion, not consensus, around personal values and personal habits in relation to the Earth."
If you’re more interested in getting outside your usual social circle, USEE frequently conducts these discussions themselves (usually held at their offices), and are open to the public. The course Menu for the Future starts in October.

Discussion courses offered:

  • Menu for the Future, the newest course launched in April, 2008, is a six-session course exploring the connection between food and sustainability.
  • Global Warming: Changing CO2urse is a four-session course exploring the history and science of global warming, personal values and habits as they relate to climate change, and personal actions to curb the effects of global warming.
  • Choices for Sustainable Living is a seven-session course exploring the meaning of sustainable living and the ties between lifestyle choices and their impact on the earth.
  • Voluntary Simplicity is a seven-session course addressing the distractions of modern society that keep us from caring for ourselves, our relationships and our environment.
  • Healthy Children-Healthy Planet is a seven-session course addressing how the pervasive effects of advertising, media and our consumer culture can influence a child’s view of the world.
  • Discovering a Sense of Place is a seven-session course focusing on knowing and protecting our place.
  • Exploring Deep Ecology is an eight-session course addressing core values and how they affect the way we view and treat the Earth.

    PDFs with detailed information about these courses along with a list of the materials included is available at, under Programs-Community Discussions.

The cost for each course, including materials, is $20 per person. If you’d like to get a group involved in one of these courses, or to join a course, contact Nancy Carruthers as USEE: 328-1549,

House leaves no child inside
The House of Representatives last month passed legislation that would provide new funding for environmental education, including a national grant program for teacher development and student programs. These new resources will ensure that teachers are trained to provide high-quality, engaging lessons and will expand environmental learning opportunities across the country. The No Child Left Inside Act of 2008 passed with strong bipartisan support. The No Child Left Inside Act creates grants for environmental education, to be given to states after approval of K-12 environmental literacy plans by the US Department of Education. It also allocates funds for teacher professional development and student programs.

City & County now work together for sustainability
On September 18, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon announced that their governments will work together on issues of sustainability. Both mayors have been pursuing ambitious sustainability goals. This agreement amps up the commitment several notches.
The goals of their agreement are to develop new sustainability programs and improve those that are already in place. They are looking at air quality initiatives, renewable energy programs, and advanced recycling programs.
The City and County are already partnering on a number of projects. Together they received a Solar America grant to investigate ways to promote investment in solar power in our region; they are working with two energy performance contractors to find energy reduction opportunities in their buildings; and, along with the Department of Environmental Quality, will be promoting air quality initiatives such as the Idle Free Utah campaign (see article this issue). Additionally, the City and County collaborate on Open Space land projects and projects to improve the Jordan River Parkway.

Sustainability Manager Training
This workshop, presented by the EarthRight Business Institute, focuses on helping Sustainability Managers develop value-added Environmental Sustainability Programs. Hosted at Salt Lake City’s Hotel Monaco, the Institute faculiy will guide participants through the key elements of a successful sustainability program. The workshop includes a manager’s guidebook and hands-on exercises provide the understanding and tools needed to lead an organization’s green efforts and produce results. The workshop will cover the overall understanding of environmental sustainability, current and future green market conditions, the business case for environmental sustainability, how to conduct a carbon and ecological footprint analysis, steps to developing a sustainability program and more. $485. or 750-4380 for details. The workshop will be held October 15, 7:30a-5p.

This article was originally published on September 30, 2008.