In terms of the Natural Step, “Any individual or organization can become a sustainability champion. All it takes is passion, commitment, and a systematic approach to change.” All sustainability champions follow these seven basic practices in the operation of their daily lives and/or business activities:
- Get Credible, Stay Credible
- Collaborate, Educate, Network
- Meet Them Where They Are
- Piggyback Existing Initiatives
- Influence the Influencers
- Practice ‘Planful Opportunism’
This internship has been a great opportunity for me to work on these skills for myself, especially #3, but most importantly, it has allowed me to work with a beautiful hearted woman who wants to make a change in lives of every citizen in her community from the homeless, to the incarcerated, from the ones who hold the power and make the decisions, all the way to ones who didn’t know what type of power they have/had because they’ve never allowed themselves to harness their internal power. For me, I get to work and get first hand knowledge in the laws of life and the land from a woman who walks the walk, while talking the talk. With the knowledge that I learned so far, I’ve been able to help Mrs. Rose, a South Bend resident, with her garden; I educated Marcus, a DuComb Center resident, on urban gardening; and, I’ve also talked to lines full of people at the Food Bank of Northern Indiana on what it is and why it is the Unity Gardens does what it does. These conversations have helped me network and meet people whom I’ve never seen before. On a more positive note, I’ve connected with some South Bend residents who now harvest and volunteer at the small Unity Garden which is located at the Food Bank.
One of the main reasons that Unity Gardens has been such a success in South Bend is because Sara is an advocate for change. Sara falls into what the United States Sustainability Primer calls an advocate for change because she “Found an issue that she was most passionate about, she got organized, wrote letters, made phone calls, and started a new business whose potential rewards outweighed the potential risks.” Working at Unity Gardens has been a great opportunity. I love the message, I love the vision, I love working with members in the community, but above all, I love working with an organization that utilizes each of these seven steps on a week-to-week basis. If you ever get the chance to have a conversation with Sara Stewart, you’ll see why she rates 10 out of 10 in being a sustainability champion.
“The question of reaching sustainability is not about if we will have enough energy, enough food, or other tangible resources… The question is: will there be enough leaders in time?” –Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert, Founder of The Natural Step