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How did Sustainable Seattle get started?

In the early 1990's six people got together to take action at the local level in response to the United Nation's convening of the first Earth Summit (Rio Convention on the Environment and Sustainable Development) inspired by the Brundtland Commission.  This group of six quickly became a dozen, and they decided to create the world's first regional sustainability indicators developed through a grass roots activism process known as participatory action research. They felt that if we measured our progress towards sustainability, we would take better actions in policy formation. 

How does Sustainable Seattle fit in the bigger picture of non-profits working on environmental, social and economic issues in the area?

Our goals are social justice, collaboration and stewardship. We work with other non-profits, businesses, agencies and individuals throughout the region with the aim of getting the sometimes competitive world of non-profits to be more collaborative and partner based. 

What is an indicator?

Indicators are measures or metrics. They measure progress. The idea of "you can't manage what you don't measure" fits for sustainability as well as business. Indicators tell you where you are going because they are used to measure progress towards goals such as clean air, clean water, and local food systems (see B-Sustainable.org for our 4th set of regional sustainability indicators and the goals they measure).

There are a lot of different programs, is there a unifying vision for all of them?

Our programs are based on our regional indicator work and are designed to help us reach our goals. For example, our Sustainability Training and Resources program provides trainings and resources so people, businesses and individuals have the knowledge and capacity to work towards sustainability as defined by our indicators.

So what exactly does Sustainable Seattle do then?

Sustainable Seattle is a resource and catalyst for positive change. At our core, we work with the community to provide the indicators that measure our progress towards sustainability. As a resource, we provide the tools, trainings and processes for people, businesses and government agencies so they can better effect a sustainable future. As a catalyst, we are the change in our programs such as SPARC and community development projects. We are a combination of  leaders, innovators, community organizers and optimistic dreamers with a vision for a new, more socially just and sustainable world.

What can Sustainable Seattle do for me?

We offer tools and resources so you can take positive action. Check out our community development program for a "how to" manual on developing indicators.  Whether you represent a business, agency or yourself, use our programs to gain knowledge to reach sustainability.  You can also take advantage of opportunities for volunteering and learning about sustainability in action.

How do I get involved with Sustainable Seattle?

The best way to get involved is to join our events or volunteer. Also, know your representatives and city government.  Get involved in your children's education and love the time you have with those you care about.

How does the organization cover its operating costs?

The organization is forging a new path of multiple revenue streams that include: grants, angel funders, pay for service fees, sponsorships and donations.  We are focused on diversifying our income so as not to lose sight of our vision if we became beholden to one particular income source.


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