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Sustainable Solutions: Next 20-30 years - March 2015 - by Sam Euston


Sustainable Solutions: Next 20-30 Years
March 2015 - by Sam Euston

by Sam Euston

What will Sonoma County look like in the next 20 to 30 years?  “Envision a self-reliant and self-sustaining community. Our local food purveyors, markets, and restaurants utilize Sonoma County agriculture for the majority of their produce and animal products. Our youth have opportunities that provide exciting careers they are proud of; contributing back to Sonoma County in participatory ways that feed their passions, and the byproduct of their efforts help nurture a local sustainable community.  Being able to harmonize with our natural environment”, these are a few of the visions that Kameron Witham (Co-organizer of Future Makers) and local youth leader (with a Bachelors in Micro and Molecular Biology) shared with me; that she has for her home, Sonoma County. 

So what is Future Makers? It is part of this year’s four day 2015 Sustainable Enterprise Conference.

On Saturday, May 2 beginning at 10 am, this youth oriented event, will bring together regional youth leaders in sustainability, with those who are interested in learning more about professional and educational opportunities in sustainability programs throughout the North Bay.

Topics covered will include career building skills, and creating entrepreneurial opportunities. Participants will be able to network with our existing green community, as well as our young leaders involved in sustainability. 

I spoke with one of the Future Makers presenters, Lucas Oshun, (who was born and raised in Sebastopol, CA).  Lucas is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Global Student Embassy.  Their mission is  to empower young leaders to become environmental stewards, social innovators, and community leaders. In collaboration with international peers, students generate and implement powerful community-based solutions to shared ecological concerns.”

Presently their staff of 15 help over 3,000 youth in Northern California, Nicaragua and Ecuador.  Through Global Leadership Education, Project-Based Learning and Cross-Cultural Collaboration, their programs engage students in critical thinking about local and international environmental issues, agricultural education, contribution through collaboration, planning, advocacy, and practice. “Students build life skills that help them turn their ideas for change into action.”

Global Student Embassy (founded and based in Sebastopol, CA), is involved in a major reforestation effort in Ecuador. 

Ecuador’s tropical dry forest (which has some of the most dense, resistant valuable wood in the world) has been significantly depleted due to timber extraction, leveling land for grazing and predominantly for the creation of charcoal for fuel.    

Engaging 300 high school students on a weekly basis, through a species diverse, hybrid quality, high survival rate, restoration project; Lucas and his team have created a holistic broad-based community education program to help restore this habitat.

Locally, GSE’s Ecological Action Education Program reaches more than 2,000 students annually across Sonoma, Marin and Contra Costa Counties. Our local youth leaders creating Sustainable Solutions !

I encourage you to check out the work and contributions Global Student Embassy is making through their website at:

 I’ve really come to appreciate Oren Wool (Executive Director of the Sustainable Enterprise Conference) and the awareness, community and especially the sustainable resource building that Oren envisions, and the conference provides.

I found the SEC theme of this year’s conference very applicable as we allocate the funds and resources needed to restore, mitigate and prepare for “an environmental and climate adaptive future”. 

SEC’s theme:Capital for a Sustainable Future,” a topic which honors the region’s wealth of financial, social and natural capital while placing particular emphasis on opportunities to utilize and build our social capital assets. This is a strategy close to our heart, afterall, as the largest gathering focused on building a local sustainable economy, SEC is the place where old friends and new enterprises meet to grow together”.

And the conference keynote speakers can certainly offer proven experience and wisdom on this theme.

Blair Kellison (former CPA) now CEO of our local Traditional Medicinals®, can offer many valuable tips regarding sustainable capital and business.   Traditional Medicinals® business model (over the last four decades) has been inspiration, commitment to product quality and consumer trust.

 Blair is also Chair of Sonoma County BEST (Building Economic Success Together) it’s our first public-private partnership devoted to business success and job growth in Sonoma County.  And he’s also co-chair of BEST’s Sonoma County FIG (Food Industry Group), an organization comprised of over fifty specialty/organic food companies in Sonoma County.

Marco Vangelisti (UC Berkeley Fulbright scholar in mathematics and economics) has since been instrumental in the formation and development of the Slow Money Northern California chapter. He is sharing his experience doing direct Slow Money investments with communities around the country to help them increase their capacity for local investing. Marco is developing Essential Knowledge for Transition – a curriculum for engaging citizens to understand the money and banking system, the economic system along with the financial system and how we need to transform them.

And, I’m especially looking forward to hearing Kat Taylor’s presentation.  Kat and her husband Tom Steyer have been committed to supporting causes that advocate good money, good food and good energy systems. Kat is also the CEO of Beneficial State Bank, a sustainable community development bank that provides fair and transparent banking products to communities in California, Oregon and Washington. They’re also engaged in promoting sustainable animal agriculture and healthy food initiatives, as well as supporting organizations that are working to prevent climate disaster, and preserving American prosperity.

Also, they are founders of TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, which funds research in science, technology and policy that helps toward the transformation of the world's energy systems for a sustainable future.

The TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy works to transform the world's energy systems by:

  • Identifying key challenges and defining research agendas
  • Carrying out evaluation and analysis
  • Challenging our faculty to form interdisciplinary groups to provide new approaches to problem solving
  • Developing methods for analysis that will be adopted by other practitioners
  • Performing systems level and cross-disciplinary research
  • Facilitating translation to actual applied technology
  • Proposing innovative solutions

A demonstration of walking their sustainability talk.

These three presenters will be speaking on Thursday, April 30, 2015, so if you’re interested in “Capital” and successful Sustainable Solutions, visit their website to register and obtain further information.