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Sustainable Solutions: Dovetail Learning - April 2015 - by Sam Euston


Sustainable Solutions: Dovetail Learning
April 2015 - by Sam Euston

by Sam Euston

Dovetail Learning -  Foundation for Sustainable Learning & Solutions

By Sam Euston

A question that time and time again lingers on my mind is: where does the foundation for Sustainable Solutions begin?

Initial consideration led me to grass roots organizing, but even that needs a fundamental foundation for it to survive and generate effective solutions.

The foundation (for Sustainable Solutions) needs to be able to:

  • nurture and integrate communication
  • foster fundamental curiosity and understanding
  • cultivate knowledgeable decision-making
  • encourage collaborative solutions and their implementation
  • develop resilience (personally and on a collective level)
  • support the ability to initiate and complete tasks to grow and create sustainable solutions.

So where does one begin. . . by providing Sustainable Life Tools that develop and enrich our youth, along with encouraging the utilization of these tools in our educational system. This I propose, is organizing at our grass roots level, for both sustainable solutions and our future.

I recently learned about a nine year old organization, located in Sebastopol, CA that teaches many of the important elements that encourage the sustainable foundation that I outlined above.

I visited with Mark Collin, the founder of Dovetail Learning, and Charles Fisher, its managing director. What I found in their toolbox project curriculum, are the foundational tools toward building not only sustainable solutions, but tools for building a more meaningful and positive future.

If we don't have effective tools to communicate, navigate through life challenges with resilience, self-confidence to follow through on our ideas (especially in times of discourse), the mole hills ahead of us can seem like impassible mountains. Having the “proverbial” Toolbox and the knowledge of what tools we have and how to use them is vital.

I think it was Maslow who once said “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”  So when you have a “Toolbox” and have the knowledge and knowhow regarding the tools inside it, you can select the most appropriate tool to build a cohesive, collaborative approach toward your Sustainable Future.

DoveTail Learning holds as its mission: “Building children’s resilience, self-mastery and empathy for others”.  Their program The ToolBox Project gives children, teachers, parents, and their communities a common language and the Tools necessary to form a cohesive, collaborative, non-violent, and caring community, which leads to hope for a meaningful and positive future.” This is a Sustainable Solution !

Let’s go through the 12 tools, and then we’ll touch upon the skills that evolve as a result of their utilization.

The ToolBox Project  12 Tools

Tools for Learning · Tools for Life

  • Breathing Tool  -  I calm myself and check it.
  • Quiet/Safe Place Tool  -  I remember my quiet/safe place.
  • Listening Tool  -  I listen with my ears, eyes, and heart.
  • Empathy Tool  -  I care for others, I care for myself.
  • Personal Space Tool  -  I have a right to my space and so do you.
  • Using Our Words Tool  -  I use the “right" words in the "right" way.
  • Garbage Can Tool  -  I let the little things go.
  • Taking Time Tool  -  I take time-in and time-away.
  • Please & Thank You Tool  -  I treat others with kindness and appreciation.
  • Apology & Forgiveness Tool  -  I admit my mistakes and work to forgive yours.
  • Patience Tool  -  I am strong enough to wait.
  • Courage tool  -  I have the courage to do the "right" thing.

© Mark A. Colin

When adopted, the proven results and skills learned (even in impoverished and marginalized neighborhoods such as Richmond, CA) speak for themselves. 

Children have learned how to:

  • Be proactive rather than reactive (maybe ToolBox should be a requirement for all elected offices).
  • Understand & organize their internal experiences (their self-knowing).
  • Belong and contribute their uniqueness.
  • Care for themselves and others.
  • Find their voice.
  • Be forgiving when it is time.
  • Apologize.
  • Value patience.
  • Use time wisely.
  • Let the little things go.
  • Achieve balance in 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Make sense of the world around them.
  • Be courageous in a world without Toolbox

They are offering (in August) a one day training for people interested in learning Toolbox.  There’s much more available  on their website, along with inspiring student testimonials. This is the strong foundation from which Sustainable Solutions can be built.

I wanted to mention several upcoming Sustainability events.

Sonoma County Adaptation Forum  -  Resilience in a Changing Climate
Learn how to ensure that Sonoma County remains vibrant and resilient in a changing climate.
-        Public Forum – April 8, 2015
-        Location: Sonoma State University, Student Center Ballrooms
-        Time: 8:30am – 5:00 pm
-        URL:

Sustainable Enterprise Conference  -  Identify successful strategies for economic resilience in a global economy.
The learning and networking conference is dedicated to helping North Bay businesses, academic, government and non-profit organizations transition to economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
-        Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015
-        Location: Sonoma Mountain Village
-        Time: 7:00 am Breakfast  - 8:00 am Program Begins - 5:00 pm Reception
-        URL:

iHub Enterprise Accelerator - Providing learning opportunities for organizations aspiring to embody sustainable principles.  Also available: small, hands-on workshops with investors, consultants and organizational advisers.
-        Date: Friday, May 1, 2015
-        Location: Sonoma Mountain Village
-        Time: 8:30 am Coffee & Networking  9:00 am Program Begins
-        URL: 

Future Makers  Sustainable North Bay Youth Summit - For young and innovative people who want to create a better future.  The youth summit will offer information about sustainable organizations in the North Bay and featured representatives will be on site to answer questions.
-        Date: Saturday, May 2, 2015
-        Location: Sonoma Mountain Village
-        Time: 9:30 am Doors Open
-        URL:

Chow Down - Community Commons Celebration
We'll bring exhibits and the best of our previous three days to Sally Tomatoes for a social event designed to showcase the North Bay as the Epicenter of Sustainability.
-        Date: Sunday, May 3, 2015
-        Location: Sonoma Mountain Village
-        Time: Check website below
-        URL: