Is Sustainability a Realistic Goal?

Posted by Trish Riley, May 13, 2009

Alachua County Manager Randall Reid wrote an article for the magazine of the International County-City Management Association about the importance of creating more sustainable communities, of which he is a great proponent. In the article Reid says that developing sustainable communities is a moral and ethical imperative, and he suggests that community leaders and citizens think of it as a sort of Golden Rule. He highlights similar philosophies from several world religions. Here’s the article: SustainComm.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Ron Cunningham of the Gainesville Sun detailed the article, ending with his disbelief that industry will take the high road and move toward sustainability:

“Guys, think of sustainability as that virtuous feeling you’ll get when you tell Big Oil, Big Business and Big Developers to keep their campaign contributions because you intend to do the right thing for future generations.

Hey, did I just see a flying pig?”

But here’s the thing: Reid is right. Sustainability depends on all of us – citizens, governments and businesses – to do the right thing. The writing is on the wall, and if we don’t change our business models to protect the earth and our health, we won’t be leaving either for future generations.

Sustainability replaces the conventional business model that is strictly profit driven with a new one that rests on three standards: A sustainable business is good for the people, the planet and profit. If one of these legs is withdrawn, the whole thing falls down.

While it seems hard to believe that big oil and big agriculture will peacefully give up their profits in the name of saving the world – and we are already seeing great resistance to renewable energy and local food production as high-paid lobbyists influence our legislatures – the fact is that already many businesses and governments are adopting friendlier policies that put health and safety before profits.

We may have to drag the rest of them kicking and screaming into the future, but forward is the only way to go, and today we have more momentum for this movement than we’ve ever seen. As we continue moving toward a healthier future, more citizens and business owners and government leaders will understand the importance.

And maybe then, pigs will fly… can you say, “Swine Flew?”