Community Conversations

September 8, 2012:

“A Conversation for Sustainable Neighborhood and Community Transformation”

A discussion amongst sustainability leaders across the country, to address the challenge of accomplishing the transformations we know are needed in our suburban neighborhoods and urban communities. These include some of the following:

  • adding chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to our lawns;
  • using gasoline-powered lawnmowers that use and waste as much gas as an SUV;
  • contributing our food waste to the 30% of landfill-bound trash instead of returning it to the soil;
  • chemically processing our own wastes and sending the “sludge” to landfills hundreds of miles away instead of recycling it in aerated ponds or breaking it down until it can be used safely as fertilizer;
  • wasting energy, and wasting rooftop space that could be used to produce what we need in a clean way;
  • getting poor quality food from a distance, instead of living off fresh local produce and processing more food locally;
  • driving our own cars everywhere, even just to get a dozen eggs or a jug of milk;

We also know that part of the problem is that we are disconnected from our neighbors, and most of us cannot afford to contribute our time to these tasks without earning a living doing some of these things.

Is there a way to make generate revenue from helping to facilitate these changes?

People in neighborhoods quite widely understand that they need to strengthen their local economies, emergency preparedness, food security, water conservation, clean energy generation, and reduce the use of toxic chemicals, fossil fuels, and waste products.

Those people at the forefront of this recognition are natural community leaders, yet in most cases do not have local vehicles through which to realize their aspirations—the more beautiful worlds that, as Charles Eisenstein puts it, “our hearts know are possible.”

This approximately two-hour discussion addressed these issues, presenced a number of local and national initiatives, and started a process of sharing knowledge, information, and opportunities for collaboration.

Online Participants:

  • Dave Buck, Wealth Information Network (Seattle, WA)
  • Jim Schulman, Community Forklift (Washington, DC)
  • Frank Wennin, Center of Influence Network (Ridgefield Park, NJ
  • Doug Cohen, The Leadership Center (Corrales, NM)
  • Ira Feldman, GreenTrack Strategies (Bethesda, MD)

Onsite Participants:

  • Jan Graff, Big Old Trees (Summit, NJ)
  • Lily Lee (Bridgewater, NJ)
  • Lapyan Chan (Bridgewater, NJ)


  • Jonathan Cloud, Center for Leadership in Sustainability (Basking Ridge, NJ)
  • Victoria L. Zelin, UFC Corporation (Basking Ridge, NJ)

Audio: Here’s the audio recording. (This was done using — the playback number is: 559-726-1299.

Presentation: Here’s the presentation.

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Past Events

Correction: We'll be hosting this year's holiday potluck — "Bringing Solar Power Home for the Holidays" — on Saturday, December 15, from 4 to 9 p.m. Click here for more details. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, November 17, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Sustainable Neighborhood & Community Conversations (III).
Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods and Communities II.
Saturday, September 8, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods & Communities.
Saturday, June 16, 2012: SLF Potluck June 16: Sustainable Living Communities.
The Sustainable Haiti Conference took place April 23-25, 2012 in Miami.
"Inside Job" Movie Party. Saturday, February 11th, 6:00 PM, Liberty Ridge, The Hills, Bernards Twp, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920.
2nd 'Buy Haitian, Restore Haiti Conference', January 26, 2012, Karibe Convention Center, Petion Ville, Haiti
Dec 11 SLF Potluck: "Bringing Sustainability Home for the Holidays" Basking Ridge, NJ. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, July 9, 2011, 4 p.m. Open House Party & Potluck, Saturday, July 9, 4 p.m., Basking Ridge, NJ.
RSVP to [email protected]
Saturday, May 21, 1-4 p.m. EcoCenter Update. At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960.
Saturday, April 16, 1-4 p.m. "Haiti & Us: The Leading Edge of Sustainable Development." At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. A copy of the update presentation has been posted here.
Saturday, March 19, 1-4 p.m. "Creating the Morristown EcoCenter." Held at 55 Bank Street, Morristown, the site of the proposed EcoCenter.
Saturday, February 19, 1-4 p.m. Monthly meeting, ""A Profound Transformation in Consciousness," Morris County Library, Whippany, NJ. Click here for details.
Saturday, January 15, 1-4 p.m. Putting Idealism into Practice: Tour of Half Moon House. Click here for details.
Saturday, December 18, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "Reinventing Wealth," followed by our annual "Potluck for the Planet" from 4 to 8. Click here for details.
Saturday, November 20, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "How Do We Measure Sustainable Value?". Click here for details.
Saturday, October 16, 1-4 p.m. Challenge and Strategy Session: "Toward a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey".
Download the slide presentation here, and the discussion paper here.

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Leadership Quotes

"Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
(Thomas A. Edison—thanks to Regan Caton)

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” (G.B. Shaw)

"There is the true joy of life: to be used by a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; to be thoroughly worn out before being thrown on the scrap heap; to be a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that life will not devote itself to making you happy." (G.B. Shaw)

"Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed." (Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya - thanks to Christine Comaford, Rules for Renegades)