The Age of Sustainability

At the recent Outlook conference, sponsored by Governing, I was surprised by the widespread use of the term “Sustainable.”  It’s used so frequently in conjunction with the Green Movement that my mind goes there first.  At the conference, “Sustainable” was used in almost every presentation in reference to a myriad of issues.

Here are a few of the uses:

Straight party votes aren’t Sustainable.  We need a Sustainable budget. Solutions and programs must be Sustainable.  Economic development must be Sustainable and viewed not as an expense but as an investment.  Infrastructure must be smart and Sustainable.  Our current healthcare plan isn’t Sustainable.  How Sustainable is our system of government in terms of revenue and taxing, water, energy, transportation, workforce education, jobs, the health of adults and children and livable cities?

I grew up before the “green” movement in an era that just naively assumed abundance – big cars, phosphates in the detergents and not recycling.  The children of today are fully entrenched in the concept of Sustainable.  Their understanding of limited resources isn’t only from a protection of the Earth perspective but from all the aspects of Sustainable issues listed above.  It’s a much more pragmatic, realistic, forward-looking approach – but also the end of the age of innocence in a sense.

This rings of less optimism, but it doesn’t have to.  It could also be the age of innovation and willingness to try new solutions and embrace new technology and public, private partnerships.  We can use the crisis as a driver to ultimately create a better world, a more Sustainable world.

What do you think?  What do you see as sustainable and why?  What actions are you taking to continue sustainability?  We look forward to your comments.
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