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Planning our way to Sustainability?

In my day vocation, I am employed, in part, to plan for a more sustainable future. As I continue to work with a host of colleagues in every walk of life charged to do the same, it sometimes feels it is an understatement to say this is a staggering task. This is not just because of reasons that one finds in any community endeavor, lack of resources, coordination, etc., but more fundamentally because of our most basic worldview of HOW to achieve a more sustainable future. Some of us humans (myself included) believe that we can manage US into a better future. I think we have to believe this, especially where we congregate in villages, towns, and cities. But as I was discussing with close friends over breakfast this morning, IN ADDITION, it may be more important for each of us to manage OURSELVES.

I recall once what my old friend Dave Hirschman, now at the Center for Watershed Protection, said that he quipped at a function honoring his departure from Albemarle County several years ago. While collesagues were discussing all of Dave’s accomplishments as Manager of the Water Resources Department, which are notable, he says something to the effect….my greatest contribution the entire time I worked for the County was the number of miles I pedaled to and from work on my bicycle. Well, that’s just Dave being modest, for sure. But there is some deep wisdom to his statement. The path to sustainability may be more a collection of sustainable individual actions rather than collective sustainable actions.

Community planning for sustainability is essential. But so is personal planning. And the latter may be more important, and precede, the former.

- Michael Collins

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