Aspire toward sustainability

In all my years of working in the field of community development, I have yet to come across a community that did not aspire toward sustainability. The increasing popularity of the term in recent decades has contributed to many wonderful mission statements, yet, as a whole we continue on a very unsustainable trajectory.

As a college professor, I am always encouraging my students to think critically about the notion of sustainability and what it means for their communities. As they reflect upon their community’s dependence on external funding, fossil fuels, food and supply imports as well as the extent to which their community is impacted by political decisions made in Juneau and Washington, D.C., all of a sudden greater sustainability seems less and less within reach.

The passage of a measure to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was yet another setback in creating a different, more sustainable future. As long as our elected leaders are willing to compromise some of our country’s most environmentally significant areas in return for the potential of oil and gas, than we are stuck thinking in a short-term, rather than a long-term, paradigm.

No one that I know wants to be remembered as the generation responsible for such special places being forever disturbed. While most of us may not be actively serving in the House or Senate and maybe feel relatively powerless in relation to those decision-makers, we can let our voices be heard. Emailing or calling your elected representatives only takes a few minutes out of your day yet sends a powerful message that there are people left in the world that care about the coastal plain and the life that depends upon it.

Charlene Stern,


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

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