Culver has participated in the Green Schools National Network, sending students and faculty to the GSNN’s productive and inspiring national conference each of the past two years. Below is a thoughtful post from the GSNN Board written by Tim Cole, the Sustainability Officer for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Mr. Cole, a retired Navy SEAL, connects sustainability principles to many of the leadership principles to which we aspire at Culver.
Virginia Beach is a conservative community politically and home to several military installations. The community is also one of the most at-risk communities in the country to sea level rise associated with climate change.
The large school system has enthusiastically embraced sustainability in their curricular and operational practices. Mr. Cole writes:
It’s been a tumultuous year in politics and the rhetoric around the election has provided us with… let’s just say, a multitude of “teachable moments.”
In a recent news story on 13newsnow.com titled “Post-election comments prompt principal’s letter to embrace shared values in Virginia Beach,” Dr. Alex Bergren, Principal at Princess Anne Middle School in Virginia Beach, recently sent a letter home to parents addressing an increase in what he described as “disrespectful and at times hateful comments.” Dr. Bergren did a great job addressing the issue in a thoughtful and non-partisan wayIn his letter, Dr. Bergren talks about respect and inclusion. These are subjects that are prevalent in any meaningful discussion around sustainability. Furthermore, by discussing sustainability in the context of the Triple Bottom Line, balancing social, economic, and environmental outcomes becomes part of our daily decision making process and allows us to explore the interconnectedness and interdependencies that we not only have with one another, but with everything within our universe. Expand this perspective and our discussion begins to explore larger issues around equity, inclusion, and empathy.
Recently, I was listening to a podcast on NPR of a discussion between David Brooks (Columnist, New York Times) and E. J. Dionne (Columnist, Washington Post) on Sinfulness, Hopefulness, and the Possibility of Politics. David Brooks quoted Dave Jolly, a veterinarian in Oregon. The quote resonated with the times. He said, “What a wise person says is the least of that which he gives. What gets communicated is the small gestures and the whole totality of their being, that is to say the small gestures of kindness, of grace, of honesty, of hard truth-telling. Never forget the message is the person.”
As we head into the holidays, consider how you can integrate the Triple Bottom Line into your sustainability efforts, be they in the classroom, the school building and grounds, or in the decisions you make to improve the health, well-being, and culture of your school or district. No effort is too small.
You might also consider supporting the Green Schools National Network, as we translate the Triple Bottom Line for schools and school district leaders across the country. Consider a year end donation that will support the 2017 launch of a new magazine for the K-12 community, the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, and our new K-12 Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership program.
Others will follow your example. It starts with you.
“The message is the person.”