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All real change is local. You can help provide sustainable projects to Central Coast communities.

Sustainable Cities - The Role of Local Governments

Local governments are a little challenged these days, worried about their budgets, or gangs, or fundamental infrastructure. So who has time to worry about sustainability? It's a concept out of the comfort zone, cities don't even know what department ought to be paying attention to sustainability. Does it fit in environmental health or public works or the building department? What the heck is a climate action plan anyway, and who is going to train "green building" inspectors? Whatever sustainability requires, if it takes money. it'll have to wait.

But those who have been pestered by citizens or prodded by enlightened leaders have pursued progress in the sustainability direction anyway. Some cities have signed the Urban Environmental Accords and the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement initiated in Seattle. These lay out progressive steps for cities, making the path clearer. Some cities are working with the international non-profit called "Local Governments for Sustainability" (www.iclei.org), which offers a good toolbox to help cities figure out how to do this. Others hire consultants experienced with measuring local carbon impacts and constructing Climate Action Plans.

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Why do businesses bother "going green"? Is it just greenwashing?

A term like "greenwashing" always confuses folks from other countries, even if their English is really good. "Like white-washing" we say, "only about green stuff." Blank looks prompt us to explain further, "It's just a surface coat of milky runny paint that won't last, just to make things look good for a little while, like the green claims from corporations that don't go very deep or make much real difference." Ah, they recognize this now, it happens in their home countries too.

So is all the green business talk just hooey? Superficial changes meant to convince a gullible public that Exxon doesn't spill oil or Monsanto doesn't deal in toxic chemicals, or that soda pop is good for your health? There is a lot of greenwashing out there. Half-measures, half-truths, flimsy claims and bogus measurements are common in today's eco-advertisements. How is a person to know what's really what?

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Just What Exactly is "Sustainability"? Has anybody seen it?

By now we all know a "green" house is not one just painted that color. Sustainable agriculture is not the same as conventional agriculture. And hybrid cars probably have something to do with it all. Some of us are more sophisticated, and we realize that the best eco-friendly products are certified by some third party, or that you can save energy by switching to smaller florescent bulbs with electronic ballasts. But what is sustainability really?

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