Everyone has resolutions.

Whether they’re for the New Year, in response to current events, part of a promise to honor social or environmental movements, or simply for personal growth – many of us can identify with wanting to improve our lives for the better.

What most of us might not consider is whether or not we’re interested in pursuing sustainable changes… BUT, before you sell yourself short – you might be surprised to learn that, more often than not, you’re already on the right track!

To ring in the new year, SSE was thrilled to start out 2018 by learning from our wonderful organization of the month, Sustain Dane! We chatted with Lucille Marshall to learn more about how Sustain Dane serves as a resource for all sustainability efforts throughout Madison – both large and small – and how we can incorporate many of those practices into our own resolutions for the future!


So, what is “sustainability” anyway?

Something exciting about sustainability work is that it has the ability to bring lots of people together. It’s about transforming our community for the better to strive for a shared future in which we are all healthy and thriving.

You can think of sustainability as a three-legged stool — supported by social, economic, and environmental efforts throughout our local community. The first addresses the need for strong connections with others by working towards an equitable society and fostering a sense of belonging amongst all corners of the community. The second supports livable wages, affordable housing, and just economic practices. And the third ensures access to a beautiful and healthy environment including clean air, water, and food for all.


What is the history and mission of Sustain Dane?

Sustain Dane began in the 1990’s as a grassroots initiative by a group of local neighbors. What began as a place to hold discussion circles and learn about incorporating sustainable changes into everyday life eventually blossomed into a fully-fledged nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status that now addresses the needs of the entire Madison community.

Sustain Dane believes that change happens when inspired people take action. They partner with sustainability champions and community leaders throughout Dane County to support existing sustainability efforts, provide visibility and a platform for other organizations to communicate their own initiatives, and aim to be a resource for all Madisonians looking to become partners in improving our community — on any level.  


How does that work in practice?

Every year, Sustain Dane hosts an annual conference called the Badger Bioneers. Over the course of one uplifting day, Sustain Dane brings together youth, professionals, neighbors, community activists, educators, and volunteers to connect with one another and learn how to create local sustainable movements for change.

They have also created the Sustainable Business Network and the MPower Business Champion program for successful business leaders who believe in building a just economy, and harnessing the power of the business sector to create change.

For those looking to create change on the individual level, be sure to look at their Take Action checklist with ideas to incorporate into your daily life, or consider signing up for the 21-Day Eco-Equity Challenge to learn more about the various pathways within sustainability work, ideas to bring to your local communities, and more opportunities to consider sustainable practices in your daily life.


What is one facet of Sustain Dane’s work that might be surprising to others?

One of Sustain Dane’s newest initiatives is a storytelling project called The Megaphone. The Megaphone aims to be a powerful community platform that provides the space and tools to craft and share our stories; people from different backgrounds, races, age, gender and geographies that are working on and want to inspire others to build a more sustainable and inclusive community.

To kick off this new initiative, community members have been invited to participate in two Megaphone Storytelling Workshops and a StorySlam. Participants will craft and share their stories with fellow neighbors, learning about the art of storytelling that empowers and transforms. The Storytelling Workshops will be facilitated by Jen Rubin, co-producer of The Moth and Takeyla Benton, co-producer of Listen to Your Mother.


So, how do we get involved?

  • For those with less time but looking to make small changes to your daily life or environment, throw Sustain Dane a like on Facebook or Twitter! Social media is a great way to stay in the know regarding Sustain Dane’s many community partners and to receive updates about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities!

  • Those interested in joining through their workhat should definitely check out the Sustainable Business Network, which provides a breadth and depth of resources — including an online resources hub, ideas for new sustainability trends to incorporate into your own workplace, resource events, and quarterly meetings where participants have the opportunity to network, connect, and listen to speakers on an array of different topics tailored for the business sector.

  • To learn more about leaders within our own community, Sustain Dane has launched a new Facebook group dedicated to The Megaphone itself where folks can join in the conversation and share their own sustainability stories! Feel free to drop a hashtag with #themegaphone to help amplify your own sustainability work to inspire others in your community!