For the third year in a row, we are so proud to support, partner with, and learn from Sustain Dane. We’re amazed by their huge amount and array of programming and stand by their community-first approach to sustainability. I got to catch up with Jessie Lerner of Sustain Dane to learn the ins and outs of what Sustain Dane has going on right now — read below to find out!

Tell me about the history and mission of Sustain Dane?

Sustain Dane has been a force for good in Dane County for twenty years now. We have recently reimagined and refocused our mission and vision statements:

Vision: We are a thriving and connected community with a sustainable economy and environment we are proud to pass on to future generations.

Mission: We inspire, connect, and support people to accelerate sustainable actions for community wellbeing. I’d like to highlight the word “accelerate”. We’ve always focused on people and how the individual can impact change. There are lots of individuals impacting lots of change, and our job is to accelerate sustainable change, make it go faster. In order to do this, we need to have broader networks and work together.

What is something about your organization that people might not know about/might surprise people?

At any given point in the last 20 years, our staff has been anywhere from 1-8 people strong, and we currently have only 3. Our staff is extremely small. I think people would find this surprising because we have so, so much programming — it is a combination of skilled, passionate staff and our rich partnerships that allow us to have such a large volume of programming.

Sustain Dane did a lot of amazing things in 2018. What was your favorite stand-out event/initiative/that SD did in 2018? What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

The thing that stands out in my mind from 2018 is the 10th annual Sustain Dane Summit. Formerly known as Badger Bioneers, this year’s edition of the event was very different from years past. We focused heavily on youth, art, and forward thinking. In particular, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison sponsored the comedy group called 1491s to entertain Summit-goers. A group of Native Americans, their style of comedy is cynical and involves plenty of Native American satire. Bringing them to the Summit was a risk in terms of how people would react — but we are at a point where must take risks to move forwardIn 2019, we are pausing our MPower program. This past year we had more than 40 organizations interested in participating, but we were only able to accommodate a cohort of 4. It is time to consider how we can alter our work that is geared towards organizations to be more effective.

Also, we will be hiring a new executive director this year! Stay tuned for a job posting to be released very soon.

What types of resources are available to people through Sustain Dane?

This biggest resource Sustain Dane offers to the community is a network. Through our programming, we have a large network of professionals, activists, volunteers and community members who are all interested in making sure the Dane County area is sustainable.

How can people get involved with Sustain Dane? Events coming up?  

Newsletter – The best way for folks to get involved with Sustain Dane is by signing up for our newsletter to stay updated on upcoming events and ways to be sustainable.

Two upcoming events of note:

-1/18 MPower AND Quarterly Meeting of Sustainable Business Network. Full details and RSVP here

-1/31 Brunch for Sustainability at Short Stack Eatery