Doing "sustainability work" on campus generally means trying to change institutional operations so that they're less destructive of the environment. Or helping students organize so that they can encourage society to be less destructive of the environment. Or teaching about technologies which can help businesses and individuals operate in a way that's less destructive of the environment.
But sometimes, sustainability isn't about the environment. Sometimes, it's about society. Or, at the very least, it's about how environmental limits and constraints, even if seemingly ignored, come back to bite the (ever-growing) share of society which isn't at the (ever-shrinking) top of the heap. A rising tide that lifts all boats is well and good, but society's well being sometimes depends on making sure the average citizen even has a boat.
It's in this spirit that I'm encouraged by a 35-minute video that recently came to my attention. It shows a talk given at TED back in 2002, by a guy named Bill Strickland. It just might be the most succinct definition I've seen of social, and thereby economic, sustainability. So, please, get a cup of coffee or a tall glass of whatever, find a comfortable chair, and watch it.
You'll be glad you did.
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