Erika Slaymaker is a Philly Fellow working this year with Project H.O.M.E. on implementing our sustainability initiatives and programs.
What is sustainability?
The first ideas that often come to mind when hearing the word “sustainability” include living “green,” recycling, eating organic foods, and other environmental concepts. These are all certainly related to sustainability, but sustainability can be more general as well, encouraging us to think holistically and with a long-term perspective about our actions. Sustainability is a useful larger framework for our vision as an organization.
The United Nations, in 1987, defined sustainability as the ability to “meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” This is an idea that Project H.O.M.E. knows well. Project H.O.M.E. has lasted for more than 20 years, in part, because it has been responsible with its resources and has had an enduring vision.
For example, our mission that “none of us are home until all of us are home” demonstrates this well. It’s about making sure people’s needs are met in ways that don’t get in the way of other people’s needs being met. It is about understanding the larger context and consequences of our choices and the impact they have. It is about the world we want to live in, recognizing that we are all connected to one another.
In this way, sustainability as a framework already fits within Project H.O.M.E.’s work. Therefore, one next step is to incorporate intentionality about how we interact with the environment into our organization. We are thinking about the resources we use, about the waste we create, and our ecological footprint as a whole. As a part of the most recent strategic plan, we have included environmental concerns as a strategic and important aspect of our work.
Working towards environmental sustainability at Project H.O.M.E. is not new – we have been thinking about our environmental impact for many years now. This is evidenced in the strides we have made, including using Philly Car Share, implementing a recycling program, green building within our home ownership program and our new residences, especially Connelly House, and teaching our students about gardening, nutrition, and local food at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs.
Even with these major steps, we want to do more.
I believe sustainability has to be a community process in order to have meaningful impact. I look forward to having more conversations throughout Project H.O.M.E. to learn what sustainability means to us and developing a plan together for what our organization can do to take responsibility for our impact on the environment.
Our whole community is committed to envisioning a Project H.O.M.E. that is truly sustainable. We seek to tap our collective imagination to come up with more possibilities and concrete steps for Project H.O.M.E. to express its important commitment to sustainability.
All of us at Project H.O.M.E. want to move together towards more a more sustainable future. We welcome ideas and input from all our friends and supporters. Please comment on this blog, or contact me with answers and ideas at 215-232-7229 ext. 4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.