- Feb 07
What Does It Mean?
Newsletter Article - February 2007
When asked to define the purpose of the Cape Cod Center for Sustainability, it's tempting to answer simply that it is "to sustain Cape Cod." But I know this response doesn't shed much light because sustainability is a term that does not yet have a commonly understood definition.
In part to address this semantic problem, we've undertaken several projects over the years in an effort to reach some sort of consensus about the measures that define the Cape's quality of life. What we've discovered is that it's very easy to get buried in measures that define specific segments of our community:
• building permits
• room and meal tax revenues
• population and demographic trends, year-round and visitor
• voter turn-out
• average family income
• wage levels
• water and air quality measures
• bird migration patterns
• fishing stock levels
and so on ...
We've come to realize and appreciate that the importance and relevance of any one measure changes as circumstances change. For Example:
• Calculating the amount of available of open space in the mid 1980's had a much different purpose than tracking open space does today
• Measuring the potential impacts of offshore drilling on George's Bank is no longer worrisome to many now
• And at that time, virtually no one concerned themselves with setting up monitoring towers to determine wind patterns.
We concluded that it does not serve the broad community very well to try and rank which specific measure or set of measures define "sustainability". It's simply not possible to gain real understanding and competence on any but a small number of these measures.
What is possible is taking action which supports the efforts of people and organizations more specifically engaged. We can do more to sustain the Cape if we work to find ways to support and supplement the efforts of Cape based organizations and the people who live here. The purpose of this newsletter over time will be to focus on the specific efforts of others and to promote reasons why people might wish to pitch in.
Sustainability at its core is about the choices that people make! And to that end, it sustains the Cape if people improve their job skills or attend to their health. Literacy levels are just as important (if not more so) than nitrate levels. Our goal is to encourage people to get engaged in the life of the Cape and to contribute their skills and energy to the many efforts already underway here that improve the quality of our life.
If you wish to receive them, we'll send you periodic updates regarding these topics via this newsletter. We welcome information you might wish to provide us about a person or organization whose effort we should recognize as one that sustains the Cape.
The website www.SustainCapeCod.org is the place where accumulate this information and where we hope you will find links to others with whom you may share common interests and concerns. To the extent that we encourage these connections, we'll succeed in more clearly defining what it means to "sustain" Cape Cod.