Many I have talked to have concern about what the future of the Iron Range holds, not just for us, but for our children and grandchildren – this is where the plan for Regional Sustainability comes from. The plan breaks down into four main components: Economy, Stewardship, Infrastructure, and Community.
I grew up in a small business household and know about what it’s like to experience the ups and downs. I still remember how humbling it was the couple of times we went to the food shelf when I was a kid. But my parents taught me to stick with it and work through the tough times. What I want to focus on is how we make the low times more bearable and less frequent. For details on the Economic Plan see the press release from earlier this month.
The stewardship piece, is not limited to the environment, it includes issues such as how products are manufactured (whether they are designed to be durable or disposable), and our level of energy consumption. Far too many goods are designed to be thrown away and that has a significant impact over time.
My dryer is older than I am, and I wouldn’t trade it for a new one because it was built to last, not so I have to buy a new one in a couple years, and when it does break, I can just run down to Jenia’s Appliance and get the part I need to fix it. The problem is that stockholders have moved the focus of product design away from quality and durability to profit.
Renewable energies, product design, and consumer usage are all factors that need to be taken into account regarding sustainable energy consumption.
While infrastructure is also a part of our Economic Plan it plays an important role in regional sustainability. We need to plan for the future and make sure that we are building infrastructure to help us when times are tough. We live surrounded by an uncertain economic and political landscape, and I want to make sure that we are well prepared.
Our foundation is in mining, but this also includes investment in local farmers to support regional food independence (the ability to grow / produce our own food in Northeastern MN), and utility and broadband design that could still provide local communications even if the broader network is down.
The Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability (IRPS), one of the charitable boards that I have served on and the organization that has sponsored Earth Fest for the last 10 years, defines sustainability in terms of the environment, economy, and community.
The community aspect of regional sustainability includes accessible community education and other programing especially for youth and seniors, childcare, and continuing to build relationships between organizations with shared goals.