NLC’s Sustainability Coordinators’ Workshop Helps Cities Jumpstart Sustainability Initiatives in their Communities

Grand Lake, Colorado
August 18, 2013

By Raksha Vasudevan

NLC’s Sustainable Cities Institute (SCI) recently co-hosted a four-day workshop for sustainability coordinators with the non-profit organization Shadowcliff. The workshop took place in the Town of Grand Lake, Colorado and was intended for sustainability coordinators, city managers and other city staff from small- to medium-sized communities that are just beginning to implement sustainability initiatives and programs in their communities.  The purpose of the workshop was to bring together sustainability professionals to share knowledge and learn from each other, and learn from experts in the field.

Set in a mountain lodge with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, attendees were able to gather inspiration from expert colleagues as well as from the natural beauty surrounding them. The first day kicked off with an exploration of sustainability’s triple-bottom line (social, economic and environmental) in relation to the laws of nature. The following days included in-depth conversations and trainings with experienced city sustainability coordinators on a variety of topics, including:

  • Garnering support from the community
  • Capitalizing on the community’s existing assets to progress sustainability initiatives
  • Developing effective performance measures 

Other discussions focused on effective leadership types, governance strategies and the importance of establishing strong partnerships within and outside of city government.

On the last day, participants worked in small groups to identify pressing sustainability issues in their communities, and to develop strategies and tangible next steps based on the prior days’ conversations.  Whether it was confronting air pollution issues or determining strategies to educate the local community, each participant left the workshop with specific next steps, as well as a strong network of peers to continue to learn from and share ideas with.   

The workshop attendees represented a diverse range of geographies, allowing for robust dialogue and discussion on strategies to jumpstart sustainability initiatives. Participating cities included Avondale, Ariz.; El Paso, Texas; Omaha, Neb.; Eugene, Ore.; Mission, Kan.; and Provo, Utah.

For more information on how your community can start a sustainability program or improve its existing one, contact Raksha Vasudevan, Senior Associate, Sustainability at NLC.