“What freedom was to our parents, sustainability will be to our children.”
–Tom Friedman, International Monetary Fund Board Retreat, 2012
Sustainability as a philosophy, policy, and socio-economic practice has emerged as one of the most critical economic, social, and environmental issues of our time. Global corporations, universities, foundations, communities and governments have embraced the necessity of balancing our responsible use of natural, economic, and social capital to ensure a livable world for future generations. The problem is that there are no public institutions where students and families can creatively interact and explore sustainable solutions for their everyday problems and consumer decisions. The Bridge is a proposal we (Chora and WRNS) have made to create just such a public institution at the Presidio dedicated to the policy and practice of sustainability. We intend to activate the entire Presidio site as a teaching platform about the idea of sustainability. Engaging the public in meaningful learning about alternative energy, smart cities, sustainable consumer decision-making and sustaining ecosystem services are the kinds of themes the Bridge will address.
This is why it is so aggravating when an uninformed cultural columnist for the New York Times dismisses this serious proposal as hoping “to instruct visitors in organic farming and slow food movement.” Never mind the fact that neither organic farming or the slow food movement appear anywhere in our proposal, Ms. Solomon chose to express her glib, dismissive, and ignorant view that sustainability was some form of new age, Whole Food, liberal environmentalism. Far from it! Sustainability is a tough-minded re-assessment of how we do business, make our daily decisions, and think about our moral responsibility to future generations. We can only hope that when she removes her tongue from her cheek, she does the responsible thing and actually reads our proposal on the Presidio web site and gives it a fair and honest critique.