What would it look like if IslandVision achieved its mission of sustainable prosperity on Mercer Island.
Following is a creative list of brief, personal narratives exploring the principles of sustainability from the perspective of families living on Mercer Island in the year 2050. This is a work in progress. Feel free to contribute by emailing email@example.com.
A. The number of users of the community-based online barter system has swelled to more than 50% of the Island population. The youngest user is 11 year old Elizabeth Israel who offers weed pulling services in exchange for mentoring from 82 year old ecologist Jessica Randy. The categories of products and services exchanged through the local currency, Island Gold, is almost has extensive as the number of people taking advantage of the service.
B. The Farmer’s Market is year round now and housed in one of the most architecturally beautiful open structures in the region. The Mercer Island Arts Council, Parks Department and Sustainable Community Connections (formerly known as the Chamber of Commerce) each played a vital role in making this a reality. All of the food is fresh and local and about 20% is actually grown with pride right here on Mercer Island by a dozen or so enterprising citizen micro-farmers, community garden clubs, and student learning teams as part of their core curriculum.
C. One of the things we take for granted now in the beauty of our neighborhoods is that you seldom see lawns. Lawns slowly went out of fashion in the 20’s and a whole new aesthetic has taken root, so to speak. Today’s yards are designed around beautiful inner courtyards and open shared spaces that line bike trails and roads. While beautiful, the landscape has actually been very carefully engineered to accommodate 100% of stormwater runoff on site. These days, there are no stormwater pipes that take pollution straight to salmon in our lake. This was one of those quiet changes that had multiple victories.
D. The Mercer Island Schools are national leaders in integrating education around the principles of sustainable prosperity. Little by little each school campus has been rebuilt to be a carbon neutral building, most of them actual create more energy then they use, feeding electricity back into the neighborhood smart grid. Every kid and his or her family speaks “carbonese’ quite fluently now. They know exactly how energy is used in their home. It’s been fun. And all of this is not something that the maintenance depart did, it grew out of the Applied Learning Lab at the high school. In fact the entire K-12 curriculum is project-based and assessment of student learning has been recalibrated to focus on whether the projects work and if not how to solve the problem. A unique aspect to this approach is that in today’s world you can’t find a single class assignment or project that isn’t directly in service to the needs of the local or global community. The new standard is clearly established in our Strategic Plan for Teaching and Learning: “Is what we are learning of direct benefit to community well-being?” There seems to be plenty of math, physics, chemistry, writing, reading and research in just answering that question as thoroughly as we can.
E. The curriculum in our schools today is simultaneously much simpler and much richer. The four main learning skills are systems thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. The big projects that require on-going student engagement tend to focus around big integrated systems like food, water, zero waste, energy, transportation, community building, ecological economics, participatory democracy and world collaboration.
F. All of our schools are fully integrated with the Island business community. Internet companies, engineering firms, video production and sound recording suites, clinics of integrated medicine, law offices, food ecologists, architectural firms, artists, musicians, day care and elder care providers all share the building with students and teachers. Learning is taking place in a variety of settings with groups of different sizes and configurations. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the students from the teachers. Learners can be seen in a variety of technologically enhanced learning environments working independently or in project groups, attending seminars and consulting with mentors both face to face and via satellite.
Following is a list of brainstormed ideas waiting to be spun into narratives from 2050.
• children leave the house in the morning and come home for supper, safe place, things to do, adventures to create
• biosphere/regional energy production and independence
• net negative regional carbon footprint because of emphasis on renewable energy sources and sequestration in forests
• living in harmony with nature, e.g. a lake we can swim in, abundance of local wildlife
• repair instead of replace using local expertise
• community entertainment (w/o TV!), including storytelling, plays, music
• knowledge and familiarity with our neighbors and strong social networks
• Mercer Island neighborhoods have charming identity and related services
• no reliance on autos because of: clustered town centers so everyone on the island can walk to corner the grocery store; kids have abundant bike and walking pathways to school including overpasses; all electric, no gas cars on island; electric car plug-in infrastructure in building code; availability of multimodal transportation options; exceptional electric shuttle service; light rail; some parking lots converted to community gardens;
• healthy waterways - clean runoff, strong salmon returns in Lake Washington
• natural landscaping returns shoreline for fish habitat
• stormwater runoff solved by retrofitting bioswlaes and retentions ponds
• building code requires LID, onsite treatments of stormwater, reuse of gray water, harvest of rainwater • neighborhood based energy systems
• neighborhood based wastewater treatment and cycling and erngy
• minimal invasive species (holly, blackberry, english ivy, etc.)
• abundance of native plants and animals, people use native species within landscapes
• building code assumes sustainable practices
• affordable housing for people who work on MI
• cottage house, work force housing, retirement living and home preschool clusters
• local businesses who actively support triple bottom line accountability
• clothes from local (regional) materials, e.g. cotton grown in E. Washington and then manufactured locally
• cradle to cradle design for other consumer goods including manufacturer end of life responsibility, very little non-recyclable or compostable waste
• no burn ban days or local smog, healthy air
• reduced overall consumerism
• rooftop solar will generate 50% of Island Energy needs
• Ecological restoration technologies will help decontaminate brownfield patches
• Historical society will also be know as future society
• City will host regional and national summits and forums on community sustainability issues.