Have you ever wanted to talk about environmental issues with your family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors? Or how about people in your community? Have you yourself wanted to learn more about a particular subject? With the environment becoming such a hot topic these days I can't help but wonder what people think about it all. Climate change, water issues, being green, food choices, and sustainability are all words we hear on nearly a daily basis. But what about them?
The Utah Society for Environmental Education hosts Community Discussion Groups where members of the community get together to talk about these topics. There are several courses to choose from including Healthy Children Healthy Planet to Voluntary Simplicity (and many more!) Each person in the group receives a book. One section of the book is read before each group meeting and then group members discuss the readings from that section. The sections contain published articles and contain new information and ways of thinking about whatever topic your group is covering. It's kind of like a directed book club, only each group member has a chance to play facilitator, questions and activities are embedded into section text, and a celebration potluck is highly recommended at the end of each book.
Over the summer, I participated in the brand new Menu for the Future Community Discussion with my co-workers and some other members from the environmental education community in Salt Lake City. It was a fabulous experience where I was able to connect with community members and my co-workers on a different level. Even though I know quite a bit about sustainable food choices, I learned so much about the importance of the decisions that I make everyday about what I am eating. Menu for the Future addresses questions like: If I can't have both, is it better to go with local or organic? What is the nutritional difference between conventionally grown and organically grown produce? and What is up with all this fish talk? At the end of the course we had a celebration potluck where we exchanged all of our delicious recipes. Those of us who had gardens spent plenty of time trading tomato-growing tips, winter bedding secrets, and urban chicken-ing.
In the fall, I will be in charge of the Choices for Sustainable Living Community Discussion group that is currently forming. I am really looking forward to this course as an extension to get to know my community a little better, and especially to learn more about choices that I can make in my everyday life in continuing to become more sustainable. The course starts during the last week of September. There are also four other discussion courses, including Healthy Children Healthy Planet, Discovering a Sense of Place, Global Warming: Changing CO2urse, and Menu for the Future, beginning that same week. I will be posting a more detailed schedule soon for those of you who would like more information. Generally, discussion meetings are held weekly, but the format of the courses are flexible depending on the needs of your group. To register for one of these groups, or to start your own, contact Nancy Carruthers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't live in Salt Lake City? No problem! These courses are available to anyone who wants to form one and we can point you in the right direction of how to get involved, just let us know!