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October 25, 2010

USEE Member Highlight

Sustain Utah
-by Charice Bourdeaux

We have all heard the saying “you can’t be in two places at once”, well this saying and the basic physics of reality mean nothing to Sustain Utah and their Executive Director/ Co-founder Shelley Marshall. From festivals and events to meetings and community projects, Sustain Utah is in every place that involves the practice of sustainability. I interviewed Sustain Utah’s Executive Director at the Outdoor Retailer’s Expo. She greeted me friendly and took me back through the larger than life exhibits. We passed several booths, of which at least one person had met and spoken with Shelley. With every person we encountered she made sure to tell them about USEE and how great we are. This is the fundamental nature of Sustain Utah. The organization seeks to work with, and in some cases for, not against other environmentally focused groups and institutions. This philosophy came about shortly after a meeting with 20 plus individuals consisting mainly of new nonprofits at Squatters Pub. They discussed the need for new and existing nonprofits to all come together and increase communication between each other. They also discussed the need to provide a source where the community can access information about all of Utah’s environmental organizations in one place. The board of directors consists of a diverse group of individuals and as Shelley mentioned “they each have a deeper involvement within the green community”.

Sustain Utah's mission is to “Support and nurture the development of Utah's sustainability related non-profit organizations”. I asked Shelley what the mission meant to her personally, her answer was to “create a space where collaboration can take place between all environmentally focused organizations". She also stressed the “importance of streamlining information so that the community is aware of what is happening among the different environmental groups”. This mission is seen through with the development of their monthly calendar, the project Shelley mentioned when asked which project she is most proud of. The calendar lists practically every sustainable-related event in Utah, from workshops and fairs, to farmer’s markets and hazardous waste collections.

There is still so much to come from this organization. Their board members and volunteers work hard to provide a comprehensible calendar of events, but are also in the process of working on creating an iphone app. and quarterly lunch-ins. In order to broaden their audience and to maximize their efforts in current projects Sustain Utah is collaborating with USEE on their newly developed volunteer program. They also want to show their appreciation and support of the hard-working environmental organizations by creating ways to give back to these various groups. Sustain Utah is a relatively new organization yet, they have been successful in connecting with a large number of environmental groups and nonprofits. They have demonstrated great support of these groups by providing them with community outreach resources such as the calendar or supplying Cliff bars for nonprofits to give away at their events. From connecting with institutions such as Tracy Aviary to groups like Slow Food Utah, they seem to be everywhere. As I mentioned before, whoever said “you can’t be in two places at once” was definitely not talking about Sustain Utah.

To learn more about Sustain Utah visit: www.sustainutah.org

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