Can you name your great-great grandparents? I can’t. I can name six generations but not SEVEN GENERATIONS—my great grandfather Jacob Daley Gumm, my grandfather Jesse Daley Gumm, my father Wilford Gumm, my brother Robert Daley Gumm, his son Brian Daley Gumm and his son Ethan Daley Gumm!
Scott Eccleston, Director of Grounds and Facilities at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, summed up the concept of “sustainability” in a way that makes it real to me. Scott said “Sustainability is working to make sure that SEVEN GENERATIONS from now our descendants inherit a healthy environment like we enjoy and experience today.” I like that description of Sustainability = Seven Generations.
Seven generations is a l-o-n-g time. My great grandfather was born in the mid-1800’s and his great-great-great grandson was born in May 2014! How could we ever attempt to influence the quality of life SEVEN GENERATIONS from now? Will they know if we cared enough to try?
Fayetteville’s Sarah Wrede and son
While we can disagree on some things, I think we can all agree on wanting the best possible future for our children and our children’s children. In the midst of our busy daily lives, there’s an urgency to look past today and toward the needs of the future also. The right plans and positive actions today will help to ensure a healthy social, economic, and natural environment for future generations to come.
This is what SUSTAINABILITY is all about. We must consider people, the economy and the environment – the three pillars of sustainability. The goal of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership is to help create more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable communities in our Watershed.
“Sustainability is equity over time … think of it as extending the Golden rule through time… Do unto future generations as you would have them do unto you,” says Robert Gilman, Context Institute. “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony that permits fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have, and will continue to have, the water and resources to protect human health and the environment. We hear the word “sustainability” often and the reason is that it describes a holistic response to concerns about unintended social, environmental, and economic impacts of population growth, economic growth and consumption of our natural resources.
Dad and kids fishing in the lake at Cave Springs
Sustainable actions must be based on sound science and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership seeks to improve our Watershed by promoting sustainable actions to preserve, protect and restore our watershed.
We want to help educate stakeholders about local, state and federal voluntary incentives for residential and commercial property owners to install Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development projects, encouraging and spurring private owners to take action.
We are working to install demonstration projects, offer workshops, “how-to” materials and guides that help private landowners, schools and businesses to learn more about sustainable actions that we can all take today to build a sustainable future.
In our watershed, we see the Razorback Greenway and Trails providing easy pedestrian and bicycle access to work and school as well as to small pocket parks and larger destination parks. We see homes being built within 1,000 ft/300 meters of parklands and trails to reduce reliance on cars. We see the inclusion of bike lanes and tree-lined sidewalks with a “way-finding” system designed to show how quickly people can walk or cycle to their chosen destinations.
Our Watershed Learning Center is a community facility centrally located in the Watershed that offers monthly programs for children and adults to promote a healthy lifestyle and environment with a healthy social interaction.
Second and third generation Haak farm family in Gentry, AR
We see sustainable land conservation practices available through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which helps farmer and important farmlands to be most productive and protective of the Watershed.
In our Watershed, we see sustainable communities achieving less stormwater runoff, decreased infrastructure costs, preservation of important landscapes, saving people time in traffic, and becoming more economically and environmentally resilient.
Developing more sustainable communities is important to us and begins at the local level with support from state and national levels. These are all goals that most folks agree with and from there we can begin to work together to achieve sustainable communities where we live.
Our goal is to provide leadership for the responsible use of land and helping to create and sustain thriving communities in the Illinois River Watershed.
Let’s take the sustainability challenge out SEVEN GENERATIONS. I think we can all agree on wanting the best possible future for our children and our children’s children…and their children’s children.