I attended yesterday's kickoff luncheon for Spokane's Sustainable September. I enjoyed a delicious lunch and was impressed with the turnout of several hundred people. I was impressed with the thoughtfulness and obvious commmitment to sustainability expressed by the presenters.
Dan Baumgarten, the Executive Director of Community Minded Enterprises, the driving force behind Sustainable September, talked about his organization's vision for community in Spokane where people are involved with each other in meaningful, empowering ways.
Jeremy Hansen, the chef from Sante', was introduced by Mr. Baumgarten as an "idealist." He spoke passionately about his vision for local, sustainable food. I can't remember his exact words but I came away with the sense that his way of running a restaurant is a way of life as much as it is a business.
The keynote speaker was Kevin Danaher, co-founder of Global Exchange and leading voice in the Green movement. His presentation mostly focused on the reasons US corporations should develop a sustainable approach to business. His argument is that it's good for the earth and good for the bottom line.
But his concluding powerpoint slide and remarks made specific what I had been intuitively picking up on from other speakers. He concluded by talking about the need to merge spirit and science. He pointed to the big picture and said we need to pursue sustainability because we're all more than just a "bag of skin." He didn't overtly use the words "spirituality of sustainability" but that was the implication of his comments. According to Mr Danaher there is something deeply spiritual about sustainability. When people stood to applaud his closing remarks, he bowed with hands together, in a traditional East Asian gesture with roots in Buddhism.
As was evident at the gathering on Wednesday, there is an inherent striving after meaning and purpose and the big picture in the sustainability movement. There is something spiritual about seeking sustainability and among the diverse crowd gathered at the Masonic Temple (irony alert), everyone seemed in agreement. The fusion was flawless. Exclamations of "Amen" and "Preach it brother." would have fit right in. We even took up an offering after the sermon/talk.
In a follow up post tomorrow I'm going to flesh out more specifics of a spirituality of sustainability, but I'm curious if anyone can chime in on the connections you experience between the two.