SSI Information

Chapter 7:
From the head, things to know …
The first thing to know is that you don’t need the SSA.  It’s in us already — living with greater conection to each other and to nature is about the deepest purpose and meaning of our humanity.


 

1. The 1st Understanding. 

Our People, Our Earth, Us ...  
The very first thing to know, is that nobody really needs this handbook.  If you’re reading this, the truest aspects of an authentic, rewarding and ecologically sustainable life are already within you.  You are already moving in the direction of hOPeTIMISM.  Ideas and ways for a new future are already percolating.  So, follow your heart on this most wonderful journey.  Trust what you feel about your non-human brothers and sisters.  Ultimately, the best sustainable lifestyles and communities will emerge from what comes naturally to us.


As SSA communities do grow and emerge, they are (bio) fuelled and propelled by their own very existance.   They sink their roots into a deep, deep source of nourishment ... which is, two of the most profound realities of our humananity. ... namely, that we need each other and we need nature! 

 
These two absolute truths are deeply, deeply embedded in our species being.  When these two wonderful, authentic aspects of “life’s longing for itself” are re-discovered in our communities, magic happens.  Being evolutionarily structured for survival, as we ourselves and all other species of life on Earth are, just scratch the surface and these two powerful forces will surge back to revitalise us.
Until recently, both have been smothered under five or six decades of materialism, consumption, conflict and a media overload of externally imposed values.  


Firstly, we have been socially atomised then brainwashed into believing that it’s a jungle out there.  In so many ways, this mentality and the competition it spawns, suit the consumption based cash culture.  Secondly, we need to re-discover that we need nature, not just for food, air and water!  We need the Earth because it is beautiful.  Our sanity depends on ecological sustainability.  Some of the deepest experiences and sense of peace and meaning in our lives comes from the Earth.


The rediscovery of both the power of joining together and the power that caring for (or re-uniting with)  nature can have on who we are and how we feel … creates an energy within us which represents the “Earth’s immune response kicking in”!   Bringing social connection and the joy of nature back into our lives and communities creates a seedbed for new, personally rich and meaningful values, which are supremely relevant, because they’re crafted by us.


So.  Take the time to get to feel the SSA and to know it is basically a blank canvas for you and yours to create your sustainable future, thereby having an impact you can scarcely imagine possible on the ecologically sustainable future of the broader community and society ….  


2. The 2nd Understanding. 

The power of social connectedness … on Learning, Change & Growth ...  
The SSA invites us to discover that the passion, ability to engage and knowledge we need are already within us.  This discovery enables us to learn how to learn.  The SSA then invites us to entertain the fact that protecting and enjoying the environment is something we used to do as a matter of course.  This package of social learning, change and growth is the best nourishment, fun and immunisation against “burn out”.


Above all, the SSA conveys that we can do it.  It is as simple as friendly, environmentally focussed gatherings around the kitchen table.  Instead of expecting government, science or industry to “save us”, acknowledge that really, ... we all know what the waste and pollution in our lives looks like.  The doable, human scale and common sense lifestyle choices we make will inevitably be right, because sustainable living just ain’t rocket surgery.


Sustainability Street is not about providing environmental information per se, that’s why Google was invented.  In any case, all the answers are out there already.  It is not about whether we have the information it’s about having the will to get it and apply it.  
The SSA is about principles, concepts, templates and shortcuts … all held together by the  wonderful, intangible building blocks of “community making” and  “learning how to learn.”  These intangibles are key.  We can’t “touch” or “see” or “measure” the intangibles of life ... such things as truth, beauty, friendship, joy.  However, we know they are REAL.  The intangibles are the meaning, the juice, the energy that make something just what it is.  The intangibles provide the wiring for a Sustainability Street Village.


And, enough of your circle is ready!


A vast number of people (the awakening mainstream) want change.  Yet, the oceans of information, political bluster, and increasing eco-brouhaha are not moving us forward adequately.  There are already enough people to make a massive difference to the wasteful, earth phobic culture which runs our society and economy.  Scratch the surface and you’ll find them close by.  People you know who want something true, authentic and ecologically safe in their lives.  Maybe they don’t yet realise that this can derive from having a whole new relationship with each other and with the glorious natural systems of the Earth.  The SSA enables entre` to this discovery.  Just you and couple of others who get this ball rolling are a crucially important part of this social trickle which is gathering to a joyous landslide of change ...


Whether a landslide or a trickle, either way, the aim of the SSA and the job ahead is to craft new habits, norms, taboos, values and behaviours ... through living them.  As Mahatmi Ghandi once said “be the change you want to see in the world”.   We need to come together, to “behave our way into social change.”   The effect and influence of such “modelling” is palpable.  Getting together for a chat is the best way to start designing this new culture for the better world which we know is possible, and which we can already feel emerging.
Be aware that there are millions of us out there, and, even more empowering is that we all have two mighty human traits.  They are ... imagination and common sensea “bottomless source of power” which far outstrips the top-down enviro-info obsession, political bluster and greenwashing sustainamatazz floss.  Everybody has imagination and common sense in varying degrees, we can cultivate them and no one can take them away.


Imagination is key to re-inventing the future.  Common sense empowers us to rescue and re-craft the culture and values which have been hijacked by the madness of modernity.


But, the best and sweetest news is just how close we are!  The marketing and advertising world tell us that only 5% to  15% of a population is needed to become a “critical mass”.  This number is able to create a cultural “tipping point” thus becoming a  defining influence on the whole population.  Extrapoulated, this holds for 5 – 15% of a local community, town, or a nation.  Just ask Nick Christakis ...

 

Dr. Nicholas Christakis!  Harvard University. 

In recent years, Christakis has done groundbreaking research in understandings about our connections to each other.  Quoting the website ...  This research engages two types of phenomena: the social, mathematical, and biological rules governing how social networks form (“connection”) and the biological and social implications of how they operate to influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (“contagion”). http://christakis.med.harvard.edu/ 

Christakis’ work shines a searchlight on what has long been the raison d’etre` of the Sustainability Street Movement - recognising and augmenting the social connectness which is core to our species being.   The Sustainability Streety Institute corresponded with Dr Christakis, who emphasised that … ‘every thing we do affects not just ourselves, and not just our friends and relatives, but also dozens, or hundreds, and sometimes possibly thousands of other people.’ 

On his TED talk, Dr Nick says ... "evolutionarily, our connectedness has been about spreading the good and valuable among ourselves …. and if we understand just how connected we are and that these networks have great value value … we’d spend more time nourishing them".  The Sustainability Street Approach is one way of doing just that.  It is a tool for Civic Invention as Putnam would describe it.  The SSA meets the Rawlston Saul criteria of “common sense” and “a reasonable way forward”.  It is part of the accumulation and trigger effect which has always allowed us to move into the next “epoch” of humam history.  Be very nourished, bouyed and inspired ... by the knowledge that we, in our daily lives, are the midwives of the wonderful, prosperous, clean, green, abundant and authentic epoch which is “knocking on the door”.

 


Ross Garnaut opines …
… facilitating sustainable behaviour change is one of the best options we have for addressing climate change … “Ross Garnaut described the issue of climate change as ‘wickedly complex’.  Understanding human behaviour and the psychology of what motivates people to take action, or not to take action, is arguably even more complex.  Bringing the two together — using behaviour change to tackle climate change is a significant challenge to say the least, but a challenge that we have no choice but to take on. Facilitating  behaviour change for ecological sustainability is one of the best options we have for addressing climate change, working in tandem with, but independent of science, technology and politics and giving individuals and communities a sense of relevance and control”.


So, Garnaut acknowledges that jumping the shy gap and building connections is not necessarily easy … however, it is so worth the effort!  The SSA experience has been that working with others in whatever small way we can is such wickedly complex FUN ... and fullfilment.


This is probably because it is about being involved rather than just being told!  Academics who have studied the SSA describe it as being Transformative rather than Transmissive.  Building Village relationships, learning and local projects have a deep and “life-changing” effect.  Billboards, edicts and reams of information supplied top down can never do this.  The SSA is not about a new body of “information”, so much as it is a new take on using the information already out there, in spades, to enable change through the empowerment of ourselves ... with the support of each other.

 
The Approach has no answers itself.  The SSA can't tell anyone what to do.  The SSA encourages a lateral, creative and self generated responses.   It's about our own take on the entire environment debate, a different way of seeing each other and a new, refreshing re-alignment of the relationships between government, science, commerce, society and we local folk ... through innovative environmental education, sociology, psychology, human ritual and local, human scale “generosity and kindness” toward each other …

 


 

3. The 3rd Understanding:  We can only do what we can do … 
Local, enjoyable and bite-size is a total triumph!  Paul Hawken says, “we only need to be humans, good humans, not heroes”.   One does not have to start a new action group, global peace & green movement or the hot New National eCampaign.  Just connect and act with folks close by. The wisdom of the group will take over and what you all make will be exactly what's needed.  And perfect. 

 


4. The 4th Understanding Small group – big effect!!! 
Know that we have incredible power.  The asymmetrical and apolitical power of local people power and social change is a real game changer.  People power is usually equated with marching in the streets.  Underated is the quiet achievement of we little people and small groups.  The science on the power to influence change that we have is mindboggling.  Totally inspiring.  Like Einstein’s discovery of the immense, Earth shattering power of the smallest particle in nature, we everyday folk and our day to day culture, values, objectives, norms and decisions can also have limitless and global power.  The accumulation of small, transformative and lasting changes in lifestyle and purpose, is inestimably important.   It is said that every letter that is sent to a Politician is deemed to reflect 20 or maybe 30 others … imputed as latent opinion in the wider community that will ultimately manifest as votes!  equally perhaps, it might be extrapolated that every small group of people who choose to create and live in a Sustainability Street Village, reflect what hundreds or even thousands of others are latently feeling and wish to see become more mainstream?  Societal transformation is so often a history of people plugging away, in small community groups, which slowly but surely create the “momentum for monumental change.”    Like the collapse of the Berlin Wall, freedom for Mandela or the US Civil Rights Movement on on hand, or, the clean air anti-tobacco culture, gender equality and respect or the welcome abhorrence of negligent road traffic behaviour.

 


5. The 5th Understanding.  Know that The Time is Right … 
More People Watch Friends on TV, than Have Friends!   Says US Sociologist Robert Putnam, whose research shows that our cohesion, grouping, bonding and sense of belonging is breaking down in modern society.  We have become “socially atomised” and it is having a negative effect on our health and on our communities in terms of safety, crime and support.   Putnam famously suggested that in America, more people watch ‘Friends’ than have friends – perhaps here in Australia, the corollary might be, that more people watch ‘Neighbours’ than talk to the neighbours.  Putnam speaks of building ‘social capital’ through ‘Civic Invention’ that is, creating new, relevant and meaningful reasons to come together and enjoy each other’s company.  Creating a Sustainability Street Village is an example of Civic Invention which is historically relevant, deeply rewarding and becomes a blueprint for others.


John Rawlston-Saul speaks of re-engaging the individual with public life through a judicious mix of values, common sense and the idea of a reasonable way forward, in preference to being driven by ideology.    We hear often these days of ‘poll driven governments’ all around the world.  In the 1970’s, French Sociologist Alain Tourraine put the view that in many ways, governments and industries are followers not leaders.  They are moved to initiative and action based on the ‘pull from community.’  Tourraine spoke of an inherent community evolution and growth process.  He suggests that society Transcends itself through its own day to day, week-to-week funictioning.  Our society and culture are in a state of constant change.  It is guided by the “consciousness” it has of itself and manifest through social movements ... large and small.  

And, from the South American brains trust, we have Chilean economist/sustainability thinker, Manfred Max Neef, who talks of the need for life to return to being ‘human scale.’  Max Neff likened a human scale method for change to a swarm of mosquitoes that can bring down a mighty rhinoceros ... because the swarm is united, persistent, annoying and has no leader to be picked off.   His book ‘Human Scale Development’ explores the concept of a re-evaluation of human needs, seeking to counter the “logic” of economics with the ethics of wellbeing.  

Live Ten Healthy Years Longer! says Prof. Lisa Berkman, a social epidemiologist based in the United States.  Her studies of populations have found that a basic level of social connectedness can be extraordinarily beneficial to health.  She proves that “being more connected” can add as much as ten healthy years to lifespan.  But then, deep down, we know this eh?  Can there be anything more delightful than spending time with good people? 

 

Dr. Nicholas Christakis!  In recent years, Christakis has done groundbreaking research at Harvard, about the astounding degree to which we are all connected. On his TED talk, Dr Nick says ... evolutionarily, our connectedness has been about spreading the good and valuable among ourselves …. and if we understand just how “latently” connected we are, and that these networks have great value … we’d spend more time nourishing them.  

 

Our own wonderful, cuddly Proffessor Ross Garnaut opines, that … facilitating sustainable behaviour change is one of the best options we have for addressing climate change …  “Garnaut describes the issue of climate change as ‘wickedly complex’.  Understanding human behaviour and the psychology of what motivates people to take action, or not to take action, is arguably even more complex.  Bringing the two together — using behaviour change to tackle climate change is a significant challenge to say the least, but a challenge that we have no choice but to take on. Facilitating sustainable behaviour change is one of the best options we have for addressing climate change, working in tandem with, but independent of science, technology and politics and giving individuals and communities a sense of relevance and control”.

 

Lastly, the world's most nourishing, poetical, inspiring, and visionary storyteller of the future we are creating right now, Paul Hawken, totally captures what you've been feeling, in his magnificent book - Blessed Unrest.  How the Largest Movement the World came into Being, and Why No One Saw it Coming.  See the wee YouTube; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1fiubmOqH4

 

So, be very joyed, bouyed, delighted  and excited ... by the knowledge that we, in our daily lives are the midwives of the wonderful, prosperous, clean, green, abundant, fulfilling and authentic epoch which is “knocking on the door”.

 

 

 

 

The SSA is not ideological or political in any traditional way.  It is a local, social and very human scale approach to organising together to achieve mutually defined objectives.  It is an approach which has seen amazing accomplishments by people — such as one beacon SSA Village who achieved an amazing 49% greenhouse gas reduction.  (this research by Victoria University also shows so much more than just the 49% and is available on the website.)   We-thinks that this results more through the inspiration and encouragment of people working closely together rather than through any information in the SSA per se!   Except perhaps, that the SSA is totally about inspiring and envouraging each other. 

The Approach is relevant to and controlled by us because it’s about our day to day lives, our future, our homes and local places.  And an SSA Village is relevant to and owned by us, because it is a blank canvas for our imagination and for what our common sense tells us is obvious.  Basically it’s up to us to just get out and do it … and the good news is that relevance and control becomes oh so deliciously self propelling and inspiring.  It is so unbelievably satisfying as we take “charge” of the most important challenge in human history.
The Approach began in the Cities of Moreland and Wollongong in 2002.  Since then over 200 local communities across Australia have used the SSA to reconnect with their neighbours, learn even more (we each already know and feel heaps) about the Earth and about living more ecologically sustainably together.   Jason, a seminal Sustainability Street sage, once observed that, “eventually, Sustainability Street can shift from being something a community does … to becoming something a community is.” The SSA anables us to support and inspire each other to accomplish wonderful things for our beautiful Planet, accomplishments which we rightly become deeply proud of.  Participants consistently report three wonderful outcomes …

    1. Reduction in “ecological footprint,” with 25 – 35% (and much more in some villages) reduction in waste, water and energy consumption.  Importantly all of this in the context of knowing about and making personal reconnection with the Earth’s magical, precious biological diversity.
    2. Enormous pride at having conceived and carried out local sustainability projects together including education events, community gardens, knocking over the back fences to create mutual space for play, chooks, food, etc
    3. Perhaps above all, folks report a deep, deep sense of satisfaction at have having made new friends and connections in the very local place in which they live.  That really counts!


The SSA is not a spoonfeeding,  font of information.  Getting whatever information you need is why those kids invented Google.  Neither is it about a one off campaign on an issue  which is not to say that  “campaigns” can’t be part of Village life.  The priority however, is to create a Sustainability Street Village of social, supportive and like minded coneections. The Village, by its very existance is a living, constant force for re-shaping the old culture which has constantly generated the need for issues based campaigns.  By creating both long term lifestyle change and by recognising the power of modelling a different way of living in our Sustainability Street Villages, we influence others and eventually the wider community and the whole society.  The great dream of Sustainability Street is to actually make the need for campaigns per se increasingly redundant.

The Sustainability Street Approach is totally about education and the idea that we will all need to keep learning about how to live in greater harmony with the Earth for the rest of our lives.  Not in an arduous or high brow manner.  More because education, learning and self/group transformation is the crucible of culture change.  And, it is simply the most deeply satisfying experience that humans can have.  As Rose from Randwick City’s Clovelly Childcare Centre Sustainability Street Village said – “I don’t feel that my life is interesting unless I’m learning something.”  What better thing to “master”, than helping each other to help the Earth?

One by one of us and our communities, the effect on society and culture can be so contagious and powerful.   Dr. Nicholas Christiakos, author of “Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do,” ... is one of the new breed of thinkers and sociologists who is passionate about human connections, relationship and their potential power for good.   The Sustainability Street Institute has recently corresponded with Dr. Christiakos who said to us … ‘every thing we do affects not just ourselves, and not just our friends and relatives, but also dozens, or hundreds, and sometimes possibly thousands of other people.’

The biggest thing to get our heads around is that the community making, social change and culture crafting  is the deeper meaning and purpose of the Sustainability Streeet Approach. Just as optimism is a choice, we can equally choose to believe in and be energisedn by the nature of and extent to which we can influence others.  This shapes how the world evolves and transforms.  Your Sustainability Street Village is a blank canvas for a new way of living which can both directly or indirectly, quietly and effectively change the world.
The Sustainability Street Approach is unique in that it provides a framework for viewing our lives from a fundamentally different vantage point.  By moving past the old way of thinking, we can view the entire environmental debate, the government, commerce, society, and each other in more productive and fruitful ways.  Essentially, Deep Sustainability and Dynamic Capacity Building combined with the SSA “Structure for Change” – 1•2•4•8•5•2•3 – are the tools.

Celebrated American Civil Rights hero, Malcolm X, said … “I for one believe … that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them … and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.”

 

Ch 6:


From the heart, stuff to feel …  Especially your dream!

  

Think “Community Making” for the Earth.  The social way to

sustainability is a release for the passion you feel … which has

potentially limitless benefit for ecological sustainability. 

So, reach out to others … it takes a bit of courage ... but suck it up,

do the work, say g’day, be bigger than shy. 

Prepare a wee “over the fence” chat about how you feel – your concern,

your passion … and your big, positive and optimistic dream. 

Especially your dream!

 



The Oscar Award winning film, “If You Love This Planet” was created in the 1980s by Australia’s Dr. Helen Caldicott.  Helen has forever been a tireless anti-nuclear camapigner speaking of the medical consequences of nuclear war.  At the time of her film, the “doomsday clock” was at one minute to midnight!  The world was on the edge, at the height of the nuclear weapons annihalation threat.  In trying to convey the enormity of the nuclear age,  Caldicott speaks eloquently of her difficulty, as a pediatrician, in telling parents that their child had a terminal illness, or otherwise poor prognosis.  She felt that she would “question the sanity” of any parent who did not show emotion upon being told such news.


So much of the news we are receiving about the Earth is as serious as any news we’re likely to hear in our lifetime.  Emotion and passion are an absolutely sane response to the Earth’s plight.  Passion is first base for clear, optimistic, practical and, ironically, given the seriousness of the news, joyful decisions about our lives and community.  Emotion then connects us with our higher order human capacities such as empathy, intuition and sense of justice.  This potent mix can then lead to great local social action, planning and pragmatic movement forward.

 
Above all, we have permission to “feel in our hearts” that this is the most correct thing to do.   Historians will review this time, our time and declare it to be the “social turning point” which saved the planet.  The future is now

Deep down, we absolutely know that our culture and  the future must change from being driven by the careening behemoth of Stuff•Dollar•Consumption•More Stuff•Shallowness.  Of course jobs, the economy, things and maybe even a tiny bit of special stuff, will be a part of that future.  However, the extent to which they are shaped by ecological sustainability, will be the extent to which we can “live” with them.

 
This new economy, society and culture are already shaping up to be sublime and exciting.  There is so much optimism, so many clever, practical and very real initiatives already underway!  They promise prosperity and abundance, of the authentic, sustainable variety.  Go google Blessed Unrest, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1fiubmOqH4) BioMimicry and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

 

Chapter 4:

Peak Oil For Sure.
Plus Peak Water, Peak Soil, Peak Waste … & … Peak Cute and Cuddly!

Have we thought through the loss of the “cute and cuddly” creatures?  Cute is hardly a scientific or ecological term, yet the “intangibles” are the very juice of our lives and culture.  Do we realise what the loss the creatures and their wilderness will have on our soul, the spirit of humanity?   Can the heroes of our poetry, art and children’s stories disappear?   Really, how can we be so close to losing TIGERS?  Or Bandicoots? Or Dugong?   Or … anything … forever?

 


 

“Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our Mother. What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. If we spit on the Earth we spit on ourselves. We people did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it. What we do to the web we do to ourselves. This we know. Like the blood that unites one family, we too are a part of the Earth.”
Chief Seattle,
In a letter to the US President; C 1850

 

 


 

The focus on climate disruption, global warming, , peak oil, and the utilitarian responses of transition and adaptation to these human induced ecological phenomena is thoroughly understandable.  It’s about survival.  However, is it also about acquiesence?  Sustainability Commissioner for Victoria, Ian McPhail, described it as “creeping normalcy”.  In other words, before working to reduce consumption to prevent the problem, humans are cleverly able to re-tool, rationalise and adjust plans to meet the new contingency.  Or at least those of us in the wealthy, western industrialised societies of the world population are.  However, it is certain that the biggest losers from climate change and disruption will be the poor of the planet.
Equally, the powerless species of the intertidal zones and mangrove areas will also be hit very hard by sea level change.  As will the land plants and animals of the ecologically unique and richly diverse south west of Western Australia for who southward migration to “adapt” to warming means learning to swim in the Southern Ocean.  Our culture of “creeping normalcy” ignores that all other species and natural systems have an innate right to survival.  It is innane because in fact, it is absolutlely possible live perfectly well on a fraction of the carbon we have stuffed into our lives.  We can also remove the carbon.  We can reduce and we can remove – but we can not return a species of life which is lost to extinction.  
Resources or Services? We constantly hear about Peak Oil, a term which is based on the “resources” conception of nature!  The resources notion also sees forests, oceans and the water that falls from the sky as commodities for us to buy and sell.  Yet, the life enabling biological-services, not resources, provided by nature, such as oxygen, clean water and soil for food, are worth many trillion$ of dollar$, but unlike oil, don’t figure in the national accounts.  
Instead of peak oil, perhaps we should be talking about peak culture, which has now given us & peak water, peak waste, peak species, etc.  Can the dig-it-up, use-it, dump-it culture get any closer to peak insanity?  The antidote surely, is to passionately re-connect with nature and to feel a one-ness with natural systems and a spurning of what the deep ecologists call duality.  The idea that we are separate from the Earth, somehow independent of or more important than other forms of life and natural systems.  It is a notion captured well by Chief Seattle, who wrote these words ...
Mother Nature Loves Us,
Despite Our Track Record
One day, our sun, will run its course, begin to fizzle, turn into a Super Nova and then be gone, forever.  It’s not likely to happen this week, but it will happen.  That is the way the Universe works.  Equally, we should never forget, that actually, the Earth itself will survive despite the worst we can do to it.  Coakroaches post a “nulear obliteration for instance.  So, perhaps all of this is not so much about ‘saving the Earth’ as it is about ‘saving the humans’.  This movement is more about changing our mad, modern culture, so that we can continue to enjoying the sublime achievements of human culture of milenia.   So we can go on respecting, enjoying and living in harmony with the Earth for countless millennia of generations to come.  Apart from the sheer joy, tranquillity, amazement, unforgettability, sharing, inspiration, humour, colour, sparkle, subtlety, depth and balance which derives from experiencing nature, it is even possible to develop a personal friendship with nature.  A relationship.  Like someone to lean on, a friend to go to think things through with, a place to celebrate, a mate who lets you rest, an extension of your own family and clan, who will always be there for you. It is possible to think of nature relationship as being as important as any relationship in your life.  And as with any relationship we must cultivate it and strenthen it by spending time together.
And, Surprise, Surprise! Nature’s An  Elixir!
The wellbeing of humanity and the earth are directly related.  Appreciating our coexistence with the environment will promote sustainable behaviours which take care of both humans and the Earth. Mardie Townsend, from Deakin University, wrote an article in ‘Eingana: the Journal of the Victorian Association for Environmental Education’ that focused on the interdependent relationship between the wellbeing of the Earth and the wellbeing of humanity.  The article, titled ‘Civic Environmentalism: Linking Ecosystem Sustainability and Human Health’, analysed research done by the NiCHE (Nature, Community, Health and Environment) group at Deakin University’s School of Health and Social Development.  
The NiCHE project examined the physical, mental and spiritual enhancements which derive from human engagement with the environment.  Each initiative linked ecological and human health goals, promoting environmental awareness by reconnecting humans with nature and with each other. Townsend discovered that participants involved in civic environmental projects reported:
• Fewer trips to the doctor,
• Feeling safer in their community,
• Having a greater sense of belonging in their community and
• Having more opportunities to utilize their skills.
When planning for the future, it is important to focus on positive initiatives that promote hands-on interaction with the environment.  Humanity needs to reconnect with the earth in order to remain in good health.  The Sustainability Street Approach promotes a cultural transformation embracing a holistic people-planet relationship.  Sustainability Street communities actualise their own positive health by combining environmental education and community interaction in ways unique to their natural environment and location. With a little laughter, creativity, understanding, and hands-on activity, the future for Sustainability Streeters is a green and healthy one.  
Researched & written by - Jen Superson, from the USA, while on an internship with Vox.