Session One: A Call to Sustainability

17-Year-Old Tells World Leaders to Step Up, Give Her a Future

In this three minute video, 17-year-old Brittany Trilford tells world leaders about the kind of future she wants. Trilford’s video was the winning entry in a 2012 challenge called A Date With History, a challenge sponsored by the climate campaign Tcktcktck, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Climate Nexus.


Systems thinking is a way of approaching problems that asks how various elements within a system — which could be an ecosystem, an organization, or something more dispersed such as a supply chain — influence one another. Rather than reacting to individual problems that arise, a systems thinker will ask about relationships to other activities within the system, look for patterns over time, and seek root causes. One systems thinking model that is helpful for understanding global issues is the iceberg model. Use this exercise to analyze local or global events from a systems thinking framework, as well as to develop multi-level solutions.

Session Two: Ecological Principles

Footprint Network

Global Footprint Network, a 501c (3) nonprofit organization, was established to enable a sustainable future where all people have the opportunity to live satisfying lives within the means of one planet. An essential step in creating a one-planet future is measuring human impact on the Earth so we can make more informed choices. Global Footprint Network aims to accelerate the use of the Ecological Footprint — a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what.

The World at Seven Billion

This nifty little calculator created by the BBC can help you find out how many people were alive when you were born, the current population of your country, your life expectancy, the complicated history of population control, and other interesting population-related information.


How do we become a sustainable civilization? Water shortages, hunger, peak oil, species extinction, and even increasing depression are all symptoms of a deeper problem – addiction to unending growth in a world that has limits. GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth goes way beyond prescribing Band-Aids to slow the bleeding. This film examines the cultural barriers that prevent us from reacting rationally to the evidence current levels of population and consumption are unsustainable.

World Population

In this video by, see just how incredible the growth and expansion of humanity has been over the past 2,000 years.

Beyond 7 Billion

In this interactive Los Angeles Times feature, explore how an exploding population has affected and continues to affect our world.

Human Footprint

In this fascinating video from National Geographic, Elizabeth Vargas delves into an average American’s ecological footprint and literally lays it all out for us to see.

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease

In this blog post, Kelly Slivka explains how the spread of Lyme disease is directly related to changes in ecosystem in interactions between white-footed mice and their predators.

Landscape for Life

Homeowners and gardeners can have an important role in creating environments in their gardens that begin to repair the web of life. Working with nature rather than fighting against it can help you create a landscape that is healthier for you, your loved ones, migratory birds and butterflies, and the planet generally.  Landscape for Life ( is one way you can get started. This website contains a wealth of information, and people can offer classes following their curriculum. The lecture series covers the roles of soil, water, storm water management, plants, and materials chosen to use in a sustainable landscape or garden.

Nine Low-Tech Steps for Community Resilience in a Warming Climate

An article from Rodale meant to start a conversation about the reality of a warming climate and what we can do with our built environment to respond to it in the most realistic and sustainable way.

Biomimicry in Action

In this 2009 TED Talk, Janine Benyus has a message for inventors: When solving a design problem, look to nature first. There you’ll find inspired designs for making things waterproof, aerodynamic, solar-powered and more. Here she reveals dozens of new products that take their cue from nature with spectacular results.


Session Three: Food

Many interesting and informative documentaries on our food system have been filmed in the past few years. Here are just a few worth checking out.


Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens

In this 2010 book, Barbara Pleasant, a master gardener and award-winning gardening writer, explains in simple, straightforward language how to start, maintain, and expand a bountiful vegetable garden in small, manageable spaces. For each plan, Pleasant provides plant and material lists, a plot layout, four-color photographs, and tips for succession planting to keep the garden productive all season long.

The Prince of Wales’ Speech on the Future of Food

Read the transcript here. On May 4, 2011, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, delivered this speech to the Future for Food Conference at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. In it, he advocates for a more sustainable model of food production.

Teach Every Child about Food

In this 2010 TED Talk, Jamie Oliver shares his prize-winning wish:“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

The Story of Bottled Water

The Story of Bottled Water tells the story of manufactured demand — how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industry’s attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces.

Session Four: Community

Transition U.S.

The Transition Movement is a vibrant, grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. It represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people in strengthening their communities against the effects of these challenges, resulting in a life that is more abundant, fulfilling, equitable and socially connected. Transition United States offers ideas to get started in organizing a Transition initiative in your community.

TEDx Talk: Rob Hopkins, “My Town in Transition”

In this 2012 TEDx talk, Rob Hopkins tells the story of his town, Totnes, and all they are doing to transition to a sustainable future, including focusing on local economy and local food.

EcoVillage at Ithaca

Comprising an intentional community and a non-profit educational organization, the project is developing an alternative model for suburban living which provides a satisfying, healthy, socially rich lifestyle, while minimizing ecological impacts.

Intentional Communities: Lifestyles Based on Ideals

Intentional Communities have for many centuries been places where idealists have come together to create a better world. The Fellowship for Intentional Community nurtures connections and cooperation among communitarians and their friends. They  provide publications, referrals, support services, and sharing opportunities for a wide range of intentional communities, cohousing groups, ecovillages, community networks, support organizations, and people seeking a home in community.

Sustainable Communities Online

Formerly known as the Sustainable Communities Network, Sustainable Communities Online was developed by a broad coalition of U.S. organizations to pool information on sustainability to make it more readily accessible to the public.


Shareable is an online magazine that tells the story of sharing by covering the people and projects bringing a shareable world to life, and sharing how-tos so you can make sharing real in your life.


Session Five: Transportation

Complete Streets Make for a Good Ride

The National Complete Streets Coalition has developed a series of fact sheets covering topics such as economic revitalization, climate change, and health. Many of these documents explore the many benefits of complete streets, while others focus more on implementation.

Transportation System Ecology from Gund Institute Vermont

In this video, Dale Azaria brings us into the complex world of transportation issues. Using Chittenden Country, Vermont as a case study, she explores how the arrangement of the built environment in space affects how much travel people need to do. She uses tools like Simulation Modeling and Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) to look at current transportation trends as well as possibilities for where the system may be heading in the future. Dale is a Transportation Scholar at UVM’s Transportation Research Center. Her work focuses on transportation and land use planning.

In Denmark, Pedaling to Work on a Superhighway

Copenhagen has a bicycle superhighway!

UCS: Cars, Trucks and Air Pollution

Along with much other useful information, the Union of Concerned Scientists web site provides information about the impacts of gasoline and diesel fuels.

National Center for Safe Routes to School

The National Center for Safe Routes to School offers guidance for creating walking and bicycling to school programs.

23 and ½ hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

In this nine minute illustrated video, Dr. Mike Evans answers the old question “What is the single best thing we can do for our health?” in a completely new way. Dr. Evans is founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Traffic Explained in Less than Four Minutes

This fun little video, produced by ITDP Mexico, simplifies and explains induced travel demand in under four minutes.


Session Six: Consumption and Economy

Happy Planet Index

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is the leading global measure of sustainable well-being. The HPI measures the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The Index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint to calculate this.

Human Footprint

In this fascinating video from National Geographic, Elizabeth Vargas delves into an average American’s ecological footprint and literally lays it all out for us to see.

Get Less Today!

Find out more about this 100% natural, eco-friendly product that eliminates clutter and reduces waste! Get Less Today!

Track Where Your Stuff Comes From, Down to the Tiniest Part

Your phone came from China, but that’s just the broad strokes. Pieces of it came from all over the world. With this new mapping tool, you can see the supply chain for all of your things.

In Overdressed, Elizabeth Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retailers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals. She travels to cheap-chic factories in China and Bangladesh and looks at the impact (both here and abroad) of America’s drastic increase in imports. She even explores how the pressures of cheap have forced retailers to drastically reduce detail and craftsmanship, making the clothes we wear more and more uniform, basic, and low quality. Cline also shows how consumers can break the buy-and-toss cycle by supporting innovative and stylish sustainable designers and retailers, returning to custom clothing, refashioning clothes throughout their lifetime, and mending and even making clothes themselves.

Session Seven: Visions of Sustainability

The Story of Change

From The Story of Stuff creator Annie Leonard, The Story of Change urges viewers to put down their credit cards and start exercising their citizen muscles to build a more sustainable, just and fulfilling world.

17-Year-Old Tells World Leaders to Step Up, Give Her a Future

In this three minute video, 17-year-old Brittany Trilford tells world leaders about the kind of future she wants. Trilford’s video was the winning entry in a 2012 challenge called A Date With History, a challenge sponsored by the climate campaign Tcktcktck, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Climate Nexus.

Cooler Smarter by The Union of Concerned Scientists

Based on an in-depth, two-year study, Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living (May 2012, Island Press) shows you the most effective strategies for reducing your global warming emissions, and how to take action at work, in your community, and politically. Cooler Smarter challenges you to cut your carbon emissions 20 percent this year and gives you the information you need to succeed.

Small Planet Institute

Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé founded the Small Planet Institute in 2001 to further a historic transition: a worldwide shift from the dominant, failing notion of democracy — as something done to us or for us — toward democracy as a rewarding way of life: a culture in which citizens infuse the values of inclusion, fairness and mutual accountability into all dimensions of public life. They call this kind of democracy Living Democracy. From the Institute’s first book, Hope’s Edge, and all that have followed, the Small Planet Institute reveals how people on every continent are creating living democracies as they discover their power to remake societal rules and norms to serve their widely shared values.