New Jersey Learns Case Stories

What What is going on in your neighborhood?

A very special thanks to the Geraldine Dodge Foundation

Contributors:
Produced and Edited by: Leah Mayor Interviews conducted by Cloud Institute Interns: Dayyan Armstrong, Eliza Kenigsberg, and Megan Browning Art Designer: Marie-Claire Munnelly The New Jersey Learns Participants who shared their work and their stories.

A Special Thanks to:
A very special thanks to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for making the New Jersey Learns Program a Reality.

The Cloud Institute 2009. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter 1

Overview of New Jersey Learns Power to Educate for Change Leader Profile: Todd Menadier Change Starts With Us Leader Profile: Mark Loeser The Problem Solving Approach to Sustainability, Leader Profile: Stacey Kennealy

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

To Understand A Place Leader Profile: Angela Clerico Making Sustainability Relevant Leader Profile: Tina Weishaus

Chapter 5

Introduction
New Jersey Learns for a Sustainable Future is a leadership training program designed and facilitated by Jaimie Cloud, President of The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education. The program was developed to contribute to a shared understanding of sustainability, and to provide tranformative learning opportunities for participants. Through the New Jersey Learns Leadership Training, we are building an incredible network of schools and communities to learn together for a sustainable future. Before a sustainable future can be realized, it must be widely envisioned. Our goal is to share a hopeful vision for a sustainable future and connect schools and communities to build that vision together. Story telling is one way to promote our ongoing work to link schools and communities. And to inspire young people to think about the world, their relationship to it, and their ability to influence it in an entirely new way. In telling these stories we can share our strategies, practices, and pedagogies Educating for Sustainability.

The Power to Educate for Change

Who: Todd Menadier Occupation: Technical High School Teacher Location: Bloomfield, NJ What: created the Green Energy Academy

“ I got up and asked people to come to my classroom for fifteen minutes after school...”
Todd Menadier is a high school science teacher at Bloomfield Technical High School in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Todd recently created the Green Energy Academy, an alternative Science Program that has students focus on alternative energy and sustainability through science. He hopes to expand this curriculum throughout Bloomfield Technical High school to promote Education for Sustainability. Todd is among the twenty four participants, representing nine different communities, working with The Cloud Institute to lead New Jersey toward sustainability through education. As a physical science teacher, Todd is in a strategic position to link youth to long-term sustainability through education. His recent efforts with the school and faculty reflect many of the Cloud Institute’s goals for developing this training for educators including inspiring educators and community members to educate for sustainability and creating strategic partnerships between schools and communities to learn and live sustainably. Prior to joining NJ Learns, Todd had a strong personal interest in sustainability and had already integrated this interest into his science education. His Sustainable Energy course introduces students to harnessing and delivering solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative technologies. As other teachers began to take note of the work he was doing in this science course, there was a growing interest in making the school a Green School. But, as he describes, “there were difficulties there. We don’t have anything green here, we don’t even recycle.” Administrators and faculty discussed the ideas of putting up banners and “telling other people what to do to make the school green.” The emerging discussion led Todd to see an opportunity to leverage the interest in sustainability and bring about real change in his school.

At a staff meeting Todd explains , “I got up and asked people to come to my classroom for fifteen minutes after school. I couldn’t believe it, we only have 42 faculty and 17 people showed up. It is hard enough to get teachers to stay after school. That is why I said fifteen minutes. And they stayed for two hours. I talked about green jobs and said that we should educate for green jobs. Then, I asked them, ‘where do we think we are going without the children?’ So, I used a lot of the the ideas and slides from the NJ Learns training and everything that I learned from Cloud.” Todd created a shared understanding of sustainability and how to educate for it, and galvanized group support because EfS is going beyond just “going green” into creating communities that learn together to create a sustainable future. New Jersey Learns has focused on the importance of creating a shared understanding of sustainability as a basis to Educate for Sustainability. We bring communities together to think critically about their futures, and act collaboratively to create a desired future. Abraham Lincoln once said that the “best way to predict your future is to create it.” And, with the clear intent to create a sustainable future, NJ learns targets schools, teachers, and community leaders to educate youth to understand the concepts of sustainability and mobilize their communities for change. Todd discussed the program in one of our conversations, “I think it really lit a fire… There is very little sense of community in our school. So, people were excited to hear about something, people really grabbed onto this idea. This green stuff is everywhere and people really want to know about it. Now, people want to know that this is a green school and what that entails. That is going to be the hard part. They were so excited to be a part of something new. There just aren’t a lot of schools doing this. Plus, we’re in an urban environment and we can really make a difference. Our next step is an awareness campaign. And this will be tricky. A lot of people want to tell other people what to do. But, I think we need to educate people how to do it so that it makes sense, they have awareness, and they just do it. Central to this idea of education is bringing people together to share in a desire to generate change within their schools that ripples out to their communities. Good education creates good citizens and the power of Education for Sustainability allows people, as Todd explained, to “go beyond climate change and recycling and instead to generate shared understanding that leads to action.”

What is Todd Doing in His School?
The learning and action that Todd has seen in just a few short months has been profound. He continues to teach his Sustainable Energy course while focusing on integrating sustainability into his chemistry course as a way to teach students that what they know and what they do has a powerful impact on their communities that goes beyond the state of New Jersey. For example, “we just started a recycling campaign for cell phones. But the students don’t just have to recycle the cell phones, they actually get points for understanding the chemistry behind landfills and why they have to recycle their cell phones instead of putting them into landfills.” He has also integrated sustainability into his chemistry course through “the creation of soaps, lotions, and paints using sustainable and organic materials. I just purchased The Natural Paint Book which has recipes for non-toxic, long lasting, durable paints that I’m hoping to make and share with the Art Dept and use in projects around the school. I’m really excited and hoping to get the materials and the process started soon. My class room could really use a fresh coat.” Todd’s work is just one of the examples of how great, engaged education can spark schools and communities to learn together to create a sustainable community. Aligning his commitment to sustainability to New Jersey Learns has helped him to spark his school to educate for it, as he describes, “I already knew about sustainability before, I had already started the sustainable energy program but [NJ Learns training] has given me the power to educate for it.”

*Image source: http://i.treehugger.com/images/2007-2-15/top_green_jobs_career_build.jpg. 2009

Change Starts with Us

Who: Mark Loeser Occupation: Account Manager Location: Brown Mills, NJ What: Gives trainings on energy and sustainability

“ I see my greatest role as contributing to the talk of sustainability through my personal life and grassroots organizations. ”
Mark W. Loeser is a resident of Browns Mills, New Jersey. He has a background in environmental science and works as an account manager for New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program. Since his participation with the 2008 New Jersey Learns training Mark has given lectures throughout New Jersey on topics of Education for Sustainability. He is an active member of Sustainable Cherry Hill (www. sustainablecherryhill.org), determined to educate for sustainability regionally in hope that this movement will cause a paradigm shift in the mindset of all citizens.

What is Mark Doing in His Community?
“Since I started with the NJ Learns program, I have joined the group Sustainable Cherry Hill. Together, with other members in NJ Learns and Sustainable Cherry Hill, we have organized and conducted several training programs and have given many presentations around the state to municipalities, to public and private interest groups and to other sustainability oriented community groups. What we try to do through Sustainable Cherry Hill is empower local constituencies to enact environmentally positive practices and principles. We educate the community on practical, cost-effective ways to develop a sustainable path into the future. We hope that in the near future, legislation and practices will change to balance out our ecology and the economy to satisfy our long-term needs for a healthy society. In my work, I am really trying to plant the seeds to transform people’s thinking around sustainability. I have always been aware of the principles of sustainability. There is a growing awareness of people who do not necessarily know about these principles which makes it easy for us to spread these teachings to fellow community members. My coworkers have been very receptive to the sustainability trainings I have given to them.

I have noticed that every time I talk about sustainability, nobody says, “no, sustainability is wrong.” I think there is a general consensus that there needs to be a shift in the way we conduct ourselves as a global society. I use the recent financial crisis and the big bailout (September, 2008) as an example of our interdependence for the need of a shift in our mental models. The bailout really exemplified an unsustainable process in the financial markets and people really get that. If we continue to act in our own self-interests, failure is inevitable. The recent financial crisis really sets precedence for the change that we need to be apart of; there was a process that was really not sustainable and people see that and can relate to that reality. What we are doing to overcome that now is to understand that we cannot use the same method that got us in this situation, to get us out of it. We have challenges that we are faced with, these situations are real, and like I said, I have never seen anyone deny this understanding. We cannot continue doing what we are doing without major consequences.

Preparing for the Future
I see my greatest role as contributing to the talk of sustainability through my personal life and grassroots organizations. We can only hope that all this talk will amount to something substantive on the legislative level. We need to see people on both sides of the table make the realization that we cannot continue what we are doing without major consequences, our society will just not work. There has to be a lot of push to see this through on a mass scale, we cannot let our guard down and slip back to our old way of living. We have to reinvest in our infrastructure throughout our country and throughout the world. It is the only way we can sustain ourselves and prepare us for the future. There has to be a shift in our mentality. While we all have to change our attitudes and actions regarding sustainability there is only so much one individual can do to change a culture. But if we bond as citizens, change will be made to be more sustainable.”

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The Power to Educate for Change

Who: Stacey Kennealy Occupation: Director of GreenFaith Location: New Brunswick, NJ What: Helps organizations become environmental leaders

“ ...whether or not we can create sustainable communities is hinged upon correct problem identification”
“I am Director of Sustainability at Greenfaith, an interfaith environmental organization that works with congregations, religious schools and communities of all faiths to help them become environmental leaders. We build this leadership and awareness in a number of ways. We preach and speak about religiouslybased environmental stewardship, and we teach clergy how to do the same. We help institutions green their facilities, through energy audits, recycling and green cleaning programs, solar energy installations and other actions that reduce an institution’s environmental footprint. We teach and promote advocacy around environmental justice, or the idea that low-income and minority communities are disproportionately burdened by environmental problems. We do a lot of work on the ground in New Jersey, and we also have two national programs. Our Fellowship Program is a comprehensive education and training program to prepare lay and ordained leaders for religiously based environmental leadership. Our Certification Program is an interfaith environmental certification program for congregations; it provides a roadmap to help institutions complete substantial and significant actions and education in relation to the environment. The New Jersey Learns Leadership Program gave me a better understanding of systems thinking and the processes needed to address environmental problems. These ideas are really at the core of sustainability—whether or not we can create sustainable communities is hinged upon correct problem identification. Prior to the Cloud training, I hadn’t thought about sustainability in those terms. The Cloud Institute provided the needed missing piece, which has really helped me in my work. The New Jersey Learns Program has helped me understand how to address systems thinking and problem solving in the presentations I give and the programs I design for Greenfaith. Particularly with regards to the Fellowship

Program, I want to give the Fellows these skills to help them do their work more effectively and better developed. Green Faith has three core missions: Spirit, Stewardship, and Justice. Spirit involves religious education, worship services and spiritual practices that promote environmental stewardship. Stewardship involves practical sustainability actions and education, particularly in reference to the greening of facilities. Justice focuses on education and advocacy related to environmental justice. Since those are our three core missions, our Fellowship Program has three retreats, each focused on one of the missions. The Fellowship retreat in November 2008 focused on stewardship and sustainability. I wanted to give the Fellows the Cloud Institute material to provide a framework for practical actions, and to help them think about the thinking that underlies these issues. Many of the Fellows think about sustainability in reference to practical environmental actions, such as recycling programs or the purchase of Fair-Trade coffee, but they don’t always use a systems thinking or problem-solving approach in their work. I set up an hour and a half long lecture and we did the diminishing resource game (the chair game) and I discussed systems thinking and community indicators. I talked about indicators as one measure of progress and gave examples of three communities. I highlighted New Jersey’s Sustainable State Institute, Sustainable Lawrence and Sustainable South Bronx. I talked about the community indicators developed by each of these groups, and how those goals and indicators have helped them on their path toward sustainability.

What is the Relationship Between Faith-based Groups and Education for Sustainability?
I think a lot of faith based groups understand environmental issues in terms of particular topics that are addressed one at a time. For example, they may develop energy conservation practices to save money. Then if they are interested in water conservation they will implement a few activities, with perhaps a little education thrown in. It is not a systematized approach. They don’t necessarily think of the overall picture-how the whole system is working and how all of these topics are tied in together. Similar to the general population, they tend not to question the thinking

that causes us to have water problems or energy problems in the first place. I wanted to give the Cloud material to the Fellows because I thought it was very good theory to have on hand and it is very applicable to the sustainability initiatives in their own communities. About five years ago I graduated from Rutgers University where I studied environmental policy and ecology. However, neither my policy nor ecology classes really addressed the topic of sustainability. In order to gain this experience, I did hands-on projects after I graduated. Over time, I realized that, in practice, sustainability works very similarly with religious institutions as secular institutions. However, I find that I like working with religious groups better—I can actually speak about the moral imperative to live sustainably, which is something I can rarely discuss with secular environmental groups. In my current work I can affirm that stewardship is something we are called to do by our Creator, no matter his/her name. It is written in the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and all other sacred texts. Environmental stewardship is a universal calling for religious groups. Once these communities understand this calling, they quickly act to live out those values. They come to GreenFaith for guidance, and to learn more about the ways in which their religion speaks to these issues. My area of expertise is sustainability, the practical and scientifically-based actions institutions can make. We also have an Episcopal Priest on staff, as well as a Rabbi, and they teach many of the theological ideas to our constituents. Even though environmental stewardship has been in sacred texts for thousands of years, religious groups have more recently become activated around these issues. The religious environmental movement is very new and religious groups often don’t know where to start, what the key issues are, or how to make the connection between religion and the environment. They need to start with very basic background information. They often begin with the understanding that stewardship is a religious concern, and then they may learn the practical steps towards sustainability that they can take within their congregation. From there, they should learn the Cloud Institute material so that they can understand these issues on a deeper level, and more effectively teach sustainability concepts to their members.

I hope the EfS concepts can help our constituents better understand the fundamental principles of sustainability. Without understanding these basic ideas, we are just developing interesting initiatives and not creating long term systemic change. We can’t go about sustainability addressing individual issues one at a time and not examine the whole system. Once this concept is understood, sustainability becomes an ever expanding process instead of a destination.”

To Understand a Place

Who: Angela Clerico Occupation: Land-Use Planner Location: Highland Park, NJ What: Trains planners to work in communities that want to move towards sustainability

“ I see my work as engaging people in conversation about sustainability and planning”
Angela Clerico is a land-use planner in New Jersey the chair of the Sustainability Committee for the New Jersey Planning Association. Through her work as a planner and her work with New Jersey Learns for a Sustainable Future she has worked to train planners to work in communities that are asking for more sustainable guidelines. “My goal was to plant the seed of what sustainability meant and what it could be. I went through the New Jersey Learns training.... So I had a different perspective of sustainability and I wanted to share it. There are a lot of progressive environmentalists in New Jersey who understand sustainability. But, my approach was to get people to talk about the concept of sustainability. Sustainability, in this light is a mind shift. And I was hoping to get my community members to change their understanding of the purpose of their work. It is a way of understanding that doesn’t categorize things but seeks to preserve the system. The land must be preserved as a whole system. For me, this is the purpose and why I am doing what I am doing. As I thought about how to introduce the topic of an environmental town plan, I thought, we should have a conversation about carrying capacity. We should have a conversation about how much our community can actually handle. I wanted to discuss how our impact on the land and the effects the system around it socially, environmentally, and economically. I wanted to present The Fish Game (that I learned through NJ Learns) as a way to get people to interact and become part of the project. This program has been a good way for me to connect with my peers who are also interested in sustainability. I have definitely been forming

relationships with other peers who are interested in the topic.

Lessons Learned
We have to look at [each community] as a part of a system insofar as we must understand how a stream for example affects the woodlands, the wildlife, the topography of a region. From there, we have to figure out how to create some kind of regulating language to protect that area. It is a difficult task to build and develop in a way that fits with the natural landscape. There are so many factors involved in land-use planning. The lesson here is that we must understand the place, where it came from and what it has evolved into because nothing stays the same, nothing is static. For example, if there is a stream that we are trying to protect and prevent building around it, we must understand that a stream constantly moves. If we are regulating a stream based on its location, the stream may one day move in close proximity of a development and it becomes difficult to regulate and forecast its movements. We must put ourselves squarely within the systems that we design, especially when we are developing ordinances. People do not put themselves in the models that they create. I see my work as engaging people in conversation about sustainability and planning. I see myself engaging in this work because you can’t tell people to have that framework. They have to come to it on their own. “

Making Sustainability Relevant

Who: Tina Weishaus Occupation: volunteer Location: Highland Park, NJ What: Gives free global warming presentations to schools and other

“ ...any problem you are trying to solve, you can do it sustainability.”
Tina was trained by Al Gore to conduct trainings on global warming issues. She frequents schools and other organizations that invite her to do a free presentation on global warming. Locally, she is also a part of the Highland Park Green Communities Working Group Commission that works with the town on issues to improve energy conservation and waste reduction. She is dedicated to reducing waste, promoting recycling, and taking steps toward sustainability in her neighborhood and beyond. When comparing environmental education with education of sustainability, we learned that sustainability is much broader, more of a world view than environmental education. It includes the whole environment and anything you are teaching, any problem you are trying to solve, you can do it sustainably. We want to bring sustainability into our communities but we want to make it relevant, through particular activities that people can do. You want people to integrate sustainability but they don’t necessarily have the perspective of thinking sustainably, through systems. People generally want to do something concrete. We went to the PTO meeting to talk about school lunch and creating a better environment in the lunchroom where things can operate a little more sustainably. We tried to talk concretely about developing a sustainable lunchroom. It is hard to talk abstractly unless the whole school is in an accord and are committed to rethinking the system dynamics and see how each part interacts with one another and rethink the institution as a collective and restructure the existing framework, then you will be taking everything very piecemeal. Piecemeal isn’t bad, it’s just not the goal.

Patience, Patience, Patience
I was the liaison to the school system because I was the PTO president for many years at the high school I met with the superintendent and talked about the action that the school district was responsible for and urged them to develop a better system. For example, their recycling program was really not working so it took about a year and a half to shape it up to a well functioning system. But that is a really long time to develop. It took a year an a half to get grants to buy the larger containers, to secure places on the property where they can keep the recycling until the trucks up, interior bins for the students to use. It was really fascinating how long it took to get it to what it is today, and there were a lot of people working on it too! We are currently talking about creating a sustainable lunchroom, and creating a school garden that are discrete and concrete projects that people can do that will change the nature of how people see their environment and communicate sustainability through these smaller projects, my goal is to create a macro view through micro actions. In a sense, we are doing it very piecemeal but it is working. Highland Park is a small town of about 13,000 people and it is a walking town, meaning you can walk almost everywhere. It is a very liberal town, a town where the average community member is very active in political, environmental, sustainable and many other social concerns. It is a very open town and welcomes new innovative ideas that will help better our town in general but it is sometimes difficult to get people excited about any one project. I think this town, with all its support from the mayor and other groups such as the Green Communities Working Group Commission, will continue to help create a sustainable Highland Park community. So we are a little different in that when an initiative gets started, many community members jump on board, but people can get overworked because we all have busy lives outside our activism. At this point I think it just comes down to the question of time, how fast things happen. “

* Image source: http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/112907/sxEastBrunswickSynHosts.jpg. 2009

WHAT’S YOUR STORY? If you would like to share your story, please follow the following format (template also found at www.cloudinstitute.org) and submit a WORD file to Leah Mayor at leah@ cloudinstitute.org. Name: Date: Affiliation (Organizational): Affiliation (Program) Project/Program Title: Practice Story: Title/Theme (for the reader to think about): 1. What’s your current position? How long you have you been at this position? Can you give me a brief overview of what is it that you do in your work? 2. Can you tell me how you got involved with ______________ program? 3. What attracted you to work with _______________program? What are you most excited/passionate about? 4. Since joining _______________program are there any specific initiatives or projects that you have focused on? 5. Can you tell us your specific role and contributions to this project? Start with the beginning, what’s the first thing that you did? Have there been any turning points for you in this work? Have there been any key relationships that have mattered most? 6. Were there any turning points (for you, your community, your school)? 7. What are the lessons for other program participants and others new to this work and embarking on a similar project? 8. What has been the impact, how many people do you think have been effected by this work, how? 9. What does the project you have told us about tell us about educating for sustainability? 10. If there was one thing that you could change about this project that would really make a difference what would it be? 11. When you think of the future and the work you have talked about here what gives you a sense of hope?

The significant problems we face cannot be solved with the same level of thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

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