Record attendance at the 2017 Sustainable Communities Workshop

Sarasota County had record attendance at the 12th Annual Sustainable Communities Workshop, on Nov. 30 with 183 participants! This is an increase of about 40 percent from last year. We want to thank all of our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and planning committee members that made it successful and inspirational. It was a wonderful day of learning, networking and getting involved in community improvement. We heard positive feedback about the speakers and presentations. The wide range of topics covered in one day made people feel inspired to continue to work towards sustainability improvements in their own lives and community.

Below are additional details on the workshop and what attendees took away from it. Our speaker presentations are now available to view on our workshop website and videos of the speakers will be posted soon. We had 28 amazing speakers, check out the lineup. If you missed it this year, plan on attending in 2018! Sign up for our eNewsletter so you don’t miss future announcements.

Attendee Comments
Commitments to Action
Workshop Sustainability Features
Neighborhood Challenge Winners

Attendee Comments

Here are some examples of what attendees have shared with us:

  • “I really enjoyed the gathering. I think you had some excellent people there and I took the opportunity to meet some people who I hope to partner with in the future.”
  • “Great job! Important topics. Was happy to see the record attendance. We hope it grows even more next year!”
  • “The caliber of both the presenters as well as the participants was amazingly high. A very impressive bunch we – who care about our environment- are bright, articulate and dedicated.”
  • “This is such a great gathering of people and ideas. Thank you for all of the work that went into creating the Sustainable Communities Workshop. All of the topics and speakers were excellent!”
  • “The food was amazing. Not just delicious, but it was so vibrantly healthy, local, some gluten free, etc. And that the tableware was compostable. Such good role modeling! The whole workshop was very professional. And so on time–that was amazing too. Very hopeful.”
  • “As the only annual conference for sustainability leaders in Sarasota County, I believe this Sustainable Communities Workshop plays a vital role in bringing everyone together to exchange information, share the latest developments in the field, and keep strengthening the bonds between us that inspire greater collaboration and help us feel that we are part of a larger whole. Thanks for all that you do!”
  • “I think the greatest aspect of this workshop is actually in the networking, and the connections that you build with like-minded people.”
Commitments to Action

Workshop attendees also learned something new that inspired them to take action. Here are a few examples of what people committed to after the workshop:

  • “1) Be more cognizant of my carbon footprint and set goals to improve it. 2) Spread the word!”
  • “1. Help explain the difference between Equality and Equity to others. 2. Follow the issues shared through organizations like the PEACenter.”
  • “Strengthen my knowledge and facility with solar energy so as to better advocate for it in our community and get involved in the renewable energy and planning task forces.”
  • “Continue to improve personal habits to protect the environment. Backyard farming…will start collecting food waste for compost.”
  • “Look for life cycle data on the food and clothing products I buy, and ask more questions about the ones that don’t have data. Integrate equity measures into the work we do as much as possible.”
  • “1. Collect data on current CO2 footprint, and modify SOPs to reduce waste 2. Research sustainable purchasing options for products we need at work 3. Reduce waste at events (emphasize zero waste, compost/recycling, and carbon neutral options) 4. Make events/outreach/volunteering more accessible to all socio-economic groups. Make more of an effort to go into ALL areas of the community.”
Workshop Sustainability Features

We try to be as sustainable as we can and minimize our impact when organizing the workshop. Here are some environmental stewardship considerations we integrated in planning this workshop:

  • The event was held in a beautiful, resource-conserving building that is USGBC LEED Certified. The preserved wetland on the property serves as a living lab for Girl Scout troops.
  • Food served included locally sourced items, from Worden Farm, Aloe Organics, Florida House, and Mixon Citrus. There were vegetarian and vegan options and the food was supplied by a local Sarasota County Green Business Partner.
  • The tableware was biodegradable and compostable or reusable.
  • All food waste and food service items were composted and taken to 1 Stop Landscape Supply & Yard Waste Recycling Facility.
  • Registration was online, a limited number of agendas were printed this year, and speakers’ presentations are available through the conference website, saving paper and emissions.
  • While we did our best to reduce the impact of the event itself, we also secured a donation of Carbon Credits for 5 metric tons of Carbon dioxide equivalent to ensure the full event is Carbon Neutral. Thank you to Renewable Choice for that donation.
Neighborhood Challenge Winners

At the workshop, we had the chance to recognize ourNeighborhood Challenge Champions.

In February 2017, through the collaborative efforts of Neighborhood Services, UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability and the Sarasota County office of the Florida Department of Health, the first Sarasota County Neighborhood Challenge was launched. Neighborhoods throughout the county were challenged to evaluate and compete to be recognized as the most involved, healthy and sustainable neighborhood in the county. Over the course of nine months, participating neighborhoods completed score cards which evaluated their neighborhoods levels of involvement, sustainability, and health.

The challenge concluded in October, with the top scoring Neighborhood Challenge champions being recognized at a recent County Commission meeting and at the Sustainable Communities Workshop. Congratulations to:

  • Myakka Valley Ranches Improvement Association
  • Arlington Park Neighborhood Association, and
  • Mission Estates Homeowners Association.

Well done, neighbors!

Learn more about our sustainability programs:
Sarasota County Extension and Sustainability



Posted: December 15, 2017

Category: Coasts & Marine, Conservation, Disaster Preparation, Health & Nutrition, Money Matters, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, Water, Wildlife, Work & Life
Tags: Environmental, Equity, Green Building, Pgm_Sustain, Sustainability, Sustainability Spotlight

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