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Workshop to foster a sustainable community by “Transforming to New Ways Forward”

Registration is now open for Sarasota County’s 15th Annual Sustainable Communities Workshop. The online event is scheduled for Thursday, October 29 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. to showcase strategies for healthy, resilient, thriving communities.

About the workshop

Under the “Transforming to New Ways Forward” theme, the webinar will draw together residents of all ages, business owners and employees, non-profit leaders, and government officials to learn about environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability. Featured speakers and panelists will discuss the latest sustainability strategies, resources, and best practices to forge a new way forward for our community.

Sarasota County, like much of Florida, continues to see rapid population growth and development, increasing stresses on everything from health systems to natural resources. Against that backdrop, the annual workshop offers insight on approaches to create lasting, more-equitable communities.

Benefit from this year’s online setting

Previously held as an in-person workshop, the 2020 event transitions to a webinar setting for enhanced safety and access. This year’s online format allows for a larger and broader audience to gather and attendees to connect with featured speakers from anywhere in the world. The variety of speakers will bring different perspectives to the table that will inspire communities to transform to a new way forward. In addition, the online format significantly lowers the carbon footprint of this year’s event!

Don’t miss this year’s low prices!

An example of a virtual meeting

The $10 workshop cost (students pay just $5) provides online access to the day-long event featuring expert speakers, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. Attendees can virtually visit sponsor booths and connect with businesses, community groups, and individuals from the local area and other locations. There also is an option to donate a ticket for those needing financial help to attend, with any remaining funds used toward a carbon-offset project.

See what we have in store for this year’s event

Register at https://ufsarasotaext.eventbrite.com for the one day workshop and hear about personal and community resiliency, climate change as it relates to social equity and health, circular economy, biophilia, environmental justice, waste reduction and innovative recycling, and more.

Here are a few of this year’s featured speakers. There are many others to come!


  • Dr. Cheryl Holder is the newly appointed interim associate dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Community Initiatives for the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University.  Holder is a highly respected clinician, educator and community leader who has dedicated her medical career to serving underserved and vulnerable populations. She also serves as co-chair of Florida Clinicians for Climate Action, working to increase climate literacy and enhance awareness of the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations. She recently gave a TEDMED talk about the link between climate change, health and poverty.
  • Dr. Leyla Acaroglu is an award-winning designer, social scientist, and sustainability expert that embodies the innovation that instigates positive environmental and social change. She is internationally recognized as a leader in tools for the circular economy and the use of disruptive design across sustainability and education initiatives. Acaroglu is a UNEP Champion of the Earth and the founder of Disrupt Design, the UnSchool and the CO Project Farm in Portugal. Her mainstage TED talk on sustainability has been viewed over a million times, and she leads presentations around the world on activating positive social change through creative interventions and systems thinking.
  • Leonardo Martinez-Diaz is Global Director of the Sustainable Finance Center at the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, D.C., where he heads a team of researchers working to promote the flow of public and private finance to environmentally-sustainable activities, including climate adaptation and mitigation. He is author of Globalizing in Hard Times: The Politics of Banking-Sector Opening in the Emerging World (Cornell, 2009) and co-author, with Alice C. Hill, of Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption (Oxford, 2019). Read more.
  • Alice Hill is the David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her work at CFR focuses on the risks, consequences, and responses associated with climate change. Hill previously served as special assistant to President Barack Obama and senior director for resilience policy on the National Security Council staff where she led the development of national policy to build resilience to catastrophic risks, including climate change and biological threats. Prior to this, Hill served as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in which she led the formulation of DHS’s first-ever climate adaptation plan and the development of strategic plans regarding catastrophic biological and chemical threats, including pandemics. Read more.

Sponsorship opportunities

Finally, thank you to Transition Sarasota (Gold), Brilliant Harvest (Silver), and Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (Silver) for being sponsors of the 15th Annual Sustainable Communities Workshop. Sponsorship opportunities are still available!

Learn more and register today

For more information and to register, visit www.scgov.net/SustainableCommunities or call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.

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