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Sustainability in the Statehouse

Tuesday, March 14 @ 6:00

https://youtu.be/btXUQ4-kwq0

What’s happening in our state Legislature to bills that impact environment, natural resources, and related issues? Join us at our next monthly meeting for answers to that question.

Our speaker will be State Senator Priya Sundareshan, who will give an overview of legislative activity (or lack of activity) on issues such as sustainability, environment, clean air, water, environmental justice, electrifying transportation options, and emissions reduction in the fight to control the climate crisis.

Senator Sundareshan represents Legislative District 18 and is also the Director of the Natural Resource Use and Management Clinic, James E Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. It will be valuable to hear the perspective of an environmental lawyer on the way our legislature is addressing issues of importance to our organization – and to the future of our state.

Speaker Bio: Priya Sundareshan was elected to the Arizona Senate in 2023 to represent LD 18 and currently sits on the Elections, Government, and Natural Resources/Energy/Water Committees. Born and raised in LD18, Priya loves Tucson and the opportunities she had for an excellent public education and exploring the outdoors. She teaches natural resources law at the University of Arizona, and previously advocated for sustainable resource management with the Environmental Defense Fund. As a voting rights advocate, Priya has led voter protection efforts and engagement on redistricting within the Arizona Democratic Party. Having studied engineering at MIT and law and natural resource economics at UA, she knows we need more science-based decision-making in politics, especially when it comes to preserving our

beautiful state for future generations. As a mother of two small children, Priya wants her children and all children to inherit a sustainable world and sustainable Arizona.

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Love and Protect
Our Beautiful Sonoran Desert

This month we are featuring the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, an important local organization advocating for and working to preserve our natural environment and biodiversity. But why does the Sonoran Desert need protection, and what is this Coalition doing to protect it?

Join us to get the answers to those and many other questions at our Monthly Meeting, 6:00 pm on Tuesday, February 14 — Valentine’s Day, the perfect time to express your love for our beautiful Sonoran Desert! 
 
Our speaker will be Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, who will share with us her passion for the Sonoran Desert. Carolyn will give us an overview of the important work of the Coalition, including its role in developing Pima County’s award-winning Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. She’ll review other notable successes and key challenges, and she’ll suggest some ways in which we can get involved. 

Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director, helped found the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection in 1998, responding to a need for a unified voice to advocate for the implementation of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Over the last 20 years, under her leadership, the Coalition has become the lead environmental advocate and facilitator on Sonoran Desert conservation planning.

After graduating from Arizona State University in 1982 with a B.S. in Political Science, Carolyn worked as a Congressional Aide to Representative Morris K. Udall in his Phoenix office from 1984-1990. She was the founder and State Chair of the Arizona Green Party from 1990-1998, and from 1994-1997 she worked as Chief Council Aide for Tucson City Councilmember Molly McKasson. Over the years, she has served on many local committees and boards of local organizations, and has received numerous local and regional awards.
 
Throughout her time calling Tucson home, she has been, in her own words,  “a passionate voice for Sonoran Desert land and wildlife conservation.”

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Make your voice heard about our water future

Image of the one water process, which includes groundwater, surface water, reclaimed water, and stormwater.
Tucson is working on the One Water 2100 Master Plan.

The City of Tucson is working on the One Water 2100 Master Plan to determine how Tucson will manage water resources for the next 80 years.

Your input on the plan is needed! The One Water 2100 Survey will be open through January 31, 2023 to get feedback from the community.

Sustainable Tucson prepared an info sheet to provide some background on the options in the survey. You can access the info sheet here and then use the link in the info sheet to take the survey.

Be part of our water future!

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Take Heart, Take Part, Take Action

How Small Acts and Groups Can Create Big Change
An evening of stories and conversation
With Trathen Heckman, founder and executive director, Daily Acts

In getting overwhelmed and disheartened, we lose sight of the enriching, transformative impact we each can have. Come spend an hour with Trathen Heckman, author of the just-released book, Take Heart, Take Action, as he shares:

  • Tools and practices to find and live your inspiration and create a personal compass
  • How small groups can become catalysts for wide-scale change

Trathen Heckman is the founder and Director of Daily Acts Organization. He serves on the Board of Transition U.S. and the California Water Efficiency Partnership and is an Advisory Board member of the Norcal Community Resilience Network. Trathen helps people and groups reclaim the power of their actions to regenerate self, nature, and community. Trathen lives in the Petaluma River Watershed, where he grows food, medicine, and wonder while working to compost apathy and lack.

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Exploring Climate Change Using
“The Thing from the Future”

Tuesday, December 13, 6:00 pm

There are many tools that can help us think about the world we want to see. One such tool is “The Thing from the Future,” a game designed by the Situation Lab. The designers describe it this way: “The Thing from The Future is an award-winning imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures.” Our presenter, Nic Richmond, the Chief Strategy Officer for Pima Community College and a certified foresight practitioner, has extended the game to include climate action and sustainability topics, creating a collaborative activity that generates thoughtful discussion and true creativity.

Within the game, participants will be presented with a scenario comprised of:

  • A type of future (e.g., a future resulting from ongoing steady progress or a future impacted by a profound historical change)
  • The climate setting (e.g., the temperature increase was successfully limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius or we cross a climate change tipping point)
  • The context or location where the future object may be found
  • The type of object that is the focus of the round — a specific artifact that reveals something about how the future is different from today 
  • The mood that a person may feel while using the object

After the presenter shares an introduction to futures work and presents an example of a possible future object, participants will divide into teams (via break-out rooms) and be assigned a set of cards. They will be charged with developing the specifics of the object and what it means in the specified climate future. After 10 minutes of discussion, each team will present their object and a winner will be selected for the round. We’ll play several rounds, to explore a range of possible futures.

Nic Richmond, Ph.D., is a geophysicist, data scientist, and education leader. Nic has earned a B.Sc. and Ph.D. in geophysics from institutions in the United Kingdom and gained over 25 years of research experience. Her research interests include the analysis and interpretation of orbital magnetometer data of the Moon and Mars, the application of quantum mechanics and solid-state physics to deep Earth materials, and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning methods in higher education. Since 2008, she has worked full time in higher education research, and she currently leads the Strategy, Analytics, and Research team at Pima Community College, where she serves as Chief Strategy Officer. In that role, she is responsible for the College’s sustainability program, and she led the development of the College’s first Climate Action and Sustainability Plan.
 

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Low Water/Low Labor Hot Wet Composting in the Desert

Join us Tuesday, November 8 at 6:00 PM, as we welcome our speaker, Joy Holdread, a local artist who specializes in desert

composting and water conservation. Joy will share techniques andtips on how to compost easily in the desert with a fewmodifications to traditional methods and commercial bins, to accommodate the desert’s dryness as well as conserve water. Turn your yard, kitchen, and office waste into great growing soil without using extra potable water.

Our speaker: Joy L. Holdread grew up in a small town in Western Arizona next to an Indian reservation. Much of her art is inspired from visual memories of this unspoiled area which she explored during long hikes and family cookouts with a border collie, prospectors, and rock hounds. Joy received an A.F.A. degree from Arizona Western College, then studied fine and commercial art at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona. She lives in Tucson, where her activities have included coordinating art exhibits, teaching a business class for visual artists, artist in the schools, workshops, and private consultations. Currently Joy focuses her energies on sustainable projects in the desert, specializing in desert composting techniques and water conservation.

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Tackling Food Waste at the City Level

YouTube link: https://youtu.be/bca0rCtOpO4

Join us on Tuesday, October 11 at 6:00pm, as we welcome our speaker, Nina Sevilla, from National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). She will share the findings of NRDC’s ground-breaking report, “Wasted: How America is Losing up to 40 Percent of its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill” and will look at how we can address this problem at the city and community level. Nina will share examples of how other cities across the U.S. are taking the lead to reduce food waste and suggest what can be done in Tucson.
 
Food, whether purchased from a local farmer’s market, a giant supermarket chain, or a corner bodega, whether eaten at a curbside truck or a 3-star restaurant, is something most Americans take for granted. Little consideration is given to where the food comes from, the circumstances under which it is grown, what is involved in processing it and getting it to market, or what the substantial environmental impacts are at each and every step of the way.
 
Across the U.S., as many of us enjoy the bountiful supply, it is estimated that some 40 million Americans are food insecure—that is lacking access to adequate and nutritious food. At the same time, over one third or approximately 35% of the food produced in the U.S. goes unsold or uneaten, wasting the resources used to produce it and creating a myriad of environmental impacts.
 
In particular, food loss and waste undeniably exacerbates climate change. In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that annual U.S. food loss and waste embodied 170 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. For perspective, that is equal to the annual emissions of 42 coal-fired power plants. And, this estimate does not take into consider the fact that food rotting in landfills further emits greenhouse gases in the form of climate-damaging methane.
 
By decreasing food waste, we can lessen the need for new food production; reduce projected deforestation, biodiversity loss, water pollution, and scarcity; and lower greenhouse gases. Additionally, reducing food waste can go a long way in eliminating or reducing food insecurity.
 
As we’ll learn from our speaker, legislatures in cities and states throughout the U.S. have implemented laws that address this critical issue of food loss and waste. Alongside these governmental initiatives, nationally-recognized non-profits like the NRDC and ReFED and numerous community-based organizations are tackling the issue in innovative ways that can serve as models for a more comprehensive national approach.

Nina Sevilla works to ensure we have a sustainable, healthy, and equitable food system for all. She helps lead NRDC’s federal policy advocacy and facilitates learnings across cities by sharing successes and lessons learned from NRDC’s Food Matters project to a network of partners across the nation. She also works with those partners to run a consumer education campaign, Save The Food, to reduce household food waste. Prior to joining NRDC, Nina worked to increase food access through child nutrition programs at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona in Tucson. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Bates College and is based in NRDC’s San Francisco office.
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Event

September Is National Preparedness Month

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlSzi9BlzGc

Sept. 13, 6:00-7:30 pm, on Zoom.
 
Join us as we mark National Preparedness Month with a look at ways that Tucson and Pima County are preparing against the prospects of extreme heat, wildfires, flooding, and power outages — and what more we can do in the face of increasingly dangerous climate conditions.
 
This online conversation will feature local experts on heat resilience, climate adaptation, and emergency response. Panelists include Matt McGlone, outreach manager for Pima County’s Office of Emergency Management, and Joe Tabor, lead environmental epidemiologist at Pima County Health Department and member of their Heat Relief team.
 
Presented in cooperation with Building a Resilient Neighborhood, a working group of Tucson neighbors.

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A Critical Look at Waste Incineration

Tuesday, August 9, 6:00 pm

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/PNAE_KNwBDk

Waste incineration (including pyrolysis, gasification, and plasma arc) is making a comeback across the country, driven by misguided waste management and energy policies. Here in Tucson the Environmental and General Services Department is evaluating the feasibility of hosting a waste incinerator at the Los Reales Sustainability Campus.

Incineration is the most expensive and polluting way to make energy or manage waste. It is more polluting than coal (even for the climate) and undermines zero waste approaches like source reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting.

Join us at our August monthly meeting to learn about the life-cycle impacts of incineration technologies and how they affect people and our environment.

Our speaker will be Mike Ewall, founder and director of Energy Justice Network. EJN is a national support network for grassroots community groups fighting dirty energy and waste industry facilities, such as coal power plants, ethanol plants, natural gas facilities, landfills, and incinerators of every sort.

Mike has been actively involved in student and community environmental justice organizing since high school in 1990. He’s taught hundreds of workshops at college campuses and activist conferences throughout the U.S. His grassroots support work has helped many communities achieve victories against power plants, landfills, incinerators, medical waste facilities and other polluting industries.

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Update on PFAS pollution in Tucson

YouTube link: https://youtu.be/9uBZ5Yd8G-g

The July Sustainable Tucson meeting is taking a different approach than our usual meetings. We are invited to join an information session that Councilmember Steve Kozachik is holding on PFAS pollution, a topical issue of great import to us all. The announcement that follows is from Councilmember Kozachik. Please join us on Zoom on Thursday, July 14, at 6:00 pm.
 
Since the 1970’s the industry has known PFAS is toxic. It’s a family of chemicals that’s used to create non-stick surfaces, water proofing on clothing, and most importantly it is used as a fire-fighting foam the military used for decades at virtually every military base in the country. It’s called Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), and Davis Monthan and the training done by the Air National Guard at Tucson International used it. We know their chosen method of disposal was to hose it into the soil when training took place on runways, and to dilute it and dump it down the sewer system when the training took place in hangars. 
 
The city regularly tests our groundwater wells for a variety of pollutants. In the case of PFAS the EPA had until last week established health advisory limits for PFAS at 70 parts per trillion. We detected contamination levels outside of DM in excess of 1,000ppt, and outside of TIA at over 10,000ppt. Tucson water has a policy by which we shut down wells when we see levels of 18ppt. So far there are over 25 Tucson Water wells shut down as a result.
 
I’ve been hosting informational meetings for the public to hear from DOD, the ADEQ, Tucson Water, and the city attorney’s office on updates related to the PFAS contamination we’re experiencing in Tucson. Last week the EPA lowered their health advisory level to .0004ppt for PFAS. Their own credentialed testing method will only detect down to 2ppt. The health advisory is just that – advisory. It is not a legally binding maximum contamination limit. The result is confusion within the military, environmental quality agencies, and utilities.
 
Join us on July 14 at 6pm by Zoom for the next presentation from representatives of DM, ADEQ, and city representatives. We’ll discuss the levels of contamination we know of in the Tucson region, and we’ll hear how the various players in this are responding to the new EPA standards.