Biodiversity:Local Perspectives on a Global Issue

Tuesday, September 12, at 6:00 pm,

Jaguar photo courtesy University of Arizona and USFWS

As we see all too often in the news, the world’s biodiversity faces many challenges and threats, even including risks of multiple extinctions across the globe. In the US, concerns about biodiversity seem to be highlighted by this year’s 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, and globally we begin to see an awakening to the need for action, for example, the recent launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund.
Closer to home, we’re fortunate to live in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. Yet here too, the flora and fauna in the Sky Islands and the Sonoran Desert face many threats challenging their survival.
Join us for our next monthly meeting, Tuesday, September 12, at 6:00 pm, for an overview of key issues impacting biodiversity in our region. Our speaker is Laiken Jordahl,Southwest Conservation Advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, based here in Tucson. Laiken will give a brief overview of regional biodiversity and then share work being done to protect biodiversity in the borderlands in the face of myriad threats, including border walls and militarization, industrial-scale mining, and rampant and illegal cattle grazing of our vanishing wetlands – all of which are contributing significantly to biodiversity loss in the region. Following his presentation there will be ample time for Q & A.
Laiken works to protect wildlife, ecosystems, and public lands throughout the desert Southwest and U.S-Mexico borderlands. Before joining the Center, he worked with the National Park Service studying threats to wilderness character at five different national parks and monuments and with the Bureau of Land Management on recreation planning for the San Juan River. He has also worked as a natural resource legislative fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives. For four years Laiken worked as the Center’s Borderlands campaigner, fighting wall construction in Arizona and across the southwest, before recently transitioning into his current, more general role as a Southwest Conservation Advocate.


The Future of Tucson’s Housing

Tuesday, August 8 at 6pm

Join us at Sustainable Tucson’s monthly meeting, “The Future of Tucson’s Housing,” on Tuesday, August 8, at 6 pm for an inspiring and informative event that will reshape the way we think about our homes and their impact on the environment and our community.

Discover how we can take charge of our local part in a national problem and build a resilient, sustainable future for Tucson! Our focus will be on tackling the challenges of our aging homes and making them energy-efficient, cost-effective, and eco-friendly through the groundbreaking Green Retrofit II program.

At the meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to: 🏠 Learn about the current conditions of our old houses, both in the past and today. 💰 Find out what you can do to make sustainable upgrades without breaking the bank. 👷‍♂️ Discover the innovative Green Retrofit II program, for training the skilled workforce we need to repair and upgrade our homes. 🗣 Engage in a thought-provoking panel discussion on making repair, preservation, and upgrading of our homes a top community priority.

The impact can be enormous! Buildings account for 76% of electricity use and 40% of all U.S. primary energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. But with cost-effective technologies, we can cut building energy use by over 20% in the next few decades. By fixing the nation’s 56 million old homes, we have a unique chance to combat climate change while supporting economic and social stability for millions of American families.

Green Retrofit II has ambitious goals, including: 🛠 Training a skilled workforce to repair and upgrade Tucson’s 200,000 aging and uninsulated homes. 💡 Raising awareness and providing financing tools for widespread repairs and upgrades. 🏡Collaborating with neighborhoods to implement sustainability initiatives.

Who should attend? Everyone who cares about: 🌍 Housing, environment, and social justice. 👷‍♂️ Sustainable job opportunities and rehabilitation workforce training. 🏠 Affordable, comfortable, and efficient homes for all residents. 💼Supporting local businesses and financial institutions interested in sustainable home improvements. 🏘 Creating resilient and vibrant communities for the future. 🌱 Advocating for climate change mitigation and social equity.


Joining Forces for Clean Energy: A Practical Guide to Saving Money and the Planet

6:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 11

As temperatures rise, broader segments of Tucsonans are helping clean up our energy emissions and enjoying financial benefits from doing so.
Local initiatives are making solar affordable to more households and smoothing the transition to electric transportation. Existing state and federal support to electrify and clean up household and workplace energy use are undergoing a massive restructuring that includes replacing fossil infrastructure with heat pumps to efficiently cool and heat our living and work spaces and our water.
Hear stories of people who two years ago would not have been able to afford greening their energy use and find out what new options may be within your reach.
Among those sharing will be Flor Sandoval, Program Director of the Sonoran Environmental Research Institute, who oversees the Solar Empowerment Program; Ben Nead, a member of the Tucson Climate Coalition and a volunteer advisor to the City of Tucson on electric vehicle charging for multifamily housing; and Solar Lawyer Bruce Plenk and solar installer Duane Ediger, both members of Sustainable Tucson’s Energy Transformation Working Group.


“Chemical Recycling” of Plastic: A Burning Issue

Tuesday, June 13 at 6:00pm

As public concern grows about the plastic waste crisis, the petrochemical and plastic industries are promoting a suite of environmentally troublesome technologies that they misleadingly call “chemical recycling” (also known as “advanced recycling”) as a solution to the crisis.  Chemical recycling isn’t really recycling at all.  This supposed cutting-edge technology most often involves turning plastic into fuel. Here in Tucson, the Environmental and General Services Department has solicited seven project ideas for turning plastic or mixed waste into gaseous and/or liquid fuels that will be burned, using pyrolysis and gasification systems. The Department is also studying two proposals that would turn discarded plastics into chemical feedstocks to make new plastic.

Chemical recycling represents a dangerous false solution to the plastic epidemic. These high-heat systems most often use plastic materials to generate a limited amount of fuel in a one-time process, destroying them rather than giving them another material use. These processes, which are energy-intensive, generate greenhouse gases and toxic fumes. Some also produce hazardous waste. Chemical recycling will not solve the plastic waste crisis. What is needed instead are policies that reduce plastic production and waste, particularly single-use packaging.

Join us at our June 13 monthly meeting to learn about the health and environmental hazards of chemical recycling. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Veena Singla, Senior Scientist, People & Communities Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Time for Q&A will follow her presentation.

Dr. Singla, who is also an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University, oversees a program that addresses health disparities linked to harmful environmental exposures. Her research investigates how toxic chemicals and pollution related to systems of materials use, production, and disposal threaten the health of impacted communities.

Dr. Singla currently serves on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee, the National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors, the Board of Directors for Clean Production Action, and as associate director for the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice Program. 


Air Quality in Pima County

One of the key foundational issues for living in a healthy environment is ensuring that we can breathe clean air. We know that this is far from true for many places and communities around the world. But what about right here in Pima County? Do we enjoy the clean air we all desire? Or are there days when we experience poor air, and are there parts of the county that experience a risky degree of pollution? How can we all help to ensure our local air quality is the best it can be?
Join us for an in-depth look at “Air Quality in Pima County” at our next monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 9, at 6:00 pm on Zoom. We’re pleased that our presenter for this topic will be Natalie Shepp, MPH, Senior Program Manager for Outreach & Education at Pima County Department of Environmental Quality. She’ll focus on local air quality issues, and review local sources, health effects, and solutions to air pollution. Time for Q&A will follow her presentation.
And to prepare for what you’ll be hearing from Natalie, you can take PDEQ’s Clean Air Challenge, hosted on their website throughout the month of May <#ThisIsCleanAir Challenge>. For the Challenge, you’ll take a quiz to test your knowledge about air quality and how your habits protect the air we breathe. Quiz takers also earn a chance at winning a prize.

Young Advocates for Sustainability

Tuesday, April 11
6:00-7:30 pm

Watch the meeting:

Join us to hear a panel of young activists (teens to 20’s) who are working for a sustainable future. Panelists will share their key engagements in the community, other issues that are on their minds, and what they wish others would do to assure a brighter future. After they answer a few prepared questions, the floor will open to the audience. Bring your questions!
Panelists are Rocky Baier, recent UA grad, co-founder of Tucson’s Repair Cafe; Ali Soland, member of Youth for Blue Skies, a collaborative program of the Ironwood Tree Experience; Adriana Bachmann, Ambassadors of Sustainability, climate communicator; and Garrett Weaver, member of Tucson Climate Coalition.


Sustainability in the Statehouse

Tuesday, March 14 @ 6:00

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.


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.”


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.


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.