Green Business Workshops

Where: YWCA, 525 N. Bonita Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85745


This FREE workshop is your guide to straight forward sustainable business practices.
Obtain Tucson Electric Power’s available incentives which can pay as much as 90% of the installed cost on select efficiency measures

  • Become a Certified Green Business through the City of Tucson
  • Increase your bottom line through decreasing your utility costs
  • Connect with resources to help pay for efficiency upgrades
  • Receive technical expertise and free energy, water, waste and pollution prevention audits
  • Learn techniques to reduce energy consumption, waste generation and pollution prevention

Register in advance here or call us 520-620-1241

Who do you rely on?

Pima Connects is asking that you complete a survey to help identify the connectors in our community. Identifying Connectors and bringing them together is a powerful way to encourage different and dynamic voices to be part of community conversations about issues that affect us all. It’s also a great way to link people and resources with community needs.

To help identify Connectors in your neighborhood, take the survey here:

The survey must be completed before May 31, 2010.

Sustainable Tucson General Meeting

Common Struggle on Many Fronts: Taking Action on Sustainability

Sustainable Tucson will be holding its next three general meetings (July, August and September) to raise awareness of the implications of fossil fuel dependency and climate change. We will be engaging a panel of speakers at each meeting to present information on the challenges of such a reduction and current planning efforts in the areas of Electric Power, Transportation, and Water supply and use. The panels will also educate us on actions individuals can take to help.

On Monday, July 12th, a panel of three speakers representing the Arizona Corporation Commission, Tucson Electric Power, and Technicians For Sustainability discussed how we might meet the goal to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

On Monday, August 9th, the General Meeting will focus on the options for reducing carbon emissions through improvements in the transportation system. Presentations will include The Pima Association of Governments’ 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, Nissan’s plan to test personal electric cars in the Tucson market, and an examination of how land use plans might actually reduce carbon emissions.

On Monday, September 13th, the General Meeting will focus on the carbon burden associated with supplying Greater Tucson’s vital water supply, and we plan to explore the kinds of activities that individuals can do within their own communities to use that water wisely and sustainably.

On Sunday, October 10th, Sustainable Tucson will be encouraging individuals and organizations to participate in a Global Work Party to raise awareness and empower ourselves through local climate action projects.

On Tuesday, October 12th, The General Meeting will focus on the Arizona Corporation Commission and its importance for sustainability.

Comments Due May 20th


On June 15, 2010 the Tucson City Council will consider formalization
of a Water Service Area Policy for Tucson Water which will define the geographic footprint where Tucson Water will extend water service.
Public comments are requested on the proposed Water Service Area Policy as described in the background materials and Proposed Tucson Water Service Area map which can be viewed on the City of Tucson website at
Comments about the proposed water service area should be submitted by May 20, 2010 to Nicole Ewing Gavin, Assistant to the City Manager:
E-mail: nicole.ewing-gavin@…
Phone: (520) 791-4204
Mail:P.O. Box 27210, Tucson AZ 85726-7210

Tucson Water’s current water service policy of serving only legally-obligated areas was established as an interim policy in 2007 pending the outcome of the City/County Water and Wastewater Study, which is now complete. The Study identified a set of economic and environmental factors to be used to guide water service expansion decisions. These factors have been applied to the current water service area to make water service expansion recommendations. These recommendations seek to 1) protect the interests of Tucson Water ratepayers by managing future water resource obligations, 2) better align water service areas with jurisdictional boundaries and encourage annexation which brings state revenue to the region, 3) dedicate water for future economic development, industry, and jobs, and 4) deliver renewable water supplies to riparian areas where further groundwater pumping would cause environmental damage.

Kim Fox Fund Raiser

Local chefs cook meals with produce from local gardens at a fundraiser
for Kim Fox’s travels from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Sunday, May 23. $25 to $75.
Mercado San Agustin 100 S. Avenida del Convento. Call 461-1106, or
visit for more information.

Sara Jones of Tucson CSA will make dessert, and Amy Schwemm of Mano Y
Metate will make mole. Rachel Yaseen of The Organic Kitchen and
Justin Dixon of Mercado Sunday Dinners will also be cooking.


Kim Fox, a Tucson micro-urban farmer and food activist dedicated to
community education and local food production, is embarking on a new
adventure! Up until now, Kim has been busy designing urban sites for
food production and distribution. Her community education programs
focus on local food production, soil science, food security and
health. Now that summer is here, she’s hitting the road with her bike,
and an open plate and mind!

Kim is an observer of and participant in local and international food
ways. She has traveled to 25 countries working on small farms and
urban gardens, visiting farmers’ markets, participating in food
culture and customs, and observing local food production and
distribution methods. Beginning in June 2010, Kim will travel by
bicycle across Europe engaging with people who manage urban and rural
farms, gardens, farmers’ markets, food banks, seed banks, and public
and private agencies in order to exchange perspectives and information
on local sustainable agriculture. In particular, Kim will study and report on
seed saving, climate change consequences, GMO issues, sustainable farming
and urban gardening techniques, and seek to collect recipes straight from the kitchen.

Her community in Tucson and beyond can learn with her, via internet updates
on her blog, at or on Facebook “Kim Fox Food Trek 2010.” Your donations or in-kind support will ensure that fresh and enriching ideas, beyond the American perspective, will benefit our community’s local-sustainable food system.

To contribute to her trip or for more information, visit her blog or
contact her at or 520-622-1917. Become a food

Transitioning to a Sustainable Economy: Tucson’s Future?

Sustainable Tucson is republishing the following call to the community which we originally presented in February 2008. The message is not only more relevant today but portends some of the events which have already happened since then. As we prepare to participate in the upcoming Imagine Greater Tucson process this coming Fall, let’s focus on the key challenge we all face: transitioning to a sustainable economy.

Transitioning to a Sustainable Economy: Tucson’s Future?

What is the greatest challenge we now face in Southern Arizona?

This question becomes more important as we join together this year in community conversations about our future. Increasingly, people are realizing the main challenge is not growth, but rather sustaining and improving our quality of life including our economy. Managing growth is necessary, but only part of what is required for success.

Our mounting problems are largely the result of over-dependence on population growth to keep our economy thriving. In addition to our attractive climate, desert landscape, and friendly, diverse culture, people migrate here for the affordable lifestyle. Until recently, we offered many low-cost advantages – cheap water, cheap energy, cheap labor, cheap capital, and cheap land. We also subsidized the expansion of public infrastructure and services to serve growth, mostly out of general revenues. As long as these favorable, artificial conditions for growth prevailed, people continued to move here. Only one year in our history – 1990 – did out-migration outpace population in-flux. And that was a year when our economy last hit bottom.

Our region’s long-term average population growth rate has been a little over 2% per year. The annual growth rate for Arizona as a whole has been more than 3%, resulting in doubling population and the required built environment every two decades. Job creation has generally kept up with population, yielding low unemployment rates, mainly because population growth has been the driver of job growth. Even though public systems and services were under-funded, this growth dynamic benefited most of us as long as the base kept growing.

But what happens when the conditions underpinning growth change? This is the situation we find ourselves in today – a drying, warming Southwest with looming water shortages; the end of cheap oil, natural gas, and coal; unprecedented price rises for food imports; people refusing to subsidize urban sprawl; increasing limitations on jurisdictions to maintain and expand infrastructure and services; a super competitive global economy driven by advances in science and technology; new accounting and costing proposals including measuring and limiting carbon impacts – and in the face of these growing uncertainties – questions about the declining health of the American economy and its financial systems. What does sustainability mean for us here as we confront these major, converging challenges of the 21st century?

Instead of debating the infinite pros and cons of growth, maybe we should focus on what really matters most to us – how are we going to successfully transition to an economy which sustains our quality of life into the future but doesn’t require unsustainable growth to keep it thriving?

The Arizona Department of Commerce initiated an important study several years ago to answer this question. However, that prospectus was mostly neglected and to date, remains little known. The bottom-line finding is that we are well-positioned to sustain our economy by developing a Sustainable Systems Industry based on already existing strengths in engineering, optics, biosciences, environmental design, earth sciences, and natural resources. Our sustainability challenges can all be converted into opportunities for centers of excellence in economic development. These sustainable systems and technologies would include resource-efficient products, services, and practices in the areas of water, energy, food, health, transportation, and housing. And perhaps most important, these industries would supply both the local economy and rapidly growing export markets – all responding to the new demands for higher performance standards.

Development leaders in both Tucson and Phoenix are already discussing the growth limitations of each city – the prospects of “population build-out” in the future. Some say our region should grow to 2 million, some say we can sustain another half million people, but others ask: How will we sustain even the current million people without fundamental economic innovation and investment in our deficient public infrastructure and services to support a new economy? Regardless of scenario, population growth will go away as the driver of the economy.

More immediately, growth is certain to slowdown naturally as development subsidies are reduced and demand for new development declines. Growth patterns will be better managed as we direct development and re-development pressures toward more compact, mixed use, transit-oriented urban form. The big questions that remain are: Will we respond to these sustainability challenges in time to ensure that our quality of life becomes sustained and not further eroded? Will we build a new economy based on the opportunities of sustainability? Or will we witness these converging challenges become the first step of long-term economic decline?

In his inspiring 2008 State of the City address, Mayor Bob Walkup called upon people and groups in the community to join together in building a new sustainable economy. This should be Goal One if we are to build economic resilience and attract sufficient investment within the next five years. Surely, we need clarity about where we are and where we’re headed. And we need a way to common ground, common vision and full community participation.

– Sustainable Tucson, February, 2008

Industry leaders seem to be showing more openness to energy descent issues

Industry leaders seem to be showing more openness to energy descent issues

Published on Energy Bulletin (

Published Tue, 05/04/2010 – 07:00 by The Oil Drum

This is a guest post by George Mobus, who is an Associate Professor of Computing and Software Systems at the University of Washington, Tacoma. His blog is Question Everything.

I’ve spent the last two days at the Institute for the Future’s Ten-Year Forecast retreat in Sausalito, CA. The attendance list for the retreat reads like a “Who’s who” of corporations (and a number of vice presidents from those companies), but includes governmental officials from all over the world who have a hand in strategic planning.

There were a few of us academics as well. At this retreat, I introduced ideas relating to peak net energy, and the possibility of major changes in the years ahead. I found industry leaders much more open than I had expected to listening to and understanding our energy predicament, and talking about what may be ahead. In this post, I would like to tell you about my experience.

The Retreat

My role was to report on the energy picture (which was linked with the carbon issues in climate change). I was asked to be provocative, which I found easy to do after just having read David Korowicz’s Tipping Point paper [here (pdf)] and on The Oil Drum [here (html in a series in reverse order)]. This started with a set of “lightning” rounds, each only five minutes long, to frame the issues and provoke thinking. That was followed by breakout sessions where those of us who gave the lightning rounds led group discussions about our particular issues.

The covered issues were: The Carbon Economy (my piece), Cities in Transition, The Water Ecology, Adaptive Power, and Molecular Identity. The Institute staff had developed a number of scenarios for the future related to signals (signs of change) that they have been tracking on a global basis. The scenarios included Growth (what we ordinarily think of as BAU), Constraint (more or less self-regulation of society), Collapse (a theme often voiced here!), and Transition (essentially adaptation and mitigation in all of the issue areas). The genius behind what the Institute staff did to relate all of these was to generate potentials for actions by adding a third dimension to the discussion in the form of motivations: Happiness, Resilience, and Legacy. The whole meeting became a group exercise in identifying actions in these three dimensions and at least hinting at the system interrelationships.

You might be interested to know that my breakout session ended up being the largest subgroup, with about 25% of the participants, indicating that I had been successful in provoking interest and that many of the participants were indeed very interested in energy issues. Carbon took a back seat. Concern for finding ways to reduce CO2 emissions seemed a lot less immediate compared to peak oil and peak net energy.

Lightning Round Presentation

Mobus_The Good

Mobus The Bad

Mobus The Ugly

Below I show my lightening round presentation. I had to get the message across in just three slides and the words that went with them. Unlike most presentations on peak oil, where you start out with the bad news and then try to lift spirits with some kind of good news at the end (raise hopes?) I chose the Clint Eastwood movie “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” saving the worst to last. I wanted the audience to be nervous at the end!

The Good News

I was prepared for what I assumed would be the typical blow back from a crowd who I presupposed were committed to profits, growth, and the whole western capitalism ideology. As I watched the group gather for my breakout session, I grew nervous. The size of the growing group led me to think I might be in for a real show down.

As the questions started to come in, I realized that nothing could be further from the truth. The overwhelming sentiment seemed to be one of grasping the principles followed by concern for the implications. I had told them that society would soon run out of energy to keep the kind of consumer-oriented, high powered economy going and they were acknowledging that they basically got it. Incidentally, one of the client companies is one of the world’s largest cruise ship enterprises. Another is a major ground delivery service company. Fuel is an important issue to them as you might imagine.

Companies like these are concerned with international business and profits from sales all over the world. Governments are concerned with revenues that they get from taxes on incomes of companies and individuals. All have developed their revenue generation models based on cheap energy, so my message was not welcome. But it was also not rejected (actually there was an investment banking representative who was a bit dismissive, telling me his analysts had assured him there would be no problem until 2030 to 2050). Instead the prevailing attitude was one of “OK, so what can we do to plan for this?”

Of course there were the usual questions about alternative energies replacing fossil fuels; I didn’t raise their hopes with my answers to that. There was some discussion about natural gas filling the demand vs. supply gap for fuel; I explained some of the important caveats on the developments of natural gas wells. But by and large there seemed to be an overall sense of acceptance of the predicament. I even saw a number of heads nodding in agreement when I explained how the financial crisis of 2008 to the present was triggered by the oil price spike and that the bubbles that existed had been driven by the growing gap between real wealth and paper (phony) wealth based on declining net energy flows vs. gambling on our future ability to pay back all the debt we’d been creating trying to keep BAU afloat. I think most of them got it.

So the good news for me was that so many high level executives, thought leaders in major companies, and governmental officials charged with thinking about the future were open to the possibility that the collapse scenario (of the economy as we know it) would be brought about by the decline in net energy flow. Of course this was a small group compared with the number of companies still out there, presumably planning on futures based on growth and increased profits because they think the world will just go on as it has forevermore. These people were presumably at the retreat because they already understood that the world was changing in fundamental ways, and they were looking at the Institute to help decipher the signs.

Confirmed Impressions

For the balance of the day, yesterday, and this morning, I had several opportunities to confirm my first impressions as during breaks, at a wine reception, and at meals many people came up to me to thank me for being so direct and blunt about the future challenge. A number of executives engaged me in extended conversations with respect to their companies and what a decline in fuels or net energy would mean for their long-term operations. I don’t remember ever collecting so many business cards at one event as I did over the last two days — cards proffered on me by executives who expressed an interest in knowing more.

During another, more free-form breakout session, a number of us had a very frank discussion about the problems with capitalism and profit motives and how the culture of corporations is at direct odds with achieving a sustainable future. I was amazed to hear these executives express what I consider extraordinarily enlightened understanding of the fundamental problems. Of course, those same executives are hard pressed to go before their boards and state as much. There is still a very long way to go.

Nevertheless, this experience was heartening. I came prepared to be booed and have rotten tomatoes thrown my way. Instead we saw contemplative consideration of the issues. Kathi Vian, Director of the Ten-Year Forecast program, told me that she had been amazed at the reception that these executives and minister representatives had expressed for the basic ideas in the forecast (esp. even considering Collapse).

She contrasted the attitudes with those of the last retreat when most people were more optimistic about the future. They had convinced themselves that some technological solution to carbon pollution would be found, and a vigorous carbon trade market would solve all problems. She had been anticipating some push back to the way the current forecast had been framed. Instead, she too was gratified to see the openness that participants had for discussing potentially devastating topics. Of course, the purpose for discussing these issues was to seek pathways through the map of challenges to achieve happiness, resilience, and legacy. People were eager to explore those pathways. The purpose of these retreats is to consider solutions to problems. People are still motivated to thrive and find meaning in their activities. No one is motivated to watch a society collapse into chaos or a new “dark age”.

What It May Mean

I don’t want to read anything more into this one experience than is warranted. There were about 100 people at this retreat, an admittedly small sample. Even though they represent some real powerhouse companies, it is but a miniscule fraction of the total of capitalist institutions and their governmental enablers. Bob Johansen, Distinguished Fellow of the Institute, expressed the reality that the people who come to these futuristic sessions more largely represent “soft power” rather than the “hard power” associated with marketing and finance, let alone the executive control, of their companies. A lot depends on these folks’ influence on those centers of hard power.

However, I do think it significant that Kathi’s comment and my surprise experience may at least point to something of a beginning of a trend. There seems to be a group who is growing in awareness of the real issues we face today. These people are ones who historically have been committed to the conventional capitalist model (including growth), and who are thinking more seriously about the future. They have noticed that the environment has somehow fundamentally changed, and have become open to conversations that suggest that an end to the capitalistic system is at hand. I suppose for those of us who have been trying to communicate the need to rethink everything (to Question Everything), this is a cause for hope. We may yet be successful in our attempts to communicate with some.

I am pretty sure that given the motivations of the participants, the message of declining net energy as a new experience for humanity is still not completely absorbed. It seems likely that the implications of declining energy have still not been completely grasped. But there is a nose under the tent! People are aware that something is not quite right with the world and are becoming open to understanding what is wrong and why. That is, I think, hopeful.

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Energy Bulletin is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.

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[7] Good.jpg

[8] The Bad.jpg

[9] The Ugly.jpg

Bad Weeds Rising

The New York Times reports on a truly scary “we told you so” story about the growth of “Roundup-resistant weeds” that threaten to dramatically raise the cost of food and the widespread use of even more deadly pesticides.

This is how the article begins…

“Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds. To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.”

To read the entire article follow this link.

Green Business Workshop

320 N. Commerce Park Loop, Sentinel Building
Sabino/Rillito Rooms

Fiscally Sound Green Business Practices

Learn how to reduce your use of resources and operate more sustainably in order to save
money. You’ll also discuss:
♦ How to conduct resource consumption evaluations
♦ Energy efficiency opportunities
♦ Water efficiency
♦ Waste reduction and recycling techniques
♦ Aspects of the City of Tucson’s Green Business Certification Program

This workshop will be conducted by a representative from the City of Tucson Office of Conservation and Sustainable
Development. Representatives from Tucson Electric Power, and Tucson Water will also be on hand to share their resources.

Advance Registration is required. Cost: $49
Call 520-620-1241 for more information or to register

Green Business Workshop


320 N. Commerce Park Loop, Sentinel Building
Sabino/Rillito Rooms

Experts will discuss:
♦ How to improve your bottom line through sustainable business practices.
♦ What it really means to be “green,”
♦ How your company can reduce material & energy waste,
♦ How going green cuts costs.
♦ Information about available rebates and other support programs

This workshop will be conducted by a representative from the City of Tucson Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development. Representatives from Tucson Electric Power, and Tucson Water will also be on hand to share their resources.
Advance Registration is required. Cost: $49

Call 520-620-1241 for more
information or to register

Bill McKibben on “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough Planet” (video)

Bill McKibben on “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough Planet” (video)

by Michael Brownlee


As part of his current book tour, author and climate activist Bill McKibben spoke at the First United Methodist Church in Boulder, CO on April 27, co-sponsored by Boulder Book Store and Transition Colorado. The video of his presentation is below, following the introduction that was given by Michael Brownlee, co-founder of Transition Colorado.

Many of us know Bill McKibben as the inspirational force behind Step It Up and more recently, which has taken the lead globally in raising awareness about the urgency of meeting the challenge of global warming, coordinating last October what CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.”

Others of us have known Bill as the author of The End of Nature in 1989, the very first book for a general audience to sound the alarm about global warming.

Still others of us remember when Bill published Deep Economy three years ago, and he was here in this very room then to tell us about the need to relocalize our economies. That was the same year our organization launched what we envisioned as a ten-year campaign to relocalize Boulder County.

Few here may know that Bill is also a member of a strategically significant think tank called Post Carbon Institute, which in 2003 was the first organization to sound the call for relocalization as a crucial response to climate change and peak oil. At Post Carbon, Bill joins nearly 30 of the most important thinkers and researchers on these issues—including such luminaries as Richard Heinberg, Michael Shuman, Rob Hopkins, Majora Carter, Gloria Flora, Wes Jackson, Stephanie Mills, Chris Martenson, David Orr, and Bill Reese.

With these Fellows, Post Carbon Institute is “leading the transition to a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable world,” and is a key strategic partner in the visionary efforts of the Transition Movement, which we’re now a part of. We find it very inspiring that these leaders are joining together to help discover the way forward.

Nearly four years ago, James Hansen said, “We have at most ten years. Not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to fundamentally alter the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.” But we still have not yet begun to do this.

Bill helps us realize that the fiasco at Copenhagen last December gave us two clear signals: First, the scientific consensus is that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are already having a devastating impact on the ecosphere that supports all life, and this will get very much worse in the future. The clear implication of this, along with the peaking of global oil production, is that our current way of life cannot and will not continue. We are entering an unavoidable period of energy descent.

Secondly, Copenhagen demonstrated that our governments are simply not going to be able to rise to the occasion in time to mitigate the impacts of global warming. We’re going to have to learn how to adapt to the consequences.

Because of Bill McKibben, the numbers 3-5-0 are indelibly embedded in our collective consciousness as a threshold we should never have crossed and now to which we must work our way back down. Bill has helped build awareness of our predicament around the globe, and he has helped us realize that we now must urgently move from awareness-raising to commitment, followed by rigorous action—beginning locally.

As Bill suggests, it takes a community to respond to global warming. And if we take what he is saying seriously, starting right here in Boulder, we must now unequivocally commit together to quickly transitioning off of fossil fuel dependence, to learning how to feed ourselves locally again, and to learning how to make our communities resilient and self-reliant for our most essential needs.

To put it bluntly, if we follow Bill’s arguments, the inescapable conclusion we will come to is that we must commit as communities to simply ending our contribution to global warming. Could that begin here in Boulder? Could we inspire other communities to do the same?

Well, it’s going to take far more than “two techs and a truck” here in Boulder to do this. It’s probably going to take more like ten thousand neighbors and whole fleets of bicycles! And it’s going to take a real revolution in local food and local farming, something we’re helping to catalyze with our county-wide EAT LOCAL! Campaign and 10% Local Food Shift Challenge and Pledge.

Let’s not leave here tonight without making a commitment to Bill and to ourselves that we will rise to the occasion here in Boulder and Boulder County—that we will quickly end our contribution to global warming. And meanwhile, let’s give Bill McKibben the hero’s welcome that he deserves!


A Teaching Moment

Paul Krugman suggests that the BP oil spill in the gulf may be just what the environmental movement needs to get back on the public agenda, given what he observes about public sentiment: For one thing, as visible pollution has diminished, so has public concern over environmental issues. According to a recent Gallup survey, “Americans are now less worried about a series of environmental problems than at any time in the past 20 years.”

To read more, visit the New York Times here.