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Sustainable Housing in Tucson: Past, Present, and Future

Tucson architect Bob Vint and local sustainable building advocate David Eisenberg will explore some of the local traditional designs, materials, and building systems, as well as current and future challenges and opportunities for our buildings here in the age of climate change. This will include a look at the form and performance of historic building approaches in the Southwest, problems with our existing housing stock, and some technical insights about building performance, material choices, climate impacts, and rehabilitation strategies.

Bob will draw on his extensive study of regional architecture and his work with traditional and some alternative building materials. David will weave his three decades of building experience, and his work with alternative building materials and systems, codes and standards, and building science into potential solutions to our challenges for both new and existing buildings.

Meet Our Speakers:

David Eisenberg co-founded and has led the Tucson-based nonprofit Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT) since 1992. DCAT launched their program Building Sustainability into the Codes in 1995, seeking to create a sustainable context for building codes. David’s wide-ranging building experience—from troubleshooting construction of the high-tech cover of Biosphere2, to conventional concrete, steel, masonry, wood, adobe, rammed earth, and straw bale construction—has grounded DCAT’s codes and standards work in real-world building experience. He co-authored The Straw Bale House book, and has worked extensively on developing building codes for sustainable techniques and materials, including straw bale construction, cob, and tiny houses, among others. David served two terms on the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Board of Directors where he founded and chaired USGBC’s Code Committee for nine years. David now serves on the boards of Sustainable Tucson and the Tucson 2030 District.

Bob Vint is a native Arizonan, born at Ft. Huachuca. He has practiced architecture in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Massachusetts since 1986. After working with architectural firms in Boston and Tucson, Bob established his independent practice in 1993. Among his many projects are the preservation of the Mission San Xavier del Bac; design of the San Xavier Franciscan Friary and San Xavier Mission School; Linda Ronstadt’s Tucson residence; the main entrance of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Pima County; and preservation of the Bisbee Central School. In addition to running an active architectural practice, Bob is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the School of Architecture at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where since 2011 he has taught the History & Theory of Urban Design. He also holds an annual seminar on Arid Region Urbanism, with field trips to relevant sites from Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures, including into the neighboring state of Sonora, Mexico.

Tuesday, March 9, 6:00-8:00 pm
Join us virtually at: Zoom Meeting

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Climate Change – Impacts on Health

Extreme weather and Worsening Air Quality

Throughout this past year, while COVID-19 has kept us laser-focused on health — our own and that of friends, family, and everyone around us — at the same time we have seen and experienced dramatic weather extremes. Locally and around the country, we’ve had everything from devastating forest fires to snowstorms, from record-setting heat to record-setting hurricanes, drought and floods. Our local Bighorn Fire may not have been the worst, but the heavy smoke from the Bighorn was amplified by “imported” smoke coming from the fires in Southern California. Our triple-digit temperatures stretched into the fall, challenging flora and fauna alike. The consensus is that the intensity of these phenomena is heightened by climate change, with still more extremes in coming years.

So what kinds of effects can we expect to face, and how will we need to respond? Our February Monthly Meeting will explore these issues, focusing on “Climate Change Impacts on Health.”

Our two presenters are Charles Geoffrion, currently the vice president of the Pima Country Board of Health, and Karen Wilhelmsen, with Pima County Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Air Program. Charles previously served as Associate Vice President for Research and Research Integrity Officer at UArizona. He also served as a board director for Allied BioScience, Inc. and helped develop a surface coating that reduces secondary infections in hospitals and is now EPA-approved for use in preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2. He has lectured on climate issues and in particular the effects of global and regional warming on human and environmental health. Karen joined PDEQ in 1999 to provide environmental outreach and education. She is Community Education Manager for the department’s Clean Air Program, providing your and adult education programs on air quality, alternate modes of transportation, and related environmental topics.

Join us for a timely discussion Tuesday, February 9, from 6:00-7:30 pm, at this Zoom link.

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Event

Climate 2021: Where are we now? Where do we need to go?

Images of climate catastrophes.

The world has just passed the 5th anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement (and we in the US await rejoining that Agreement). Locally the City of Tucson’s Climate Emergency Declaration has provided a clear recognition of what we face and suggests many of the actions needed in response.
 
Join us on January 12, 6:00 pm, online, for an update on where we are in Arizona in the face of the climate crisis, and where we need to go, both in action and policy.
 
At this first monthly meeting of 2021, UA Professor Gregg Garfin will present an overview of the current climate picture and prospects for the future in Arizona, with particular focus on Southern Arizona. Then UA Professor and State Senator-elect Kirsten Engel will look at what’s needed in the way of policy for our region and state, and what impacts national policies can have on our region. This will include what’s likely to come up in our State Legislature and what policy directions we – as an organization and as individuals – can and should advocate for.
 
Join us for this important start to the Year of Change – 2021, to energize our ST community for action. Then, consider becoming an Ambassador for Sustainability and participating in the Climate Communication Workshop.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 6:00pm MST
Link to recording of meeting

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Event

Sustainapalooza! Creative Celebration

Join us for a fun-filled virtual party full of games and family-friendly performances. There is so much good work being done in our desert community. What better way to celebrate it than by showcasing our artists for sustainability?

Tuesday, December 8, 2020 at 6pm MST
https://meet.google.com/izw-crbr-utr

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Towards a Zero Waste Life in Tucson

Photo of waste.

Join us at our November Topical Issue Meeting for an exploration into living with zero waste intentions in Tucson. Your hosts for this evening’s discussion will be the Co-Chairs of our Zero Plastics Waste Committee, Sharia Des Jardins and Kevin Greene.

We will start with an exploration of what is zero waste and how to bring more of those ideals into your daily life here in Tucson. This will be followed by a sharing of what our Zero Plastics Waste Committee is actively doing and how you can get involved!

After all the ideas shared at this meeting, we hope you are inspired to act by participating in Tucson For the World, beginning Monday, November 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm. You can present a bold idea for achieving zero waste, form a team to create a plan, and finish the event ready to act on your idea!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 6pm MST
https://meet.google.com/vbd-topb-mqb

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Tucson declares a Climate Emergency!

On 9 September 2020, the Mayor and City Council of Tucson unanimously approved a resolution declaring a climate emergency, which begins with:

The Mayor and Council of the City of Tucson declare that a climate and ecological emergency threatens our city, region, state, nation, civilization, humanity, and the natural world, and recognize the need for bold action to combat climate change, so that it meets or exceeds the current recommendations of the foremost climate scientists working around the world…

What does this resolution mean for the future of Tucson?

We discussed the climate crisis that motivated our city leadership to act, the affect this resolution will have on city plans and actions, and – most important – what we as Tucsonans can do to realize this “bold action to combat climate change”.

Finally, we hope you are inspired to act by participating in Tucson For the World beginning on Monday, October 26th. You can share a bold idea for addressing the climate crisis, form or join a team, create a plan, and finish the event ready to act on your idea!

View the meeting

This event supported Sustainable Development Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

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Climate Change Communication for Action!

Climate change is a big problem.  All the solutions we need to avert climate disaster already exist and are actionable.  Yet decision makers are falling far short on implementation.  How can we motivate them to respond in time?  How do we empower ourselves and each other as community members and constituents?  Where do we begin when there are so many large issues facing us at this time?  This workshop can help.  

After a brief review of climate challenges, we will explore key communication skills recommended by social psychologists for catalyzing real change.  Our primary reference will be The Psychology of Climate Change Communication published by Columbia University. Then we will discuss the intersection of climate change with systemic inequity and racism, and offer you avenues for effective action that you can develop further at Tucson For the World on September 21st!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 starting at 6pm MST.
Event recording:
https://youtu.be/m98sKuPw2dE

This session supports Sustainable Development Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

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Resilience: Building Strong Communities & Beautiful Neighborhoods

Welcoming image of people in a park in Tucson.

This Topical Issue Meeting has already happened, but you can find the recording on our YouTube channel.

The current pandemic is a bit like living in a Category 5 hurricane we didn’t prepare for. It won’t be the last emergency we face, and probably not the worst. According to Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego – “You cannot anticipate everything that will happen and one crisis does not wait for the other one to finish.” 

Join us for “Strong Communities & Beautiful Neighborhoods”, where we will explore some of the tools we have available to prepare for the next pandemic, the next local climate disruption. We need to prepare for the future we have already set in motion and explore ways we can use the tools at hand to build a more resilient Tucson and a sustainable future.

What sorts of tools? They include:

  • “Complete Streets” to transform our streets into living public spaces that connect people to places and to each other.
  • “Shade Tucson” to plant a million rain- and gray-watered trees.
  • “Neighbors Care Alliance” to build neighborhood support networks for the elderly.
  • Partnerships between schools and neighborhoods to create safe venues for experiential and service learning – and to connect students to their community.
  • Neighborhood and market gardens to provide fresh and delicious local food.
  • Distributed solar power to guarantee uninterruptible power for cooling and water.

“Strong Communities & Beautiful Neighborhoods” will feature a panel of community experts who will discuss some of the many ways we can employ these and other tools to create the beautiful, resilient, and sustainable community we want – and deserve – if we can come together to create it.
 
Join us to explore ways to create a sustainable and resilient Tucson built on strong communities and beautiful neighborhoods and get ready for the Tucson for the World workshop starting on August 24.

Tuesday, August 11th, at 6pm PDT/MST
https://meet.google.com/wmr-fjhx-fdo

This meeting supports Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

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Event

Flattening the Carbon Curve: Living in a Renewable Normal

The ongoing viral pandemic isn’t the only threat we need to address. Shortages of resources, waste, pollution, and an addiction to fossil fuels that is overheating the planet are causing unprecedented damage to the environment our way of life depends on.

Fortunately, it’s not too late. Renewable energy deployments are accelerating globally, promising the ability to live a meaningful and satisfying life without increasing the burden on our planet.

Join us to review progress and priorities in flattening the carbon curve.  Our aim is for everyone present in our virtual meeting to leave with a desire, a plan, and a commitment to take some kind of positive action.

Tuesday, July 14 at 6pm PDT
Join us online at https://meet.google.com/euk-avzh-sga

This event addresses Sustainable Development Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

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Event

The Long Shadow: A Community Discussion

Join Sustainable Tucson for a special Juneteenth community discussion:

  1. Watch the movie The Long Shadow, a documentary by Frances Causey. The filmmakers have made the movie available to Sustainable Tucson to view for FREE from Monday, June 15th through Sunday, June 21st at http://www.thelongshadowfilm.com/sustainabletucson
  2. Join us for a discussion about the film with the filmmaker, Frances Causey, on Juneteenth (Friday, June 19th) at 6pm MST. The discussion will be online at https://meet.google.com/ccp-hugo-ccy

Of all the divisions in America, none is as insidious and destructive as racism. In this powerful documentary, the filmmakers, both privileged daughters of the South, who were haunted by their families slave owning pasts, passionately seek the hidden truth and the untold stories of how America—guided by the South’s powerful political influence—steadily, deliberately and at times secretly, established white privilege in our institutions, laws, culture and economy.

This event addresses Sustainable Development Goals 10, Reduce inequality within and among countries, and 16, Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.