Southern Illinois Sustainable Business Webinar Series Part 1: WHAT IS “SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS” AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Southern Illinois Sustainable Business Webinar Series Part 1: WHAT IS “SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS” AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Cassie Carrol from the Illinois Green Business Association gave the first of four webinars on Thursday, Feb. 3rd about sustainable business. You can watch the video here:

Sustainability continues to gain momentum nationwide and large corporations continue to drive innovation. Consumers are also seeking ways to not only be sustainable but want to support products and businesses with sustainability missions and activities. In this session, we’ll define sustainability in business and review how consumers are driving a more sustainable economy. Sustainability not only benefits your business, but also benefits your local community. We will discuss the benefits of incorporating green practices into your company and dig into some ways your business can start aligning your business and activities to meet this growing demand for a clean and green economy.

Haven’t signed up for the series yet? Get more info and register here:

Reminder: Carbondale Community Resilience Fair Saturday

Virtual Event this Saturday Provides Education, Community Conversations, Networking and Celebration of Community Resilience and Sustainability

Everyone is encouraged to attend this virtual event, to find their niche in the upside of taking action on climate change. This event, held virtually this Saturday, August 28, 1-3:30 p.m., aims to accentuate bold action on climate change—action that leads to improved safety and security for current and future generations, better public health, conservation of nature and biodiversity, and business and job growth. There’s now no doubt that human activities have unnaturally disrupted our world’s natural climate systems, causing problems that will only get worse if we don’t act boldly. Global temperatures are rising and will continue to rise, leading to sea level rise, extreme weather, and shifts in habitats and growing seasons. You can register for the zoom at

The good news is, we have the solutions. Our outdated laws, energy and economy can and must be adapted to reduce the harm and disruption that they cause to humans, animals and natural systems. People have the power to change the outdated and harmful institutions and to build out clean energy and ecosystems that reduce pollution, create jobs and economic systems that equitably benefit workers, and allow all to lead purposeful, healthy lives.

More information about the event agenda, speakers, and network partners is available at the Resilience Fair website: This free event is for anyone in the Carbondale and surrounding communities interested in community sustainability and resilience. Everyone is welcome to join us and participate in discussions of our community’s future. Registration for attending is at the website address above or directly at This event is the first in a series in Carbondale and other locations across southern Illinois and is aimed at helping our community members navigate these challenging times.

The key to meeting these challenges is our working together to accomplish goals we all can agree on, such as better health, conservation of nature and more and better jobs. The old ways that are causing harm need to be stopped, their workers and communities supported, and the new ways built out and celebrated. Thus the first hour of this event, 1 to 2 pm, will focus on education: on the impacts of climate change and on new models, such as worker-owned cooperative business models, that will help our community bring about positive change for our community and for the natural environment we are part of and depend on. During this first hour, speakers include:

  • Dr. Justin Schoof, Director of the SIU School of Earth Systems and Sustainability, and Professor of Geography and Environmental Resources. He will discuss climate change impacts for southern Illinois, and the recently released IPCC Sixth Assessment Report on climate science.
  • Sean Park, Program Manager of the Value-added Sustainable Development Center at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs. He provides technical assistance and training on business plan development and business start-up to cooperatives and other rural businesses in all sectors. He will discuss worker cooperatives and the opportunities for local worker-owned business models.
  • Gary Willams, Carbondale’s City Manager, and Saxon Metzger, Carbondale Sustainability Commission member, will update the community on the City’s initiatives for advancing Carbondale’s sustainability and on progress made thus far by the Commission on a draft of the Sustainability Action Plan.

Hour 2 of this event, 2 to 3 pm, will be devoted to a community conversation on concerns those attending have about issues their neighborhoods face and on their ideas for bringing about positive change that will make their neighborhoods more resilient. This conversation, focusing on priorities for community resilience, will be guided to bring out ideas that can be integrated into the five areas of the Sustainability Action Plan. Community members are encouraged to attend in order to add their voices to this community conversation and to the Sustainability Action Plan.

A number of groups are already at work on innovative community projects that will make Carbondale more resilient. To promote awareness of this work and promote networking across shared interests, from 3-3:30, during the “celebration” part of the event, several organizations will share their stories about local resilience, information about their resources, including funding available, and how to get involved. Several organizations locally and regionally already provide resources and will be at the event for networking and sharing:

  • City of Carbondale Sustainability Commission
  • Southern Illinois Cooperative Business Fund
  • The Climate Economy Education Inc
  • SENSE (Students Embracing Nature, Sustainability, and Environmentalism)
  • Shawnee Group Sierra Club
  • The Women’s Center
  • Illinois Initiative
  • Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois
  • United Nations Association of the USA – Southern Illinois Chapter
  • Southern Illinois Collaborative Kitchen
  • Buffalo Bluffs Hemp Farm
  • Local Business Directory and Pollinator
  • University of Illinois Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES)
  • SIU Green Roof Team
  • Just Transition Fund
  • Solarize Southern Illinois
  • Food Works
  • USDA – Emergency Rural Health Care Grants
  • Southern Illinois Food Pantry Network – Supporting Food Security in Southern Illinois Mini-Grants

The upside of taking bold climate action is immeasurable in terms of better public and environmental health, jobs and sustainable economic growth. We have the technology and all the models and information we need; what we need most is for every person, every member of every community, to be taking action. Attend the resilience fair and find your niche. Contact information:

Get more information about the August 28 event in Carbondale, as well as other events coming up across southern Illinois this fall at the Resilience Fairs website:

To get more information about the City of Carbondale Sustainability Commission’s Climate Action Plan, contact Jane Cogie, 618-713-7024 or

To get help organizing a resilience fair in your community, contact Amy McMorrow Hunter,, 618-713-2896.

Calculate Your Degrees of Separation from Extraction – Discussion

Calculate Your Degrees of Separation from Extraction – Discussion

It’s really hard to get paid for doing a job nowadays that’s not either directly involved in unsustainable natural resource extraction or closely related to it. Obvious extraction is anything that’s digging up or cutting down natural resources in an unsustainable way. Extraction includes big ag, in that we’re altering the natural landscape so much that it’s no longer able to naturally support itself. This is bad because it’s contributing to drastic climate change, species extinction, migration of human populations, all kinds of unnatural, difficult things. We’re just sucking all the life out of it and then leaving it behind. That’s the extraction we’re talking about. It’s so unnecessary to do it that way but it’s the only way we’re going to get paid because that’s the way our economy is set up. We’re feeding the virus. What’s you’re situation?

  1. You are directly involve in an extractive job or company. 
  2. Your work or products are dependent upon production in the extractive industry, for example
    • architecture, building, you need literally tons of processed resources, wood, concrete, metal, etc. (unless you’re building net-zero let’s say), and you’re using lots of energy
    • medicine, healthcare, chemicals make up the medicines, single-use devices, made from fossil fuels, and production of the chemicals causes the pollution that makes people sick 
    • retail/restaurant, unless your products/services are local/renewable, your business depends upon extraction.
    • You depend upon shipment of your products or require use of networks using extractive energy. 
    • You work online and need to use a phone. All that needs energy, and nowadays that’s still mostly extractive.
    • Renewable energy: people don’t like to think about this, but we have to consider the extractive side of this. We can definitely calculate on a lifecycle value that renewables are less extractive, but who is out there calculating emissions from the production of the massive amount of solar energy needed? I think it’s been done with modeling but we have to continuously be working towards improving this situation, and not just pretend like it’s not an issue.
  3. You are being supported by your partner while you pursue your “passions” for climate action or sustainability, or you’re supported by donors who have benefited from extraction.

This reminds me of my economics teacher and cross country coach “Windy” Childs in high school who said on the first day of economics class: If you can tell me something that’s free, you get an automatic A for the semester. Of course he always could come up with a way to describe how something someone came up with was not actually free. We might try to say that public school teachers are exempt, but then we have to assume that they’re getting paid from taxpayer dollars which may not be “clean,” or taxes collected from local extractive industries. Midwives maybe? Natural practitioners? There are so few things and they’re so hard to make into a job that supports one enough to do it as a stand-alone job. Most of the time we’re hearing about how activists have other jobs or are supported by their organization that’s out raising funds. There’s no “sustainable” money in it, because our society does not value it properly. Obviously someone out there fighting to make things safer or less pollutive to society is doing a valuable service.

But it’s too hard to think about all this stuff, we all have too much on our plates already!! And obviously we can’t just stop doing any or all of these things that are connected to unsustainable extraction. They are literally essential to our survival in some ways. We all have to use the internet and power our phones right?? There’s almost no way to extricate ourselves from it. Almost. And we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We have to improve if we can, or we stagnate and just perpetuate the behavior that’s literally contributing to our early demise. That’s why we have to transform our economy. Not simple, but worth doing. We have to stop thinking that we “have” to do things the way they’ve always been done. We have to extricate those tentacles of extraction that are (deliberately for profit) tentacled into our lives. We can choose to start to contribute to purposeful change! We just have to, all of us, decide to do it. The more we talk about it, the better. Please login or register and leave comments!

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Three Good Habits for Contributing to Purposeful Change

Three Good Habits for Contributing to Purposeful Change

If you’re like me, you’re thinking about never reading the news again because it’s so depressing, scary and confusing. I want to help but I don’t know what to do, and everyone’s pointing fingers at everyone else. Heat waves and record high temperatures out west. More than half of animal species at risk. Climate migrants at our borders fleeing or dying from drought and upheaval in their home countries. The freaking ocean is on fire.

It seems hopeless. Well, it’s not, humans are perfectly capable of making positive, purposeful change. But it is beyond urgent that everyone is making good decisions and taking action every day in relation to climate change and everything that is happening in relation to the changes. Most of the negative things happening are directly connected and related to human behavior. What does that even mean though? How do we tackle the biggest problems of our lifetimes? Well, there are three good habits you can work on that will help you do your part to meet these challenges.

First, we can and must fight unwanted disruptive change with purposeful individual AND systemic change. Pretending like something isn’t happening while it’s happening right in front of our faces is unproductive and unhelpful, and frankly dishonest. Everything is constantly in motion so there’s no point in fighting against change by denying it, and we should be aware and accountable when our behavior causes harm to others or nature. In fact, we all must take responsibility as American citizens and decent human beings to be aware of the change that is underway to the best of our ability and to act accordingly. It’s alarming and undesirable to think that we are causing harm and therefore must change our behaviors, but the great thing is this: we can make changes that are good in every way, for us and others and nature, and in the long and short term. We fight the chaos by purposefully making good decisions that are good for us in the short run and will also help reduce the chaos in the long run. That means we’re changing how we live our lives in terms of what we buy and how we behave, but it also means we have to consciously fix the systems that sustain us. We can’t always know exactly what’s going to happen but it’s sensible and responsible to be prepared.

Second, we can use a simple system of checks to determine if something is at least taking us in the right direction, and has a worthwhile purpose. When we’re looking at a behavior, making a decision, thinking about sharing a post or news article, or trying to determine if something is good or bad (or right or wrong), look at the following three criteria together:

  1. Climate: is whatever we’re looking at good for the climate, meaning good for nature, meaning clean air and water, meaning protecting animals and biodiversity? If it’s harmful in any way, we have to find a better way. It’s totally possible. Humans are part of nature, not separate from it. We don’t “have” to do things that are harmful because someone tells us there’s no other way. Of course there are other ways. People can change, and things can change, sometimes it takes time and effort.
  2. Economy: Is what we’re looking at going to be good for the economy, and that means good for the regular person and more spread out, not just big business? For example, we don’t “have” to stick to the old ways of maximizing profits for shareholders, I mean that’s not a law, it’s just something that people made up. B-corps and worker cooperatives already are doing better here. We can use our creativity and make up new, better ways for getting the things we need and want. We need economic solutions that don’t funnel all the money to the top and leave everyone else fighting for the scraps and unable to get the basic needs of life. There are lots of ways to do things that share profits, create jobs, and do all kinds of positive things, not just for the billionaire CEO’s and shareholders. We can fix this, or we can at least do our best trying.
  3. Humanity: is what we’re looking at harmful to humans? Not just in terms of human health, but also those things like mental health and feeling a sense of belonging? When we see that prices are going up at McDonalds, maybe instead of getting mad and driving off we think about how their workers are now getting paid $12, closer to a living, dignified wage. Or we reject shareholders foisting their cut in profits onto the consumer and buy from a local burger joint. Places like McDonalds and Walmart are not the problems per se, it’s the people and how we’re treating each other, sometimes in just outright wrong ways, or the laws that have been put in place that give big corporations an unfair advantage to influence how people live. It’s complicated, there’s not always a “right” answer, and there are trade-offs and different choices we can make. But in any case we absolutely can and should take the time and effort to value human life and well-being over corporate profits.

Third, we must ensure that we are getting our information on which we base our decisions from trusted sources. The truth is out there, but sometimes it’s hard to find. You might count on a friend or your pastor or a scientist or our own research for the truth. We have to make sure wherever we get our information, that they are using the 1/2/3 checks above, and not saying things that aren’t true for whatever reason. They may be trying to exploit attitudes for their own personal or financial gain, or they may be misguided by fear or ignorance (lack of true information). This is extremely common in our society.

For example: despite knowing for decades now that burning oil and gas was screwing up our atmosphere in really bad ways, oil, gas and coal companies have been deliberately misleading the public, just like cigarette companies did. This is how they protect their profits, at any cost to our society. “A few of you may die so we can make lots of profits, but that’s a risk we’re willing to take” is their motto. Well, that’s just not OK. Also, there are different levels of truth and this can be use to confuse us and kick us off the track. For example, it’s true that burning fossil fuels has raised our standard of living and taken may people out of poverty. It’s also true that it’s damaging to the environment and people’s health, and we have found better ways of doing it that won’t cause the same levels of harm. It’s also true that pumping old and gas through pipelines is safer than sending it by train, but this statement does not belie the fact that we are causing damage by burning stuff we don’t actually don’t need to burn in the first place. Another example: switching to electric vehicles causes less air pollution that causes all kinds of health problems, and is cheaper and less polluting in the long run even if you’re plugging your EV into the electric utility that is burning coal. We can’t fix everything at once, but we do now have alternatives that we can move towards instead of fighting over things that will still cause the same problems at the end. We can and should choose better, smarter ways that cause less harm. We don’t have to believe that we have to do things a certain way, or that just because we’ve always done it that way we still should. We have to be able to make the best possible decisions based on the best truth that we can. Here’s a tutorial on checking sources in relation to energy and fossil fuels.

This is not someone else’s problem to work towards purposeful change, it’s each and every one of us who needs to take up this responsibility as Americans, or we’re going to head back to the dark ages. If you don’t believe this, the mega-billionaires out there do. They’re setting up safehouses and strategies for when the sh*t hits the fan and our society falls apart, because their high-priced financial advisers and consultants are telling them that there is a high risk that the sh*t is going to hit the fan. They know it but they do their best at keeping the rest of us in the dark so they can keep making money at any cost to the long-term health of our society. But how is that going to really protect them when they’re isolating themselves? We have to work together as a society, because we live in a society with all kind of different people. We have to be aware as individuals what’s actually happening out there and take responsibility for making good decisions. This literally means that when we hear about a headline on the news, from a friend or in the paper, we should 1) take up the responsibility to get to the truth of what’s happening, 2) use our checklist to make sure something’s good for climate/economy/humanity, and 3) make sure we’re using trusted sources of information. 

Protecting nature and animals and making life more economically comfortable and fulfilling for ALL is not something that should divide us, unless we’re seriously selfish and out of touch with reality. It’s not weak, soft or shameful to show care towards other human beings and nature. For some reason, it’s a really unpopular opinion and regarded as alarmist or ignorant that we should take responsibility for reducing harm in every choice we make. That’s the main thing that exploitative organizations and people are preying on, so we have to use our personal powers to make sure we’re not getting used for someone else’s or our own selfish gain. No one is going to be perfect here, we just have to at least do our best to be true to ourselves and others. Nothing is black and white but it’s totally possible to make good choices about what to actually believe and how to act on those beliefs.

So when we read those depressing, scary, confusing headlines, instead of feeling hopeless and giving up, use these rules of thumb in order to start to change your habits. Find out the truth so you can take meaningful action to contribute to purposeful change that is absolutely the critical challenge of our lifetime.

Please add your comments and thoughts below.

Press Release: Go Solar SI! Solar Discussion April 14

Press Release: Go Solar SI! Solar Discussion April 14

April 8, 2021, Southern Illinois – Clean energy and climate change adaptation and mitigation opportunities are the biggest moment of our time. A series of events this April and May are kicking off a concerted #AllTogetherNowSI effort to organize our communities around the efforts to bring these new opportunities to the southern Illinois region, for the benefit of current and future generations. All event schedules and related information are at

One of our biggest here-and-now opportunities is solar energy (yes there are more big here-and-now opportunities and we’ll be talking about those too at other events in April). Coal plants in southern Illinois continue to close because they’re not economically competitive, people are losing jobs and communities are losing their tax base. Rebuilding our communities with solar energy brings good union jobs, great investment opportunities, cleaner air and water, and educational opportunities for our youth to help prepare them for their renewable energy future. This is a long-term effort, and there are many things already happening in southern Illinois where people can get involved and benefit from change to business models and lifestyles that are good for the climate, economy and humanity. That includes solar energy. 

We’re having a panel discussion of solar experts who are working in our southern Illinois communities on April 14 at 4:30-6:00 p.m. All the event details, links to registration and sponsorship opportunities for this long-term community effort are at Here is a list of our panelists:

  • Beau Henson will talk about Solarize SI, the solar group buy program that is currently underway. They’re just kicking off their second year of the program.
  • Aur Beck of AES Solar, will talk about Coal2Sol, a solar program for nonprofits. Third-party investment in solar systems for nonprofits benefit the investors, the nonprofits and their communities.
  • Shannon Fulton of StraightUp Solar will talk about “Cooperative Owners for Solar.” Cooperatives in the region have higher energy prices and less options for solar energy. Member-owners can help fix that.
  • Scott Allen of the Citizens Utility Board will talk about the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act, one of the pieces of clean energy legislation that Illinois lawmakers will be considering for adoption to increase clean energy jobs and investment in the state.

The main topics covered by the panelists will be followed with Q&A so we can dig down deep into the southern Illinois issues. Scott Allen of the Citizens Utility board said:

Significant changes to the way we generate, deliver and use electricity are coming, not just in Illinois, but nationally and globally as well. This massive infrastructure overhaul will create new economic opportunities, allow for corrections to established systems, and re-determine the way that we interact with utilities. In Illinois, we have an opportunity to ensure that the status quo is overturned. We can make policies that create wealth more equitably, protect human health, and prepare our grid for the future.  

Amy McMorrow Hunter, President/CEO of The Climate Economy Education Inc (TCE), is the host and moderator of this discussion. Additional sponsors include the Just Transition Fund, experts in helping coal communities transition their economies after coal shutdowns, and, a locally-owned business directory. TCE’s events are always recorded and put up on our YouTube channel. The change that we need will come from our communities. We can learn what’s happening in our communities to create positive change, and learn how we can get involved today. 

The Climate Economy Education Inc is a local nonprofit for education on business models and lifestyles that are good for the climate, economy and humanity. TCE also runs the CLimate Economy Action Network at, also funded by the Just Transition Fund.  Everything on is free and up and running and available 24/7 so people can check in and get involved when they have time. is all about making it super easy for people take target actions that reduce harmful emissions, increase community resilience, increase civic engagement or help others. Online courses are available so people can hone their skills on the hottest emerging topics that are relevant to southern Illinois. Also, we’re building our community. facilitates online groups, discussions and project management so when the time is right, we take it offline and get some work done outside. Youth programs are also available. It’s all an evolving, long-term project for southern Illinois. Signing up on the is free and people can earn points and rewards for taking positive target actions.

This President’s Day, Celebrating President Biden’s Aggressive Climate and Jobs Agenda

First of all, can I just say how nice it is to have a president who is clearly super excited and proud to be our president and to be out there and working to protect lives and improve things for all Americans using science and compassion? There’s my hopefulness, now back to reality. We have a lot to do, and we have to make sure and hold President Biden and his administration accountable. These are crucial times of change. It was great to see right away a bold climate and jobs agenda getting out there. On his first day in office, President Biden signed several climate- and energy-related executive orders including the following:

  • Empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050
  • Federal agencies should buy only carbon-free electricity and zero-pollution vehicles
  • Commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030
  • Calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work
  • Creates a government-wide Justice40 Initiative with the goal of delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities


Sounds freaking great. Let’s do this. If you want to start boning up on your climate and energy knowledge, take the Clean Energy and Jobs course. Cheers!