By Lori Singleton, President and CEO, and Dave Skinner, Board Chair
It’s hard to believe we are over halfway through this exciting year. We hope you all have noticed some changes in Arizona Forward this year. As Yogi Berra said, "If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." In this blog post, you’ll get a progress report on our four key 2018 initiatives, an update on the Environmental Excellence Awards presented by SRP and an introduction to some of our newest members. We hope you’ll share this with other people and organizations that could join us in making Arizona a better place to live and work.
The revitalization and restoration of Arizona’s urban waterways is critical to our mission of environmental stewardship. The inaugural Statewide Sustainability Summit in May of this year was a statement of intent from Arizona Forward: We will be active and relevant in Rio Reimagined and the Santa Cruz River Heritage projects; these two projects will alter that landscapes of Arizona’s largest metro areas. Guest speakers from Arizona, California and Texas showcased how large-scale urban waterways projects have succeeded in metro areas nationwide. Projects along the San Antonio River and Los Angeles River are not only inspirational, but proof of concept that the time, energy and resources required to bring projects such as Rio Reimagined and the Santa Cruz River Heritage Project will benefit all Arizonans for future generations. This conversation is just beginning, and Arizona Forward members are beginning to define their role moving forward. Our next step in messaging was at our Southern Council Meeting in July where the panel discussed “Bringing Arizonan’s Back To The Rivers.” We'll keep you informed on ways to get involved as more develops with both of these projects. Also, feel free to reach out directly to Healthy Communities & Sustainable Growth Committee Chair Teresa Harris or Co-Chair Odette Bakker to find out more.
Sometimes, it’s hard to get someone in a desert to care about the forests. But let’s put it this way: We are one catastrophic wildfire away from a water shortage. All of a sudden, the problem has statewide immediacy. We’ve already taken steps to address forest health by joining a successful effort to address fire borrowing practices. If you’re not familiar with fire borrowing, here’s the concept: The federal government sets aside funds to thin forests and take other measures to improve forest health. The prior practice, though, was to use those funds to fight wildfires, which depleted funds available for fire borrowing. Our legislators ended that practice, certainly in part because Arizona Forward members added their voices to this issue. We also hosted a luncheon event to discuss further solutions to our forest health challenge, which includes exploring ways to get the timber industry more involved in thinning overgrown forests. There is more to come from us on this topic.
Venice and Amsterdam are defined by their extensive canal systems. Metro Phoenix has more miles of canals than either of these historic cities, but we’ve literally turned our backs on our canals. The Grand Canalscape project Arizona Forward is undertaking in partnership with SRP and the City of Phoenix aims to transform that approach. The project will upgrade nearly 15 miles of canals with improved multiuser paths, lighting, public art and signaled road crossings – it will also create a new bridge connecting Central High School and Brophy College Preparatory. Arizona Forward members are moving toward reclaiming our canals for pedestrians, for bicyclists, for public art and other creative uses that meet the community’s needs. We are also working toward developing enhancements for the Grand Canalscape project, with options such as pop-up farmers markets and wayfinding apps among the possibilities. We’re also interested in being a resource for other canal redevelopment projects statewide – or even nationwide! If you want to help us continue to transform our canals, please contact Central Regional Council Chair Kathy DeBoer for ways to get involved.
Did you ever expect to leave your house, see a self-driving car and … not really be surprised? That’s where we are today. Autonomous vehicles are among us – testing, learning, continuously improving, and already changing the way we think about future transportation. Arizona Forward is preparing to help policy makers evaluate the progression to this new transportation technology. Our Transportation Committee has connected with experts across the nation to host a series of Autonomous Vehicle Town Halls. These events will help educate and explore the opportunities and impacts from autonomous and connected vehicles, and to enhance our ability to incorporate these concepts into the built environment in different regions of Arizona. WestGroup Research also partnered with us to gauge Arizona drivers’ opinions of autonomous vehicles; there will be a second survey in the future, and we’ll compare responses from both. These surveys will help drive the conversations at our town hall events and will also provide feedback on how opinions about autonomous vehicles are changing. In short, we’re making strides toward providing Arizona decision makers with information they’ll need to determine what’s right for their communities and constituencies as well as opening the eyes of our committees to future opportunities as we incorporate AV into our world. Please contact our transportation committee co-chairs Lauren Evans and Jennifer Pyne if you would like to get involved in our efforts.
The program for our 38th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards presented by SRP is taking shape. Judging recently wrapped up, and planning is underway for an evening that will be a fitting tribute to the many innovative finalists who will be featured during the gala. Invitations have been mailed, so please watch for yours to arrive. We are also seeking sponsors to support Arizona’s most-significant environmental awards program. If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please contact President and CEO Lori Singleton. You can also register today!
This quarter, we welcomed Circonomy Solutions, Hollystreet Studios, Lowell Observatory, Perkins Coie LLP, Ryan Companies, Holistic Engineering and Land Management (HELM), Global Water Resources, Gould Evans, NV5-Technical Engineering & Consulting Solutions, and the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA). We’re very excited to broaden our range of industries represented, as well as add to the ranks of members from outside Maricopa County. Thank you to all the new members for stepping forward to improve Arizona’s natural and built environment!
You can support Arizona's oldest environmental nonprofit. Donate today to make a more resilient, sustainable Arizona!
Please follow us on your favorite social media networks.
We have some great news to share about this year’s Environmental Excellence Awards presented by SRP. Please mark your calendar for Saturday, October 6 at the Westin Kierland Resort.
First of all, we’ve extended the entry deadline to July 9. That’s seven extra days to work on your entries.
We also have some great changes to the program that will make the gala even more engaging:
New Award Categories
Does your organization have a particular person driving its sustainability efforts? Do you know a tireless advocate for improving the environment? They may be just the right candidate to take home a Crescordia in our new Sustainability Champion category, which we created to honor individual efforts. We’re also looking for organizations – waste management companies, municipalities, restaurants, hotels and other hospitality-related companies – to showcase their efforts in our Waste Reduction category.
Tuning Up the Gala
You’ll find this year’s program to be fast-paced, and a new format, which will allow more time for networking and a post-event dessert bar reception.
Display Boards Go Electronic
If you’ve previously arrived early to view the award finalist displays, you’ll notice the transition from printed displays to electronic displays. This will allow venues statewide to display the finalists simultaneously – and it will save us quite a bit of driving!
All Finalists Featured in Awards Booklet
In years past, we’ve kept you waiting to receive the project booklet. This year, all finalists will receive equal space in the brochure. And you’ll be able to see who else is in the running for a coveted Crescordia.
We hope you’re anticipating this year’s Environmental Excellence Awards just as much as we are. Thank you for making this the state’s original and longest-running celebration of sustainable innovations!
-By Jack Emerick
The world and practice of sustainability is a vastly growing and more leaders are emerging every day to shape a better future. These leaders range from CEO’s of multimillion-dollar corporations to chemists. They come from a large array of industries including tech, clothing, and consumer goods. Who are these leaders and how are they impacting and influencing your future? Here are just a few of these sustainability leaders you should know about:
1. Elon Musk - CEO and Chairman, Tesla
Most famously known as the CEO of Tesla, Elon has always been an innovator and change-maker. In his early days, he taught himself how to program which paved the way for a bright future. His wealth began to grow after he created and sold PayPal to Ebay in 2002. He continued to strive to push humankind forward. He founded Tesla, with the goal to provide affordable, mass-market electric cars, while promoting renewable energy. He is a strong advocate for advancement and innovation. After acquiring Solar City, he has since developed highly efficient solar cells. With Space-x becoming highly successful, and his idea of the Hyper-loop gaining some traction, he will continue to shape our future for years to come.
2. Paul Polman - CEO, Unilever
Year after year, Paul Polman continues to lead the way for corporate social responsibility and his held in high regard amongst his peers in terms of sustainability. As the CEO of Unilever, one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, sustainability is no easy task. However, he has championed the art of what it means to be a “Green Company.” He has realized the change that a large company like Unilever can make and has used that to his advantage. In 2012, he was even asked by the UN to help establish their Sustainable Development Goals and as the only corporate executive on this committee, he gained renown. As Unilever is changing, they are considering a successor to Polman possibly. The legacy he has built at Unilever is a strong one, however the mark he has left on the world is much larger.
3. Christiana Figueres - Former Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Christiana is recognized as a leader on global climate change. After the failed negotiations in Copenhagen, she powered through and was determined to create a successful framework. Her work came together finally in the Paris Agreement of 2015. She has received several awards and recognition including the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of Germany, the Legion of Honor of France, and the Grand medal of the City of Paris. She continues to bring together powerful people including leaders of government, corporations, financial institutions, technology, and NGO’s to create her own brand of diplomacy. She encourages major players to talk about climate change as a serious matter and stresses the need to come together as a global entity to get back on track.
4. Michael Braungart - Chemist, Co-author of Cradle to Cradle
Michael is one of the founding fathers of the idea of Cradle to Cradle which is discussed in a book of the same name. This is a simple idea, but also a profound one. It urges us to change the way we make and develop products and other goods. By developing production and production process in a loop instead of a linear cycle, it is not only harmless to man or nature, but even beneficial. Cradle to Cradle also keeps several sustainability aspects in mind including health, the environment, economics, and society. It limits harmful chemicals in products and the financial costs of systems is shown to be lower. Dr. Braungart has won several awards including the Impose Award, Hero of the Planet Award from TIME Magazine, and the Urban Mining Award.
Jack Emerick is a student intern at Arizona Forward and a senior at Arizona State University studying sustainability and minoring in business. He served four years in the United States Marine Corps before moving to Scottsdale, AZ. His hobbies include snowboarding, hiking, and traveling. He hopes to someday run his own business using sustainable techniques and practices.
Suzanne Shelton, founder of the sustainability-focused marketing company Shelton Group, led a discussion featuring:
Thanks to more than 250 guests, we had a lively, insightful event. We took care of some internal business before launching our keynote discussion. For those who didn’t make it, here are some of the key takeaways:
If you attended, what resonated with you?
Interested in driving initiatives that will impact quality of life for Arizona far into the future? Find out how you can join us in leaving a positive environmental legacy!
As director of the Center for Transboundary Water Management at the Arava Institute, Dr. Lipchin (pictured below) has worked with water professionals and policy makers across the globe from the Institute’s campus in the Arava of the Negev Desert. He regularly interfaces with students and academics in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan to address regional water issues. Like Arizona, Israel is confronted by: an arid climate; political, philosophical and economic boundaries; and off-grid communities.
Here are a few key points from his presentation:
The issue of private water rights and multiple authorities at all level of government presents a different set of challenges for the United States. But there's reason to be optimistic considering Israel's success through technology and focusing on the common good in the long term. Which of these key points do you see applying to our challenges in Arizona?
By Rob Anderson – Director, Fennemore Craig; Board of Directors Member and Water Subcommittee Chair, Arizona Forward
Author: Jon Ford, Vitalyst Health Foundation
Welcome to Arizona Forward’s relaunched website. It's a new look for us. As anyone who has ever designed or redesigned a website knows, it is also an organizational opportunity to be as clear as possible about our work.
We designed the site to be a more welcoming resource for what we're up to, and for understanding our "why." Simon Sinek, creator of one of the most popular TED Talks of all time and author of the bestseller “Start With Why,” has consulted with organizations around the world. His message? An organization's "why" serves as a much more long-term strategic fuel and focus than any "what" possibly could.
Our purpose and our value must be clear. How else would you know whether you'd like to be part of Arizona Forward, when you should call us to the table for a new dialogue, or how we can help you succeed?
So why does Arizona Forward exist? Purely for this reason: to leverage our collective power.
Leverage that power to what end? To influence how we best do three things:
1. Grow our communities,
2. Stimulate our economy, and
3. Enhance our environment
The trick, and the power of Arizona Forward, lies in balancing these three areas. Focusing solely on enhanced environment can be viewed as detrimental to economic growth for example. But at Arizona Forward, we don't believe in "either-or" solutions. We believe that our collective knowledge and innovation capacity can produce "both-and" potential.
In a nutshell, that's why we're here. That's why we come together. That's why we are moving Arizona Forward.
Enjoy the new site. As always, give us your feedback. Most importantly, join us in making our "why" into solutions for our unique and amazing state.
3800 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85012