Josh Hahn, an activist and educator known in the school world for his work promoting sustainable practices, spoke to the Milton faculty at their meeting on November 19. Josh persuasively makes the case that schools—as small, facile organizations, more capable of rapid change than corporations—are natural leaders in the movement toward responsible living on the planet Earth. Schools, particularly independent schools, can and should leverage the full force of the learning environment to involve students, faculty and staff in building a healthy future. Schools begin by paying attention to principles of sustainability and integrating them into the institutions’ systems and decision-making processes. That redirection helps schools transition toward being regenerative organizations.
Josh is a teacher who has parlayed his experience and interest in the environment into a practice of advising schools. His consulting service, Stone Bridge, “helps schools become more environmentally sustainable through facilitating processes that identify opportunities within six focus areas.” Naming and organizing activity around these six integrated areas allows school communities to focus their energy and initiatives. The categories are: land and water management; energy and green building; procurement and waste streams; community partnerships; curricular development (experiential education), and economic sustainability—development and fundraising.
The effort to develop more aware, energized and responsible citizens of the world, in the face of climate change and environmental degradation, is a challenge well-suited to student-adult collaborative action, Josh notes. Adults think of environmental disasters as issues for the future; students know them to be part of their present world. Students are ready to go, and the opportunity for enriching education in ways that will profoundly affect our collective future is right at hand.