By Stephanie Pressler
What’s the number one reason for sustainability? According to Colin Tetreault, it’s “one hot rock.”
The members of Class 32 sat in awe, clutching our reusable water bottles, as we heard from Tetreault and others on the importance of sustainability to protect and secure that hot rock we call Earth.
As it turns out, sustainability isn’t just about recycling your plastic bottles or shutting off the faucet when brushing your teeth, though both are important. Sustainability touches social, economic and environmental issues. Fortunately, in Scottsdale, we have businesses, governments and citizens dedicated to sustainable practices for the betterment of the community. Those individuals and entities are rivaling the notion that the metro Phoenix area is the “world’s least sustainable city,” as deemed by Andrew Ross in the book, “Bird on Fire.”
Throughout the day, we heard from such stewards. And while they spoke, certain phrases and words struck me as important.
“We all know that water is precious and needs to be conserved,” said Heather Macre, a Central Arizona Project board member. Leeann Yacuel of Salt River Project reiterated that when she said, “We can all save a little bit of water.” CAP is looking to conserve water on a wholesale level for the entire state, and SRP is educating its customers about ways to cut back on personal water usage. On average, one person uses 120 gallons in 24 hours. As concerned murmurs spread amongst group about our resort-style community, Yacuel put some minds at ease when she noted that “pools may not be monsters” and Scottsdale’s golf courses use reclaimed water.
Moving beyond water conservation, Tetreault, a sustainability scholar with Arizona State University and perhaps our most quotable speaker of the day, widened the scope of the conversation. “What do you want things to look like in the future?” he asked us. He highlighted how sustainable practices can impact revenues and branding for city governments and businesses, but shared that sustainability can also help “create a just and future society that blossoms.”
Later in the day, we saw just how Scottsdale blossomed with the creation of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which Scottsdale Vice Mayor Virginia Korte called Scottsdale’s “miracle.” By creating the largest urban preserve in the United States, Scottsdale has protected large swaths of the Sonoran Desert. In that delicate ecosystem, there live mountain lions, deer, rattlesnakes, pack rats and more – we saw the scat to prove it during our docent-led tour of the Bajada Nature Trail.
I’ll leave you with this last quote, which was uttered throughout the day, from both speakers and Class 32’s resident scientist Laurie LaPat-Polasko. “Yes, climate change is real.” And once we as a society acknowledge as much, sustainability and stewardship become all the more important.