Sustainable Star

Just finished one of our weekly discussions about sustainability and Star Island. It went quite well. I’m always inspired by the hard work it takes to navigate organizations and regulatory agencies to actually create change on the ground. Star Island is in the midst of trying to go off diesel as an energy source and onto a mixed system of solar, propane, and conservation. Most of the skeptics have been won over but the devil is in the details…and the details aren’t finished yet. Jack Farrell has done an impressive job of navigating the issues and keeping the community informed.

I’m presuming that this initiative will be successful and lay a foundation for Star Island’s immediate future but deeper specters haunt my dreams. Sustainability as it is usually applied looks at systems and energy flows (sometimes fiscal flows are used as a proxy) within a specified domain. As we increase this to a broader universe externalities become internal. Star is an island in many ways. It stands apart from many cultural norms and tries to sustain certain values in the modern world. Nonetheless it is a part of the modern world and will be swept along with it. This is not the Isle of Iona where some say Christianity survived the collapse of European civilization. Although perhaps in some ways it is. We who have been touched by this place can carry its message into the world.

The big question is what is the message we bring. I don’t think it’s anything specific. There are threads of learning that run through all the conferences. Lessons that are learned through sharing in community, cooperatively working together to create a shared experience. For a week we live on an island and create magic together. How do we bring that magic home? How do we make it last a year? What is in the secret sauce that we can bring back to our communities? I know there’s something there but wouldn’t want to define the what (I think it’s different for everyone), I’m more interested in the how.

Because in the long run of our children’s or grandchildren’s lives we will probably have to give up this island. If sea levels rise too much, no amount of capital spending will preserve us. To make Star truly sustainable we need to make it portable. I do believe that is the task of the next generation of Shoalers.

Please comment with your own ideas of how we might do this.

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