People’s Sustainability Treaties Identifying Common Pathways to Achieving Sustainability

I found this website today when looking for Occupy Wall Street national events.  Of course, I am always intrigued whenever people work to define sustainability!

I was most intrigued that the diversity of the different voices contained in the fourteen “people’s sustainability treaties” for the Rio+20 conference were able to coalesce on three points, three major principles and strategies for achieving sustainability:

Equity, Localizing, and a Global Citizens Movement are what the people’s wisdoms hold in common about how to achieve sustainability.  Re-localizing value, and putting people, embedded in their unique environments, in charge of their own lives is not just fairer, it is also more sustainable.  Such adjusted society-scale behavior would mimic the intelligent, evolved processes in our planetary ecosystems–behavior understood as networks and flow.

Sust Enable: The Metamentary will explore these same themes–among others–in its exploration of “what does sustainability really mean?”


Live: Greenpeace activists attach themselves to anchor of Russian ship assisting oil-drilling rig in the Arctic


What does it mean when human beings, and high profile ones at that, put their lives on the line to defend against a perceived threat to future lives?

These Greenpeace activists, which include their International director, have attached themselves in a small motorboat to the anchor of a massive ship poised to assist in completing the construction of an oil rig in the Arctic.  Their sign proclaims “Do Not Destroy Our Children’s Futures.”  How do these activists connect their “children’s futures” to the issue of this boat completing an oil rig?

On the level of our biological reality, the molecular building blocks of life (water, carbon, etc.) all interconnect and blend together through global systems.  These people seem to be identifying their lives with the importance of the biological quality of life of their children’s futures–which they connect to whether or not more carbon-based fossil fuel is drilled and burned.

For many millenia, humans could survive and thrive on the assumption that our lives would be relatively free from toxic pollutants and extreme weather and temperature fluctuations that could wildly skew our ability to manage our food and water, and destroy species diversity.  But now, can we really say that anymore?  Oil drilling and burning has produced these effects in our lives on a planet-wide scale.  My generation (I was born in 1986) is a generation not just of traditional cyborgs (whose identities are made up of both natural and technological systems), but also we have been biologically shaped by the technological consequences of our recent ancestors.  People my age and younger will have never interacted with the world the way humans had for thousands of years–we cannot experience the world as being predominantly determined by a vast network of self-regulating systems.  My generation’s only “natural” interactions have been with a thoroughly human-influenced landscape, whether we are considering land use, forests, fresh water, atmospheric makeup, or other biological factors once strictly considered in the “natural” domain.

What kind of consequences will this have on my generation’s consciousness?  I think this photograph of direct action, in which people are putting their immediate bodies in danger in an effort to secure the safety and well-being of a broader living system, is something we will begin to see much more of.


Sust Enable as a platform for openly “workshopping” sustainability

Sust Enable has adopted many forms throughout its development from a seed film idea two years ago, derived out of filmmaker/author Caroline Savery’s remarkable struggles with the Sust Enable episode series in 2008.

Caroline wanted to share how her life had been radically altered–for the better–through practically testing her naive, culturally-influenced attitudes about what sustainability means in a three-month “sustainable living” experiment.  With a ten-year background in filmmaking, she wanted to tell this story through the film medium–namely, with a documentary that would illustrate her trials, tribulations, and her maturing philosophy that this one little word, “sustainability,” could encode a massive shift in culture, consciousness and conduct.  And from the tough-earned insights she learned about sustainability, it was important to her to approach the production of the documentary film in an authentically sustainable, holistic way.

This seed developed into an ambitious vision.  What if the entire film production process was built upon an adapting, evolving list of sustainability principles?  The world is currently working out definitions of sustainability in a variety of settings, fields, and lives–are there any emergent, common themes to this movement that the film could use as guidelines and models?  What if the film’s entire process embodied these values–would the final product not only be about what sustainability means, but actually look, feel, and be a more sustainable film?  How would this effort contribute to global sustainability? Continue reading


Expanding the social function of storytelling

At the Evolver Convergence two weekends ago, Daniel Pinchbeck uttered a line that has been echoing in my head ever since.  I’m paraphrasing here, but it was something close to “perhaps the reason for storytelling in cultures is about coordinating behavior.”

Coordinating behavior.  Wow.  Whether in a primitive, small-scale human hunter-gatherer clan, or our massive industrial globalized sprawling society, we tell stories not merely to transmit information critical to survival, but to coordinate our behavior relating to the information.  Stories aren’t just “I found a herd of buffalo–come this way.”  Stories have moral conflicts, often represented by contrasting characters, and they have problem solving (conflict and resolution).  Stories are built on our built-in process to make analogies–stories may even be allegories, which recursively tell two stories at once.  Our stories have models for action embedded in them.  Through our ability to relate emotionally, we imagine ourselves in the place of the hero, and we learn, through the drama of the story, what we ought to do to succeed.

The story of how we, as humanity, might achieve sustainability may not star a single hero.  It may not have an obvious villain.  Since we are the ones that made this mess, and the ones who are compelled to clean it up, maybe the (hi)story of how we might actually orchestrate such a change in behavior requires a hard, deep look at ourselves–at our natures as the source of incredible creativity, profound compassion, and devastating greed.  Thus, our new stories may look drastically different than they ever have. Continue reading


Sea Change for Sust Enable

Hello everyone,

It is my joy to share with you today some new direction for Sust Enable: The Metamentary.

If you are wondering “what has Sust Enable been up to lately?,” I appreciate your curiosity!  The Sust Enable project has evolved through many phases, just like any growing organism.  It has been in a dormant period lately, as we had to honestly assess our capacity as an all-volunteer, micro-budget endeavor.  Sust Enable is about to emerge from a dormant phase, but it is certainly not dead, or even ailing.  It has merely been thoughtfully evolving, same as ever.

The film’s main mission has always been to try to embody sustainability as effectively as possible at all levels of the film’s creation, and thus to serve as an educational model and empowerment tool.  This film is going to try to live up to its working title of “metamentary” by going “beyond” traditional cinema structures and devices (building on, not hating on, I’d like to note!) and innovating a more sophisticated, holistic model of filmmaking, film style, and storytelling–as justified, of course, by our film’s expansive, slippery subject matter.  In this effort to embody sustainability as best we can, at times, the Sust Enable project has:

  • adopted a radically inclusive collective production structure;
  • held Community Feedback Sessions which morphed into Sustainability Jams, where people shared practical sustainable lifestyle skills and shared their perspectives on what sustainability means;
  • employed online collaborative devices to maintain collaboration between all volunteer stakeholders;
  • and we have gone through many different visions of what the film would look like.

And in this ongoing process, I have sheared away a lot of what Sust Enable is not, and discovered amazing insight into what Sust Enable is.

Sust Enable is a very special project.  As its Director, I have recognized that for me to hold the complex vision for what Sust Enable needs to be, my ambitious artistic standards exceed my drive and abilities as Producer.  One thing I have learned is that I need an experienced, highly creative production team to bring this project to life. Continue reading


Sust Enable director Caroline Savery to speak at Evolver Convergence

Caroline Savery will speak at the Evolver Convergence in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, June 2nd from 2:55-3:40pm in the Local Reskilling Room.

Her presentation, entitled “Visionary Cinema: Mirroring a Conscious Evolution,” will explore how evolutions in collective consciousness are mirrored in the films we create, and how recent popular innovations in cinema narratives, language and style–like the increasing popularity of “reflexive” stories and styles–speak to exciting new territory in how we think of ourselves and our challenges.  She will close by discussing how “a metamentary” like Sust Enable–which explores the social struggle to define a “true” meaning of sustainability–builds upon this trend, expanding possibilities for framing our social challenges in our minds and hearts, through using film methods that invite the audience to engage with instead of absorb its story.

Reserve your tickets NOW for this incredible weekend of mind-bending insight from some of the most forward-thinking innovators of our generation.


“Cool It,” or Fire it Up! As Long as you ENGAGE

The best thing we can do to improve the overall conditions of our Earth… is to engage with them.

The protagonist of “Cool It,” Bjorn Lomborg, is vilified perhaps because this is his premise.  Through actually engaging with our complicated state of things, which he feels might creatively combine high-tech and ancient, simple methods of counteracting climate change, and treating seemingly unconnected issues like poverty in order to have an effect on environmental sustainability… this kind of passionately engaged, horizontal, critical and independent thinking is what seems to agitate his opponents the most.  He seems to be saying: What we need to do is engage right now, not continue to play superficial political and economic games that have little relevance to the actual condition of our sustaining ecosystems.  On this, with Bjorn, I agree.

To live fully, to feel, to engage in discourse, intercourse, to reflect and respond, to analyse and alter–to engage.  These are the actions and reactions of life.  Yet why do these things feel so socially subversive… and yet, strangely, so internally accessible and invigorating?  If our world is defined by the irreducible sum of interactions and engagements…  Dive in.   Continue reading


News (new people, new workshops, new momentum!)

The Sust Enable team would like to welcome Meg Koleck and Sarah Megyesy to our project! Meg and Sarah will be serving as Assistant Producer interns for this semester. We really look forward to working with you. And thanks for being so inspired, and for appreciating–or at least tolerating–our ever-in-flux “organic” filmmaking process.

With the help from these two new producers, Sust Enable’s production capacity has expanded! We are looking for people who would like to share their definition of sustainability with us from around the Pittsburgh area. What does it mean to you to “live sustainably?” What parts of your life are “sustainable?”  Why does sustainability matter to you? If you’d like to be interviewed, or know someone who should be interviewed, contact our director Caroline at carolinesavery [at] gmail [dot] com.

Belated thanks to Kevin May (Phil Osophical) for teaching at our last Sustainability Jam on August 11. The topic was “How to Conduct a Gift Circle” and how gift circles relate to sustainability. Our next Sustainability Jam will be on September 8, and the topic is “Maintaining your Bicycle”.  You’re invited! Check out the full invitation here.

In other news… Caroline Savery, our director, will be teaching a workshop on “applying the wisdom of sustainability to activist organizing” at the Building Change Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, October 15th!  Check out the amazing initiative behind the Building Change conference, and read about Caroline’s workshop here.

We are also proud to announce that we have just received our LLC status from the state of Pennsylvania. Hooray, we’re legit!  A lot of good things are happening now, with much forward momentum…

Thanks for your involvement!

– The Sust Enable Crew