Arizona Forward is just months away from its 50th Anniversary. Over the decades, our members have had a profound and positive influence on the state’s built and natural environment. Many of our current members – especially those serving on the Board of Directors, regional councils and issue committees – have been with us for years. Now, they’re equipping a new generation of advocates to integrate practical sustainability knowledge into the organizations and communities they serve.
Earlier this month, we launched the pilot class of its Emerging Sustainability Leaders program, which consists of 14 participants. The Emerging Sustainability Leaders program is the state’s first sustainability-focused business leadership program of its type; it will guide participants in developing tools to usher in a more sustainable, resilient future.
The program is geared toward early to mid-career professionals who have been identified for their leadership potential. Participants in the pilot class were selected for: their commitment to sustainability; capacity to integrate sustainability into their organization; interest in being a long-term influencer in Arizona’s sustainability initiatives; and the capacity to take on a new challenge. The selection process resulted in a balance of participants from government, nonprofit and business organizations.
Over the past year, Arizona Forward has pursued a focused agenda aimed at influencing long-term transformation in areas such as: urban waterways, including the Rio Reimagined and Santa Cruz River Heritage projects; forest health; clean transportation; and canal redevelopment. The Emerging Sustainability Leaders participants will learn more about these and other efforts essential to the long term economic and environmental future of Arizona. Arizona Forward plans to offer the Emerging Sustainability Leaders program every year.
Congratulations to the pilot class participants, and thank you to those who nominated them! Here is a short bio of each participant; as you can see, they span a variety of disciplines.
For a larger view, please click on the photo.
New categories and an updated show format added plenty of excitement to the 38th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards presented by SRP. The quality and diversity of the entries also made this year's competition one to remember. The organizations and individuals that entered showcased how sustainability continues to improve our quality of life in communities of all sizes.
Let’s take a look back at all the first-place Crescordia winners for some inspiration: Though the 2019 Call for Entries seem far away, it’s never too early to prepare your future Crescordia-winning entry!
THE GOVERNOR’S AWARD FOR ARIZONA’S FUTURE
The Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge
The Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge successfully lobbied to rescind a multi-decade, statewide prohibition against potable reuse, aka “toilet to tap.” And yes, the team also worked with brewers statewide to convince people to drink craft beer made from recycled water!
BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES - CIVIC AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION
Local First Arizona founder Kimber Lanning saved a bungalow that was slated for demolition and gave it new life as the Local First Arizona headquarters. Her effort preserved a piece of Phoenix history while giving it a functional future.
BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES - COMMERCIAL AND INSTITUTIONAL
The Ocotillo Restaurant features desert-adaptive materials and water-harvesting elements that blend perfectly into the Southwest. It’s a sustainable gathering place for all ages that improves the surrounding community.
SITE DEVELOPMENT - LANDSCAPE AND PRESERVES*
Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative (NAZPHI)
The Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative promotes the creation, protection and registration of pollinator habitat across Northern Arizona, while highlighting the important role pollinators fulfill in the global food supply. The initiative also provides guidance to other communities who’d like to replicate the effort.
Tohono Chul Park Master Plan
The Tohono Chul Park Master Plan is the culmination of consistent, considered effort that began in 2001 and resulted in a fine balance between increasing visitation and environmental protection. It’s not easy to sustain a vision for nearly two decades, but Tohono Chul succeeded brilliantly!
*Judges named two Crescordia winners in this category.
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES - SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
Spaces of Opportunity
Spaces of Opportunity addresses community connections, food deserts and social justice on an inspiring scale and allows residents to learn about science, technology, engineering and agriculture. It has incredible potential to become a community point of pride and could have a positive effect in reducing poverty in the area.
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES - MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION AND CONNECTIVITY
Mesa Rio Salado-Stadium Connector Pathway
The Mesa Rio Salado-Stadium Connector Pathway filled a critical 3.5-mile gap in the Valley’s network of shared-use paths along the Salt River, Crosscut Canal, and adjacent neighborhoods. It also connects to a larger vision to make the Rio Salado a recreational, commerce and residential hub for metro Phoenix.
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES - PUBLIC POLICY/PLANS
South Mountain Park and Preserve Trails Master Plan (SMPTMP)
The South Mountain Park and Preserve Plan will help this nationally recognized desert mountain preserve address the challenges of increasing popularity so future generations can connect with the desert. The timing is perfect with the park’s 100th anniversary approaching.
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES - PARKS AND TRAILS
U-Haul / The Conservation Fund: Upper Granite Creek Aspen Restoration Project
U-Haul designated a portion of customer contributions in 2017-2018 to the National Forest Foundation to support its Prescott Aspen Restoration Project in the Prescott National Forest. This effort also protects a watershed that is critical to Prescott and its residents.
ENERGY AND TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION
City of Peoria Patrol Services Building
The City of Peoria’s new Patrol Services Building provides an immediate return on investment through ongoing water and energy reduction while providing a comfortable work environment for Peoria’s officers and staff. It’s also a perfect example of how green building offers a noticeable return on investment.
ART, ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION
Glendale Desert Food Forest
Part regenerative landscape and part outdoor classroom, the Glendale Desert Food Forest connects residents to the Sonoran Desert’s array of water-wise edible plants. It engages residents in learning about our arid landscape and shows there is more to our flora than meets the eye.
SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION - ORGANIZATIONS AND PROJECTS
Northern Arizona Forest Fund
The Northern Arizona Forest Fund focuses on projects that reduce wildfire risk, minimize erosion and sedimentation, improve hydrologic function and protect invaluable watersheds. It also offers a replicable model for other arid regions facing threats from declining forest health. (NOTE: The Northern Arizona Forest Fund was also selected from among the Crescordia winners as the President's Award winner, which is the highest honor of the evening.)
SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION - INDIVIDUALS
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton worked tirelessly to establish Phoenix as an oasis of pragmatic, economically beneficial environmentalism. His efforts enhanced the city’s reputation for embracing ideas that can make it more resilient.
Waste Management Phoenix Open
The Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO) is a Zero Waste Event that tracks greenhouse gas emissions and minimizes the tournament’s carbon footprint. It also provides a platform for Waste Management to share its knowledge with other organizations - which creates a more modest learning curve to help other companies embrace sustainable practices.
Arizona Forward recently welcomed a new team member. Stacie Beute joined us from the Desert Botanical Garden, and she will fill the role of director of membership and programs. Here’s a short Q & A to help you get to know Stacie!
That’s an interesting question with a complicated answer. I feel hopeful about sustainability in Arizona. We have some of the planet’s top researchers and sustainability incubators right here in our state. There are many individual, nonprofit, public and private sector efforts to advance sustainable practices, and those efforts add up. Flagstaff’s 2018-2020 strategic plan for sustainability and Phoenix’s 2050 environmental sustainability goals are just two examples of municipalities putting forward bold targets for sustainability. At the same time, it’s difficult to measure the impact of those dispersed efforts. I’d love to see Arizona aim hard at the Sustainable Development Goals and get strategic and coordinated around sustainability.
Day-to-day habits are hard to break, so the first thing I’d say is don’t worry about being perfect. Just do the best you can right now. That said, I think the most impactful thing an average Arizonan can do to make a positive impact on the environment is reducing their use of single use plastics. Use that reusable water bottle! Buy that branded beverage container at your local coffee shop and use it for your daily iced tea. Bring your bags to the grocery store. It’s an old message, but we’re still not there on single use plastics. Those little, individual choices make a huge difference. There are more than 7 million of us in this state. We add up!
That’s like picking your favorite child! Truth be told though, something shifts in me when I’m in the forest – any forest really – but I’m nuts about aspen groves. A weight falls away that I didn’t know was there. I feel at peace. I feel connected. And it’s no wonder! Did you know the largest organism on Earth is a clonal colony of aspens? So for that reason, I’d say my favorite outdoor spot in Arizona is under the aspens on Inner Basin Trail in Flagstaff.
The best professional advice I received was also the best human advice I’ve ever received. Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity – personally or professionally. Treat people well. Be gracious. Build good bridges, because you never know how that will weave into the larger picture of your life and work.
Great question. We’re researching that now, digging into member surveys, strategic plans, analyzing the opportunities … let’s turn this question to our membership. What initiative would YOU most like to see Arizona Forward implement?
You can connect with Stacie via email at email@example.com.
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!
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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