Attributes of a Sustainable Citizen

Attributes of 21st Century Residents

The needs and attributes they identified are summarized below; these have provided context to the development of recommendations in the E3 Washington Comprehensive Plan.

The environmentally literate resident recognizes interconnections:

  • Is open-minded to other cultures and ways of life
  • Understands environmental, economic and governmental systems–local, regional, national and global
  • Is aware of the connections between natural systems and human behaviors
  • Sees the future through the lenses of the environment, the economy and an equitable society
  • Understands the link between poverty and the environment
  • Recognizes connections among disciplines
  • Understands and considers the effects of personal actions and choices
  • Has a strong connection to community and environment
  • Can work across sectors, disciplines and professions
  • Values open spaces and public lands and access to them

The environmentally literate resident has good communication and people skills:

  • Effective and expressive communicator
  • Uses conflict resolution skills
  • Negotiator and collaborator
  • Has listening skills
  • Works with others to find solutions to common problems
  • Employs basic courtesies
  • Compassionate and Self-Aware
  • True concern and care for the physical, mental and social health of all living beings
  • Ability and willingness to empathize
  • Adaptable and resilient
  • Cares about people who are “not like me”

The environmentally literate resident has a constructive attitude:

  • Focuses on the positive; holds hope for the future
  • Open-minded; embraces change and new ideas
  • Respects the community, other people and self (even in disagreements)
  • Considerate of generations to come
  • Believes every person can make a positive difference; “we don’t have a person to waste”
  • Holds self accountable
  • Desires to live a sustainable lifestyle and reduce ecological footprint:
    • Uses public transportation, rides bike and walks
    • Reduces, reuses and recycles
    • Grows own food and buys local and fair trade products whenever possible
    • Monitors and reduces her/his use of energy and water
    • Understands the processes used to produce goods
    • Avoids the use of toxics
    • Has basic skills: cooking and preserving food, gardening, repairing and maintaining things (so they can be reused), sewing
    • Creates green spaces: uses native plants, reduces impermeable surfaces, embraces green building concepts

The environmentally literate resident is educated:

  • A life-long learner
  • Seeks knowledge, motivated to learn from both formal and non-formal sources
  • Curious, asks questions
  • Searches for meaning, finds relevancy
  • Observer and listener
  • Creative problem-solver
  • Systems thinker; critical thinker
  • Can access, analyze and synthesize information; can move from analysis and reduction to synthesis and integration
  • Makes evidence-based decisions
  • Trained in science, math, human history, geography and social science and the application of these to daily life
  • Knows where to find resources
  • Aware of local resources in both urban and natural settings
  • Gains skills to make change effectively
  • Learns survival skills, trades and crafts
  • Understands issues, laws and politics
  • Multilingual
  • Technologically savvy
  • Thoughtful consumer of information, media and goods
  • Understands:
    • Cultural and natural history of her/his place (community, region, watershed)
    • Regional planning issues
    • Issues related to population growth
    • Material systems and how they work
    • The waste system and waste streams
    • 3 Cs: connections, choices and consequences
    • Both short-term and long-term consequences of his/her actions
    • Her/his ecological footprint
    • Earth’s operating systems
    • Water, food and energy cycles–based on science
    • Clean technologies and processes that make efficient use of resources
    • The local economy
    • Environmental, economic and governmental systems and relationships among them
    • Relationships among environmental, equity and economic issues and human health
    • The concept of the commons
    • How to create a safe community
  • Has skills to support a sustainable lifestyle and can:
    • Read and write
    • Cook, grow food, recycle, reuse and compost, ride a bike, bus and train, telecommute (computer skills), repair and maintain things (so they can be reused)
    • Hold a living wage job that supports concepts of sustainability (e.g., leading outdoor learning programs, green/clean technology, repair of products, sustainable forestry and farming, monitoring and measuring the health of the environment, people and the economy, teaching skills, recycling, environmental engineering, green building, weatherizing homes, ecotourism)
    • Hunt and fish

The environmentally literate resident is healthy spiritually, physically, and mentally:

  • Sense of humor; has fun
  • Happy and joyful
  • Exercises
  • Respect for one’s spirit
  • Eats “healthy”
  • Has quality time and experiences
  • Holds a living wage job that provides meaningful work
  • Knows how to support a family
  • Sense of wonder

The environmentally literate resident is involved and engaged

  • Motivated/motivator
  • “Everyone is a teacher and a student.&rdquot;
  • Hard worker
  • Leader; inspires others to make positive change
  • In his/her home, neighborhood and community, the citizen:
    • Creates green spaces
    • Reduces his/her ecological footprint and lives green
    • Seeks diverse people and experiences
    • Feels rooted with a strong sense of place and community
    • Is politically aware and an active citizen
    • Volunteers and engages in service learning
    • Shares inspiration and knowledge with others
    • Demonstrates values through actions and inspires others to do the same

The environmentally literate resident is an activist:

  • Values and works with people from every social and economic level and ethnic background
  • Confronts poverty and inequities of all kinds–class, race, gender, age, religion, culture, ethnicity etc.
  • Values, understands and engages in social/environmental justice
  • Works to increase access for all to education
  • Works to connect schools and their communities
  • Works to maximize everyone’s potential
  • Leads by example
  • Votes
  • Works for the common good but values individual initiative

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