be informed

Workshops, lectures and slideshows offered

Please contact the GLP if interested in hosting a workshop or presentation.

Radical Simplicity

Simple, sustainable living imbedded in a high-achiever, high-consumption culture presents monumental challenges and opportunities. Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity, will explore practical ways to make monumental reductions in our spending and ecological footprints, while aligning with our greater purpose. Examples and practical suggestions will prime your creativity. In a sustainable world, success might be measured by who has the most fun while serving the greater good per acre of Earth consumed.

Imagine you are first in line at a potluck buffet. The spread includes not just food and water, but all the materials needed for shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education. How do you know how much to take? How much is enough to leave for your neighbors behind you -- not just the six and a half billion people, but the wildlife, and the as-yet-unborn?

In the face of looming ecological disaster and wars coupled with a stressful daily grind, many people feel the need to change their own lifestyles as a necessary step in transforming our unsustainable culture. Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature said about Radical Simplicity, “Jim Merkel offers a special mix of practicality and idealism: a workable mix. I defy you to read this book and not come away thinking of ways your life might change for the better.” Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States said “Jim Merkel has written the most persuasive argument I have yet seen for all of us to radically change the way we live day-to-day. Radical Simplicity joins the evidence of science to a fertile imagination. This is a profoundly important book.”

Radical Leadership

As species extinction rates and global oil and food prices reach record highs, financial institutions join the glaciers in melting down. Jim Merkel suggests that sustainable lifestyles can not only lighten footprints but also lighten the heaviness of a world going sour. The gravity of these issues have motivated a new brand of student and campus leaders who put their values into action in step with Mahatma Gandhi’s advice “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” In his presentation, Radical Leadership, Merkel will highlight how to package your life’s energy, loves and skills to create the most beautiful and sustainable world you can imagine.

Merkel’s images document the transition of institutions of higher education toward living laboratories of sustainability, uniquely poised to deliver experienced, caring and skilled workers on-fire to contribute to Earth’s most pressing challenges.

Over the past decade hundreds of college campuses have hired sustainability coordinators, boosted offerings in sustainable design and set greenhouse gas targets. Issues of climate change, energy, organic and local foods, fair trade, green building and zero waste are hot among student groups and administrators. Many institutions are coming to realize they can no longer afford to operate unsustainably.

Merkel will share his experiences in working as Dartmouth College’s Sustainability Coordinator and offer insights into establishing leadership in Higher Education. While at Dartmouth, Merkel’s role was to integrate environmentally and socially sustainable practices into the College's operations, culture and strategic plan. His work helped Dartmouth earn the highest grade given on the Sustainability Report Card issued by the Sustainable Endowments Institute for the two years he led the campuses sustainability efforts. Merkel’s projects include Sustainable Dining, Solar Thermal Evaluation, Carbon Reduction, Sustainable Offices, Green Greeks and Solid Waste Reduction.

Sustainability in Higher Education

Over the past decade hundreds of college campuses have hired sustainability coordinators including all the Ivy League schools. Issues of climate change, energy, organic and local foods, fair trade, green building and zero waste are hot among student groups and administrators.

In this workshop, Jim Merkel will share his experiences in working as Dartmouth College’s Sustainability Coordinator as well as highlight programs from leading green campuses.

Sustainable Lifestyles

This slideshow contains inspiring images of sustainable lifestyles in Kerala, India, the Himalayas, Spain and North America. The transition to a sustainable culture needs your participation! The program includes lessons learned by the Global Living Project on living well on small footprints. Could our material abundance, education and creativity be harnessed to create an equitable, peaceful and sustainable planet?

The Sustainability Workout - Creating a Definition of Sustainability
A workshop developed by Redefining Progress and the GLP

How large of an impact or ‘footprint’ would you like to leave? What is an equitable slice of the biosphere considering other life forms the needs of our world neighbors and future generations?

Using the science of ecological footprints and listening to our own sense of fairness, it is possible to arrive at a personal measurable sustainability goal. Through this process, we will be able to set specific targets and face challenging obstacles with more clarity. This workshop will introduce the tools of Radical Simplicity that can help you chart a more direct course toward sustainability. After the Workout, you will be able to significantly sharpen sustainability discussions and face the emotional challenges more successfully.

Climate Neutral Leadership

Seriously reducing Greenhouse Gases (GHG) is among the hottest issues addressed by student leaders on campuses from coast to coast. With actual measurements exceeding predictions, scientists like Dr. James Hansen are urging swift and deep cuts in emissions. Many campuses are taking a leadership role, going beyond the calls for 80 percent reductions in GHGs by 2050.

Over 585 campuses have signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment agreeing to establish a plan to attain climate neutrality as soon as possible. Many other campuses have signed less rigorous climate commitments.

Just what does it mean to be climate neutral? How is it even possible when most campuses currently use fossil fuels for transportation, heating and electricity? Further, most of the building materials, supplies and foods on campuses are heavily laden with embodied fossil energy that is currently not part of carbon inventories.

In this session, Jim Merkel will explore these questions as well as outline approaches for getting very close to climate neutrality. Efficiency alone cannot take a campus to climate neutral. Neither can behavioral shifts, or better insulation or new technology or more effective scheduling or extending life spans of assets or cleaner fuels or more careful management or shifting to green energy. However, taken together, with a ‘yes and’ approach, managed over a 20 year period, each of these approaches are feasible and practical. Through systematic optimization of these types of relatively independent factors, deep GHG reductions are possible through a phenomenon known as multiplication.

Much of the questionable strategies such as engaging in carbon offsetting, trading and credits can be viewed as one small component in a comprehensive plan. Trading externalities such as toxicity for reduced direct emissions in the case of nuclear power, and biodiversity and habitat for potentially renewable local energy sources in the case of biofuels, are unnecessary.

Putting Values Into Action

Teaching about Global Challenges with the Ecological Footprint This workshop will introduce the tools contained in Radical Simplicity –Ecological Footprinting, Your Money or Your Life and Learning from Nature. We will demonstrate exercises and games that can create a greater global understanding and inspire commitment to social justice.

As educators or parents, our actions are more important than our words in the eyes of youth and our peers. By working through the practical difficulties of living simply in the land of plenty, you will know first hand how to assist your students.

An interactive introduction will establish a baseline of common understanding and assess how familiar participants are with the global state of affairs, ecological footprinting and voluntary simplicity.

We will explore the connections between the most critical issues facing our planet and the way we, students and educators, live. We will reflect upon the costs of consumerism and benefits of lower impact lifestyles.

Your Money Or Your Life

A workshop based on the best seller "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. This workshop examines strategies of how to get off the treadmill and chart a path toward a more fulfilling existence. By following the practical 9-step program outlined, it is possible to obtain financial freedom and live a more meaningful life knowing you are contributing toward healing the planet.

Sustainability in Kerala

A slide-show with poems, research and adventure highlighting sustainable lifestyles in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Kerala provides inspiration and insight into human possibilities as well as a wealth of information on alternative – and often radical - approaches to achieving life quality (education, health care, replacement fertility, food distribution, democratic access to local and small-scale income producing opportunities) on a small amount of resources.

Footprint applications for business, governments, and community groups

This workshop explains how, with the ecological footprint (EF), we can monitor human impact at the household, municipal, regional and national level, and how to compare it to the biosphere’s capacity to regenerate itself. Participants will learn how to compare various options to not only minimize lifecycle costs but also to minimize footprints.

Annual EF assessments are made of 150 nations. This substantial base of comparative data makes EF an ideal tool for assessing flows of materials and resources. We will demonstrate how to use EF spreadsheets to analyze the annual financial and environmental costs of products, policies, projects or programs. The seminar will be spiced with hands-on exercises and examples of how to use this tool for building a sustainable future in our lives, organizations and communities.