Workshop #2
November 6-7,2008

How can community leaders influence public opinion and shape policy, particularly in the face of public resistence and political barriers? Leadership principles became a lively topic at the second Nebraska Sustainability Leadership Workshop, held in Lincoln on November 6 and 7.

Community leaders from Auburn, Beatrice, David City, Gretna, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Seward discussed two sides of the problem of resistance to new ideas: how to attract young people to work with leadership in smaller towns and how to get older leaders to understand new ways of approaching problem-solving. Some towns are seeing an influx of new residents, which poses both possibilities and challenges.

Facilitators W. Cecil Steward, Jay Leighter and Beth Morrissette showed the group creative ways to address approaching issues of sustainability in both small towns and larger cities, and how community leaders can help to influence both public opinion and policy decisions. They discussed ways of approaching problems from different perspectives, how those different perspectives often help to visualize better solutions, and the importance of consensus in identifying problems and then finding solutions to them.

"Community leadership is both teaching and learning," said Steward, the founder of NSLW and president of Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities (JISC). JISC and the Nebraska Environmental Trust are the principal co-sponsors of the two-year program, which will present workshops for community and county leaders throughout Nebraska over the next two years.

Steward posited that those leaders attending the Lincoln workshop consider presenting their own multi-generational workshops in their communities to determine where strengths and barriers to sustainability issues are.

Water was another topic discussed at length, both water quality and quantity, as well as water rights. Using the EcoSTEP™ tool for measuring sustainability developed by Steward, participants discussed such approaches to water issues as well-head management, plants that leach nitrates from the soil, mixing compromised water sources with fresh and new sources, a new hybrid corn that uses less moisture, stormwater run-off and means of diverting it; and even ideas for marketing water rights.

Expert consultants who worked with the participants included Mike McMeekin, a Civil and Environmental Engineer, and also President of Lamp, Rynearson & Associates, Inc., an engineering, planning and surveying firm in Omaha; Mike Kros, an architect and expert in green building and LEED, as well as Senior Associate at DLR Group in Omaha; and Rachael Herpel, who is the liaison between Univerity of Nebraska-Lincoln water faculty and the Nebraska Natural Resources Districts, the Nebraska Legislature, and other water resources decision-makers from across the State. Her primary focus is to create stronger linkages between policy and science.

In addition the group heard from Twyla Hansen, an expert in sustainable agriculture and food resources, and quality system administrator at Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), an internationally accredited organic certification agency in Lincoln; and J. Todd Hall, Vice President of the Consumer Services Division of Lincoln Electric System and an energy efficiency expert. PDFs and PowerPoints of their presentations are available on the left side of the photos on this page.

Participants from smaller towns spent time discussing rejuventaion and redevelopment of their Main Streets, and Steward presented new ideas for them to consider as they approach those issues, showing them how interconnected resources, such as fossil fuels, can have an impact on economic and socio-cultural development. Those from larger cities talked about addressing public perceptions and gaining public support for redevelopment of older areas, such as the Antelope Valley redevelopment area in Lincoln.

Click on the images to view enlargements

from Lincoln

Click on the highlighted text to download these documents

Loss of Farmland & Local Food Systems
PDF from Twyla Hansen of the Organic Crop Improvement Association

Conservation, Efficiency and Sustainability in Energy
PowerPoint from J. Todd Hall at LES

Site design and development by Zigzag