By Roman Johnson




As you know, Benicia Community Gardens has become Sustainable Solano, to better reflect what we do.

In our efforts to open the conversation, we asked you to participate in what we have been calling The Sustainability Thought Experiment. We asked you to draw what this topic means to you, how it affects your lifestyle, and how you visualize a world that “works for everyone.” We were extremely pleased with the result and we thank you so much for your enthusiastic and creative input! For the past few weeks, we have been using this input to brainstorm the vision and how to incorporate sustainable living into daily lives.

Sustainability, in business terms, is a taboo phrase. The reason for this is because sustainability is often viewed as an alternative to growth, as a plateau that urges flat-lining instead of moving upward, the difference between surviving and thriving. As a result, environmentalists compromise. We replace sustainability with terms like “efficiency”; “audits” have morphed to “assessments.” Dancing around the essence.

The practical side of my brain embraces this. Speaking for the bees and the trees is a hard sell to business owners trying to hit their bottom lines and for parents struggling with rent and putting food on their family’s tables. I empathize. However, the idealist in me craves more. Of course, ecological factors are important. We are all organisms of this earth, whether we stop to think about it often or not. Survival is based upon the function of these systems. But sustainability is bigger and more relatable than people give it credit. Sustainability is the means by which businesses stay afloat and families keep their kids in schools with a roof over their heads. It’s about spending money, time, and energy within your means.

In this modern era, we have reached a point in which there are few frontiers left to explore. We are pushing the limits of expansion, setting our sights on “other worldly” entities, most notably space. Our fascination with space is understandable. It carries with it existential questions about our place in this universe. While this topic is for another discussion, I mention it because there are frontiers within our own world worth fleshing out more. Thinking in a more ethereal sense, what about the frontiers of compassion? Teamwork? Sharing? We posit exploring these frontiers in earnest before venturing on to the next.

This is the idea we have been running with. If we imagine this mission as the earth itself, we see these phrases as comprising the core, ingredients of the abstract vision. From there we move to the Mantle, which incorporates more concrete, tangible values that manifest our mission. This is the portion of the map we are developing with care. Once this realm is fleshed out, we will have the foundation to create the soil that makes up the crust, the seeds, and the plants that grow to sustain mutually beneficial ecosystems, our most lofty goal.

We see our role as something like social and environmental midwives, someone who acts as a catalyst, bringing life into this world. Sustainable Solano seeks be the liaison to help bring the fresh ideas of the community to reality. Practically speaking, this means acting objectively, connecting and synthesizing the great work and resources being developed by other organizations in the region and providing the platform to further these conversations.

Essentially, our expanded mission seeks to encompasses each aspect of our identity, how we grow, and how we relate to the broader community. I am in no position to say that I live in a sustainable fashion. My mind: all over the place. My finances: in shambles. My diet: horrendous. However, nature is a struggle for equilibrium, a forever-cycle of adjusting the seesaw back into balance. We are all working for our own sense of that equilibrium. Exploring this realm is exploring what it means to live as a sustainable human within a sustainable society. We encourage you to explore with us and continue providing your input. After all, this is your community.

Dream with us;

Build with us.