Sustainability Issue on Its Way

We’ll explore how to make better connections

Earth Day is April 22 this year, and our Sustainability Issue will hit newsstands that same day. This has been an annual convergence for more than a decade. The point is to shine a light on a single topic to convey what’s being done locally – and what more can be done – to create a more sustainable Earth.

When we talk about “sustainability,” the environmental connections are obvious: We want to meet our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs, by one widely used definition. But sustainability is not just about environmentalism or natural resources. It includes social and economic sustainability. It means we’re creating conditions for the long-term health of our state, country and world – one community at a time.

Numerous factors contribute to a healthy community. When I lived in Minnesota, a weeklong community leadership workshop through the Blandin Foundation taught us about nine common dimensions that all healthy communities share: lifelong learning, inclusion, recreational and artistic opportunity, environmental stewardship, infrastructure and services, safety and security, community leadership, economic opportunity, and spirituality and wellness.

When you check this list against Door County communities, you’ll probably be blown away by just how well we measure up. Yet no community is perfect. There’s always room for improvement. 

One of those areas is transportation. We move up and down and all around this 80-mile-long peninsula largely through private transportation. This reigning form of transportation burns most of the world’s petroleum and is one of the largest sources of global greenhouse-gas emissions. It’s also heavy on air pollution; requires non-Earth-friendly things such as parking lots and parking spaces; and can be heavy on the wallet, as we’ve learned this year.

To be sure, we have some public transportation, but there’s a group working to expand this throughout the peninsula. We have some roads that accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists, but more sustainable planning and design are needed and are being done. Some around the peninsula are deciding not to pave paradise, opting instead for more sustainable surfaces on which to park our vehicles. And if we want to use our cars less and our bodies more, we’ll show you where people are trying to make better connections through new trails, or trails opened to wider usage.

Door County is definitely not the kind of place where people are content to sit back and enjoy the good life. They’re engaged and unafraid of raising awareness about improved ways of living for all. We’ll show you how they’re doing this next week in the area of transportation in the 2022 Sustainability Issue: Making Better Connections.