Attainable Sustainability: Part 1

DUBUQUE –  Sustainability.

It takes many forms, but it’s a singular goal shared by many.

In simple terms, sustainability is sharing what we have, reusing what we’ve tossed, and preserving what we need.

“People are asking me all the time, ‘What can I do?’” says Cori Burbach, sustainability coordinator for the city of Dubuque. She’s constantly promoting sustainability projects all around town.

The project this past weekend? Getting people in touch with electric cars.

Alliant Energy and the city of Dubuque collaborated for Drive Electric week at the Dubuque Farmer’s market. While Alliant provided a few vehicles, several Dubuque electric car owners brought their own vehicles for market-goers to test drive.

“[We’re] really building energy in Dubuque around alternative-fuel vehicles,” says Burbach. “[We’re] thinking about different ways individuals can lower their carbon footprint.”

Lowering the carbon footprint is just one way people can achieve sustainability.

But just a seven mile drive away from the farmer’s market, sustainability takes a whole new focus.

The Dominican Sisters at Sinsinawa Mound in Wisconsin recently began a collaborative farming program for those that wish to farm full time.

Eight farmers practice sustainability on six different plots by growing their own food and selling it right back at the farmer’s market or to restaurants around town.

“They love my spinach,” says Kristen Conley, a collaborative farmer at Sinsinawa who sells the vegetable to the popular Dubuque restaurant L.May.

Kristen’s goal is to own her own farm within a year–until then, it’s building the credit and the skills she needs to expand.

The farmers at Sinsinawa all understand the importance their work plays in the big picture of sustainability.

“It’s really important to eat local food to keep your dollars and your energy within the community,” says Rachel Schmidt-Boeke, another collaborative farmer.

Back at her event at the Farmer’s Market, Burbach knows how the pieces of the puzzle all fit together. And she knows the excitement that sustainability can cultivate.

“We’re really starting to see that energy grow around this topic,” she says with a smile.

In the end, it’s the people that work for sustainability that will one day make it fully attainable.

Check out Part 2 of the Attainable Sustainability series here.

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