Readers Respond

Your article in the May issue (page 62) prompted me to mention that Marin Academy (San Rafael) has developed quite an interesting Education for Sustainability program. The centerpiece is their Eco-Council, which is composed of students, teachers, trustees and administrators. Since inception a few years ago, the Eco-Council has developed a production garden, funded and installed a full kitchen (rather than typical heat/serve operation), begun an on-site composting for all organic waste, started an extensive recycling program (including e-waste program), changed school purchasing policies to sustainable products, implemented an energy conservation program, and so on. Since Ecology/Sustainability issues are inherently interdisciplinary, the school created the Thoreau Chair, which funds a faculty member to orchestrate cross-disciplinary collaborations and coordinates the Eco-Council work (Mark Stefanski is the current Thoreau Chair).

My wife and I founded the Greenwood School mentioned in your article, and were thrilled to find Marin Academy to be the perfect extension of the work we began with our children when they were little. At the same time we began the Greenwood School, we also founded the Center for Ecoliteracy (CEL) to see what could be done to foster education for sustainability in public schools.

We worked very closely with the The Bay Institute in developing the STRAW program (May page 63), as well as developing sustainability partnerships with many Marin public schools. The program at Marin Academy, in my experience, is easily the most successful and effective. The world needs more of these programs, and the Marin Academy program is quite replicable and scalable.

Peter K. Buckley, Mill Valley

Thank you for the interesting column about nonprofit/proliferation. I am planning to clip the article and send it to a lawyer friend in another part of California who has been advocating a comprehensive survey for his community with no luck.

Phoebe Wall Howard, Mill Valley

Rather than view the proliferation of nonprofits in Marin as a problem, we might view our many nonprofits as an important solution to a local and federal government that is unable or unwilling to address and fund important local problems like hunger, substance abuse and eldercare in our community. Most of us obligated to pay taxes have very little control over how our dollars are spent. In contrast, a vast majority of nonprofits in Marin, like the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin’s free dining room where I work, are not funded by any government or Marin Community Foundation dollars. Instead, we are funded by committed Marinites who willingly give their time and money to ensure that no one in Marin goes hungry. How can this be a bad thing? It seems more appropriate to celebrate a community that cares deeply about the human beings and animals who live here. Or should we just wait for the government to take care of things for us?

Christine Paquette, Novato

Regarding the wonderful article in last month’s magazine about Darfur: All of us involved in the grassroots work to raise awareness were grateful. It was an incredible, informative and powerful story. Thank you.

Gerri Miller, Tiburon

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