Pando Belo

After I left City Farmer, I thought I might develop a small green tours business. I began to shop the idea around. A colleague encouraged me to take it to Mark Roseland at Simon Fraser University (SFU). That was the first I’d heard of him. He headed up the Centre for Sustainable Community Development there. I gave him a call and sent him a proposal. He helped me refine the concept, develop the partnership with the Centre and even gave me some funding towards the project that I called “Green Scenes.”

The program of sustainability tours was previewed at the 2006 World Urban Forum in Vancouver. While the original vision was scaled back and the international sustainability tours eventually put on hold, I continue to do many local and regional tours. At a point when I thought the whole program might collapse because of too much work and too little money syndrome, I met with Mark and instead of shutting it down, he re-envisioned the local tours as a three day field course, part of SFUs Certificate in Sustainable Community Development. My colleague Nina Winham and I have been delivering that course for four years now. The certificate program uses Mark’s book, Toward Sustainable Communities: Solutions for Citizens and their Governments (New Society, 2012). The latest edition comes off the presses in mid-June. I am delighted that an edited excerpt from my latest book is included in this fourth edition.

The book will be officially launched at the 2012 ICLEI World Congress in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in June; that event immediately precedes the 2012 Rio+20 Earth Summit. In addition, Mark and his team have developed a companion web site called Pando Sustainable Communities that will premiere at the same time. The web site is a “new online community for local sustainability-focused researchers and practitioners to share knowledge, network, and collaborate.” I have already signed up, hope you other sustainability types will join me. You can also read how they came up with the name Pando.

I love getting together with Mark to bounce ideas around. Sparks always fly, new ventures are born, and I come away feeling inspired. I know there are many others that feel that way; mine is not the only project he has helped incubate. Thank you Mark, for all you do for us and congratulations on your latest collaboration!

Now to organize a tour to Belo Horizonte pronto.

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