by Alison Lueders, Great Green Editing
I had the pleasure this morning of talking with David Reed, one of the founders of the Sustany® Foundation.
With the Fifth Annual Sustany® Buzz benefit gala just around the corner on November 8, it seems a good time to reflect on where Sustany® has been and where it’s going. Here’s a brief summary of our discussion.
What prompted you to organize the first Sustany® Buzz five years ago?
DR: When starting the Sustany® Foundation, we spent a lot of time figuring out who our target audience is. In Tampa Bay, as in many parts of the country, there is a broad spectrum of people. Some are already fully on board with sustainable practices and concepts. But for many people, sustainability is (1) not on their radar, (2) considered a highly politicized issue, and (3) subject to mis-perception and misunderstanding.
We decided that Sustany®’s goals were to (1) build awareness around sustainability, (2) reach out to Tampa Bay people in an inclusive and non-partisan way and (3) take a thoughtful and long-term approach to maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in Tampa Bay.
Hosting the Sustany® Buzz is one fun and low-key way to achieve those goals. About 40 people attended the first Sustany® Buzz. We hope to attract 400 guests this year.
As you approach this year’s event at the Straz Center, how has the sustainability picture changed in Tampa Bay, and how has Sustany® been a part of that?
DR: Visibility and awareness of sustainability as a concept and in practice have increased by orders of magnitude. There are many reasons for that, and Sustany® has played a small role. There seems to be less resistance, although that is hard to measure.
Education is a key to this change. That’s why Sustany® funds programs for kids at schools and camps. When you talk to kids about sustainability, they get it. But we also target adults through programs like the Climate Conference this year, and the mini-grants that fund local sustainable efforts. We see all of Sustany®’s programs as planting seeds that we hope will come to fruition.
We know that adopting sustainable practices involves changing behaviors, and that is a long-term proposition.
As you look ahead, where do you want the Sustany® Foundation to be in five years?
DR: We want to grow the organization so that it can do more and have more influence.
It all comes down to resources. Strategically, we need to transition from a 100% volunteer staff to having some paid staff who can drive the organization forward.
Ideally, this year’s Buzz will be the biggest and best ever, so that we can start 2013 with money in the bank and the resources to take Sustany® to the next level. We’d like the Sustany® Foundation to be here 100 years from now, still helping to enhance the quality of life in Tampa Bay.
End of Interview
So – let’s make this the biggest and best Sustany® Buzz ever. With local beer, wine, food and live entertainment down by the water – how can you go wrong? All proceeds will go to support Sustany®’s programs. I’ve got my ticket – how about you? Click here to buy tickets.