ORIGIN OF THE ORGANIZATION
The Sustainability Council is based in the Southern California coastal County of Ventura. Ventura County with a population of some 800,000 abuts metropolitan Los Angeles with some 10 million residents. Between the County and ten cities, and citizen sponsored initiatives a number of unique measures have been enacted to avoid becoming an extension of Los Angeles. These measures seek to maintain the rural/farming character of the unincorporated areas while allowing each of the cities to evolve into mature urban centers.
The Council was formed in 1995 following the first of several Sustainability Conferences sponsored by the U.S. Navy at Point Mugu. These were local events that were linked by televised satellite downlinks to programs originating in Washington DC. A core group of attendees felt sustainability was an issue that should be promoted and so organized themselves to produce subsequent annual conferences. They soon realized that a more formal organization needed to be formed to sustain their efforts on a year round basis. This led to the groupís incorporated in 1997 as a 501c3 non-profit organization. It is operated by the Board of Directors with assistance from an Advisory Board and the general membership.
We promote sustainability as an organization by looking for opportunities to educate the public and decision-makers about the importance of seeking sustainable solutions to problems. We establish partnerships with businesses, organizations, governments and individuals to conduct projects and programs that promote sustainable outcomes. We particularly seek projects that galvanize people into action that brings about long term change in the social, economic and environmental sectors and thus lead to more sustainable human and natural systems. We therefore see the Council as a catalyst for change.
As a 21st Century organization we intend to remain responsive to change and technological opportunities. We therefore strongly urge our members to participate via e-mail and our website (www.sustainabilitycouncil.org) as a matter of convenience and to promote rapid responses to challenges and opportunities. Doing so will also conserve valuable resources including the volunteered time of the Board of Directors and others engaged in work on behalf of the organization.
COMPOSITION OF THE BOARD
The Board of Directors typically numbers 12 to 15 and vacancies are filled by the Board. The Board strives create a diverse membership comprised of people from various disciplines, backgrounds and vocations, who are of various ages, races, economic standings, and who reside in different geographic areas of the county. The organization is managed and administered solely by the Board. An Advisory Board, appointed by the Board of Directors, provides advice and assistance in meeting the organizationís mission and specific projects. General membership in the organization is open to any one who supports the mission of the organization. Dues are collected from all members of the organization, including the Board of Directors, to fund the activities of the organization and services to its members.
The Board of Directors meets regularly (typically monthly) to conduct the work of the Council. The meetings are informal and collegial, and rely on consensus and pragmatism to develop goals and implement specific tasks. This process requires patience, good humor, dedication, and the honest good will of one another. More importantly it requires a commitment to the Councilís mission and to principles that define sustainability. Board members also agree to attend meetings regularly, abide by the regulations governing boards of non-profit 501c3 corporations, and act in accordance with the organizationís by laws.
Board members do the hands-on work of advancing the Councilís mission. This includes producing events and conferences, helping organize affiliated groups, cooperating in research projects relating to sustainability issues, producing reports and papers, writing grants, being public advocates for sustainability, and doing the mundane job of maintaining the organization. The Board sets the Councilís agenda and makes sure it is running smoothly and in the right direction.
GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS
Meetings of the general membership are called as needed. We prefer that supporters spend their time engaged in meaningful, creative work, not regular meetings. In this regard we urge our members to participate in one or more of the Board initiated projects as part of a fluid team that assembles for such individual projects then disbands upon their completion. The Board encourages people to initiate their own projects advancing sustainability and asks only that if these projects are to be undertaken in the organizationís name, that the project be first sanctioned by the Board.