Recently, a friend and I met for lunch and I showed her the book Sustainability by Stuart W. Rose. She was associated with a non-profit organization supporting businesses and sustainable practices (Entrepreneurs for Sustainability ). Our server grabbed the book, looked through it, and shared his personal activities of recycling and composting, and that he also belonged to a CSA group(community-supported agriculture) which is the same one that my 77 year-old mom belongs to. Then, two people that my friend knew walked through – one was in a book club on sustainability and the other from a successful business using sustainable practices. I offer these vignettes to show that the concept of sustainability is a very NOW concept touching individuals, groups, and business. And Stuart W. Rose holistically delves into it in his book, Sustainability.
Through extemporaneous writing, the book reveals Dr. Rose’s journey and pathways as he explores the creation of a sustainable house structure in a sustainable community with reflections upon a sustainable world. The author does not approach sustainability as a cult leader looking for disciples. His background as a pragmatic and multiple-degreed architect and engineer grounds the book in a systematic approach of discovery and learning. His research connects him with experts in building, business, real estate, local and regional government, ecology, and more esoteric topics such as change and spirituality.
The book is part journal, part instruction manual, and part primer about organizational change. Initially, Rose overviews his interest in history and patterns that lead him to sustainability as a concept towards which the world is trending. This is Rose’s pattern of discovery; he expands his scope to examine a whole and then contracts to look at parts.
[amazonify]1439263833[/amazonify]Rose then looks at himself and his preferences and lifestyle through the lens of sustainability. From that foundation he and his partner/spouse create a community built upon their learnings about sustainability. Rose provides enough detail and resource references to give direction to the curious without weighing down the book. And, the detail goes from building and landscape design and materials, to the challenges of doing something different within an established human system such as a local government.
Utilizing his dimensions of sustainability, Rose aligns the practices of sustainability with the direction he sees the world going based upon trends and history. He wraps the book up by once again stepping back to his life path. Using his personal process that is neither linear nor obvious but that suits his preferences and lifestyle, Rose’s openness to information and experiences outside of his comfort zone includes tying sustainability to things spiritual and unknown. Though having a background in business and a pragmatic Capricorn to boot, I can follow Rose into that realm – other readers may be less comfortable there.
Stuart Rose’s Sustainability will help the reader recognize the breadth of sustainability and to provoke questions and suggest pathways. I found Dr. Rose’s summary about the risks we face if no action is taken to be uncomfortable to read – both because it was lecture-y and because my ability to impact feels so limited. Yet, as Rose reminds us, Margaret Mead said that we must never doubt the power of a small group of people to change the world – that nothing else ever has. And so I will hold on to that idea and do what I can.