Snapshot on Sustainability: Resilient projects create more than legacy


In case you missed it, this year’s call for Legacy Projects is out and you’ve still got time to apply. Submittals are due October 26th. You can do this because you and your organization are passionate, knowledgeable, and could use a little support.

This year the Legacy Project is looking for projects that focus on resilience. What is resilience? Maybe you’ve heard Heather Rosenberg talk, taken (or are planning to take) one of her classes, or you can check out last year’s blog on the topic.

I had the opportunity to talk with Anna Haller, Director of Project Development at Environmental Diversion Solutions about her project with The Greek Theater and Griffith Park to create a closed-loop organic waste program to significantly reduce waste costs and operations, diverting organic waste from landfills. A prime example of resilience (though not necessarily what people first think of), this project inspires me because it is piloting solutions to one of society’s biggest challenges – what to do with the waste humans produce.

Whether we are constructing or deconstructing our surrounding infrastructure or just getting through the day, humans generate an enormous amount of trash and a good part of that waste is organic material. Rather than thinking about waste as something to be disposed of, think of it as opportunity, which begs the question, “what are you going to do with it?”

Organic waste is compostable. It can be dehydrated to manage the volume. Use it to increase nutrients in soil for landscaping. Additional benefits – you’re no longer paying to haul this waste “away” or for someone else to manage it. You are reducing your need to purchase fertilizer which may be laced with a variety of chemicals that have their own unintended consequences to biodiversity and our waterways. Depending on your soil management techniques, you might even reduce your need for pest control and increase your soil’s water retention, reducing water use. What’s the bottom line? Anna estimates the program she is building will have the potential to cut costs by about $20,000 annually. I can imagine a number of things that savings could fund from operations and maintenance to new services and experiences for the public.

Los Angeles is an innovative city. Anna and The Greek Theater are finding better ways to manage ongoing operational tasks, building in practices that can withstand shocks and stressors because handling organic waste on-site is inherently a resilient system.

So I ask, what is your legacy project going to be?

  • What are the persistent issues that you want to solve?
  • Identify your stakeholders and build your team of advisors and support
  • Know the barriers to your success
  • Research optimal solutions
  • Plan how you will define success
  • Build in benchmarks to measure success by breaking the project into manageable stages or phases
  • Gather and track data as you go
  • Document the difference your efforts are making

To get a project moving, there are many efforts to coordinate. Every project has its challenges and setbacks. Get inspired by all those on this path to create a more resilient Los Angeles. I’ve written other blogs related to The Legacy Project that might be worth revisiting:

I hope you will submit your own Legacy Project or support someone who is. Spread the call widely and as always, I’m curious what you think. I hope you will contact me directly at stacy.sinclair@me.com or leave your thoughts below.

About the Author

Stacy SinclairStacy Sinclair is an accomplished educator and author. She is partnering with USGBC-LA to explore perspectives that drive decision-making on issues related to sustainability and resilience.

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