Read about Kris’s realizations during her first few weeks of service:
One month into my service term, I feel inspired, tired and determined. Ten more months to go and I wonder, will I get it all done?
Almost everyday at the Sustainable Business Council (SBC) in Missoula ends with that question. The 501(3)(c) non-profit organization’s mission is to advance a vibrant local economy built on sustainable practices. They have made tremendous strides in the community with their buy local campaigns, the annual business sustainability awards and other educational outreach. But there is still more work to be done. The road to sustainability is challenging and arduous but is paved with good intentions. The enthusiasm and interest is palpitating in the Missoula business community.
As SBC’s Sustainability Educator, I’ve had the opportunity to see the face of change.
Like meeting with a local restaurant owner who was itching to learn how she can give back to our “Missoula family.” Or visiting with the plant manager at Missoula’s wastewater treatment center and seeing the look of pride on his face as he boasts about how the plant has nearly recovered all the resources found in the wastewater, including biosolids, effluent and methane. Or analyzing data from a SBC survey and seeing numbers that reflect an increased interest in locally sourced foods.
But there is still more work to be done.
Missoula’s landfill is bursting with valuable resources that could be reclaimed, reused, repaired and recycled. And less than 5% of food served and sold in Missoula is locally sourced, with a few exceptions of local champions striving for more. Several opportunities lie in wait to build a more sustainable society, economy and environment. I can’t help but feel incredibly inspired and slightly overwhelmed.
Can I get it all done?
Almost everyday my supervisor repeats her thanks while sitting in the small, one room office crammed with three desks. “I’m so thankful you’re here,” she sighs with a smile. I nod back and cross my fingers. But I’m beginning to realize it’s not about getting it all done. That’s entirely impossible. Unfeasible. Inconceivable. What I can do is hopefully leave it a little bit better than before. By creating a zero-waste guide that helps the business community find money in their trash. And by building a public policy reporting blog that informs local businesses about resource policies, tax and planning issues, and the latest on bills introduced in the Montana Legislature that could affect the way they do business.
I also recognize that my service is more than just getting it all done. It’s about building a collaborative community. It’s about opening doors for people to help, whether its volunteering on a Saturday to help build a community garden, or donating $5 a month to your favorite non-profit, or committing to a year of service as an Energy Corps member.
Choose your flavor.
Kris Heitkamp has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah and a Masters of Arts in Environmental Science and Natural Resources Journalism from the University of Montana. As a freelance writer, journalist and researcher, she has over a decade of experience working for corporate America. She completed an internship with National Geographic Books and Food & Water Watch in Washington, D.C.. Kris is serving with the Sustainable Business Council, educating the Missoula community on how to live more sustainably.