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Thinking and Doing Sustainability


With Jerry Tinianow, Chief Sustainability Officer, City and County of
Denver, Colorado and Tom Romito, Western Cuyahoga Audubon
TomRomito:ImTomRomitofromtheWesternCuyahogaAudubonSocietyanditsmyprivilegetobe
sittingwithJerryTinianow,myfriend,andwearevisitinginColorado.JerryandIgobackalongway.
Jerry,pleasetellmealittlebitaboutyourselfandwhatyouraffiliationisrightnow.

JerryTinianow:WellTom,first,welcometoColorado,itsgreattohaveyouhere.

ImalmostalifelongOhioan.Fouryearsago,mywifeandImovedtoDenversothatIcouldbecome
theCitysfirstChiefSustainabilityOfficer.

Butbeforethat,myentirelifeandcareerwasinOhioexceptforsevenyearswhenIwasawayat
collegeandlawschool.ThefirsthalfinClevelandandthesecondhalfinColumbus.Ivebeenaprivate
attorney,IvebeenthestatedirectorforAudubonSocietyOhioandthedirectoroftheMidOhio
RegionalPlanningCommissionbasedinColumbus,Ohio.

[00:01:01]
TomRomito:Jerry,whatareyoupassionateabout?

JerryTinianow:IampassionateaboutthetimesweliveinbecauseIvebeenworkingonsustainability
andtheissuesrelatedtoitmyentirelife,andinthatentireadulthoodoffortyplusyears,theresno
timelikethepresent.Wehaveopportunitiesrightnowtomakeprogressonissuesandthingsweve
dreamedaboutfordecades.

Iregretitssoneartheendofmycareerwhenwehavetheseopportunities,butwehavethese
opportunities.Opportunitiesthataregrowingbyleapsandboundseveryyear.Thisisareallyexciting
timetobeworkinginthisarea.

Copyright2016WesternCuyahogaAudubon.
CreativeCommons3.0AttributionNoncommercialNoDerivativeWorks.
WesternCuyahogaAudubonSociety,4310BushAve.,Cleveland,OH44109
Email:
info@wcaudubon.org
Web:
www.wcaudubon.org

[00:01:43]
TomRomito:Whatdoyouthinkpeopleshouldknow,think,feelanddoaboutthingsintermsofgreen
solutions?

JerryTinianow:Thefirstthing,andtheapproachweusehereinDenver,wetrynottoarguewith
people,wetrynottoconvincethemofthescienceorthemeritsofourpolicyposition.Wetryto
focusontheirownpersonalchoices,andwhytheywoulddoitfortheirownbenefit.

WeusealittlemantrahereinDenverforwhenpeoplesay,Howcanwegetinvolvedin
sustainability?Wesaytherearethreethingsyoucando.One,youcansavemoney,oneistospendit
here,andoneistodoittogether.Andreally,thatissustainabilityinanutshell.

Mostofthethingsweaskpeopletodo,whetheritssavingenergyorsavingwater,itssavingmoney.
Wecansellitalittlebetterthatway.Wedontwantitalltobesavingsandsacrifices,sospenditbut
spendithere,spenditlocal.

Andthen,mostimportantly,doittogether.Inotherwords,doitasacommunitybecauseultimately,
theonlyrenewableresourceisthecommunitybecauseitisarenewableresource,youhaveto
concentrateandmakeanefforttorenewcommunityvaluesbutitsalsothebasisofallother
renewableresources.So,thatskindofourformula.

[00:03:06]
TomRomito:Jerry,inyourroleasDirectorofSustainabilityfortheMayorofDenver,whatisyour
majorrole?

JerryTinianow:Weareactuallyanofficeofthreepeopleinacombinedcityandcountygovernment
ofeleventhousand.Wecannotdoprojectsourselves,weteachsustainabilitytheoryandpracticeto
theagencies.TheMayorgavemeafourwordagendawhenIstarted:Scale,andeverybodyplays.

Andbyscaling,hemeanshewantsprogramsthatmakeadifference,thatproducebignumbersand
bigchanges.Hesnotinterestedinthelittlepilotprojects,hewantstomovebignumbers.Andthat
everybodyplays,is,thathewantssustainabilitytobethebasicbusinessvalueineverythingofevery
departmentdoesnomatterwhatserviceitperforms.

Ourroleistotakesustainabilityasabusinessvalueandinstillitintheagenciesbyworking
handinhandwiththemnotonprojectsthatwedesign,butonprojectstheydesignbecausethey
ownitandtheyownresultsanditslikelytogetdone.

[00:04:12]
TomRomito:Jerry,Imentionedearlierthatwegobackalongway.Idlikeourviewingaudienceto
knowthatyouinspiredmetolaunchtheRockyRiverImportantBirdAreain2003.AsExecutive
DirectorofAudubonOhio,youcametomyfirstBoardmeetingasPresidentofWesternCuyahoga
AudubonSociety.

Imentionedthatweneededaconservationproject,andyousuggestedthatwemonitortheRocky
RiverImportantBirdArea.Thatlaunchedusonafiveyearadventuretodoexactlythat.

Subsequently,youinvitedmetobeontheAudubonOhioBoardofDirectors,whichyouwerethe
Copyright2016WesternCuyahogaAudubon.
CreativeCommons3.0AttributionNoncommercialNoDerivativeWorks.
WesternCuyahogaAudubonSociety,4310BushAve.,Cleveland,OH44109
Email:
info@wcaudubon.org
Web:
www.wcaudubon.org

advisor,asExecutiveDirectorofAudubonOhio.YoubecameoneofthebiggestsupportersofWestern
CuyahogaAudubonSocietyaswellastheotherchaptersinOhio.Couldyoupleasetellusahuman
intereststoryfromthosedays?

JerryTinianow:ThereasonIthinkIwassuchabigsupporterofyourChapter,wasbecauseyoudid
things.Everyonegoesoutandwatchesbirds,citizenscienceispowerful.

Peopleaskmethesedays,theresalotoftalkaboutsmartcities.Whatsasmartcity?Everyonethinks
asmartcityiswheretheresalotofcomputerprogramsandapplications,buttome,asmartcityis
wheremostoftheadultsunderstandthebasicsofscienceandmath.Becausethatsthekeytoreally
solvingprojects.Youfolkswerealreadydoingthat,butyouwentbeyonditbyorganizingthis
conservationcampaign.Youwerentjuststudying,youwereacting.

Youwerebringingtogetherthespecificsofhowyouwouldgetthecommunityengagedandhowit
wouldleadtospecificactionsinthatImportantBirdArea.Andfranklyonthatsideoftown,Igrewup
ontheeastsideandImactuallywearingmyShakerHighClassof73headgearthewestsidewas
neverknownforthat.Andyetthenaturalvaluesonthewestsidewereeverybitasgood,ifnot
better,thanthoseontheeastside.

Whatyoufolksweredoing,wasmakingthatcomealiveandactuallyhavingpeoplegettheirfingers
dirtyandgobeyondjustholdingthebinocularstoplanningandworkingandbringingpeopletogether.

[00:06:49]
TomRomito:Jerry,whatdoyoufeelaboutthefutureintermsofplanetearth?

JerryTinianow:Werereallyatatippingpointrightnow.Therestwothingshappening.Numberone,
thethreatshaveneverbeengreater.Becauseourpopulationhasneverbeengreaterandoursupply
ofnonrenewableresourcesisalsoatitslowpoint.Thatsatoughcombination:highesthuman
populationandloweststorehouseofnonrenewableresources.

Butatthesametimeweareseeingthiscollisionofalotofdifferenttrends.Technologyisgrowing
reallyquickly.IwasjustatapresentationthisweekwithAmoryLovins,thegreatFounderofthe
RockyMountainInstitute.Amorysaid,Thelowhangingfruitisgrowingfasterthanwecanharvest
it.

Wehavethesetechnologicalinnovations,yetwealsohavechangesindemographicsandpersonal
preferences,particularlywiththeyoungergeneration.Iactuallycurrentlyseetheoldergeneration
movingawayfromcarsandawayfromsuburbansprawlandmovingbackintowalkable
neighborhoods,andthesamethingwiththeyoungergeneration.

ItusedtobewhenyouandIweregrowingupthatwhenyouturnedsixteen,wemighthaveaskedour
parentsforacar.Now,whenkidsturnsixteen,theyaskforanUberaccount.Theyrenotinterestedin
acar,theymightwantanupscalebike,butnotthecar.

So,theconvergenceofthesechangingtechnologies,andthechangingdemographics,andthe
changingpreferencesamongdifferentagegroups,tome,spellsgreateropportunitythanwevehad
atanytimeinmylifetime.

Copyright2016WesternCuyahogaAudubon.
CreativeCommons3.0AttributionNoncommercialNoDerivativeWorks.
WesternCuyahogaAudubonSociety,4310BushAve.,Cleveland,OH44109
Email:
info@wcaudubon.org
Web:
www.wcaudubon.org

[00:08:19]
TomRomito:Well,folks,thereyouhaveit.ThehopeforthefuturethankstoleaderslikeJerry
Tinianow.

Copyright2016WesternCuyahogaAudubon.
CreativeCommons3.0AttributionNoncommercialNoDerivativeWorks.
WesternCuyahogaAudubonSociety,4310BushAve.,Cleveland,OH44109
Email:
info@wcaudubon.org
Web:
www.wcaudubon.org

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