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Face Time: Nonprofit employee talks about sustainability

Mariah Rose McKay is one of the coordinators of Sustainable September Spokane, a monthlong, communitywide event.  (Christopher Anderson)
Mariah Rose McKay is one of the coordinators of Sustainable September Spokane, a monthlong, communitywide event. (Christopher Anderson)

Mariah Rose McKay is one of the coordinators of Sustainable September Spokane, a monthlong effort to encourage people to explore ways to live cleaner and work smarter.

McKay, 26, is an employee at Spokane nonprofit Community-Minded Enterprises. The group hosted the first Sustainable September Spokane a year ago.

Q. How do you explain sustainable activities?

A. Sustainability is essentially the ability for a community to remain vibrant and maintain a quality of life. If there was a nuclear meltdown around us and we were not contaminated, would we be able to maintain our existence to the quality level we currently enjoy?

Q. What’s the goal of the month of events?

A. When people discuss the sustainability movement, it’s an abstract concept that takes some thought to wrap one’s head around.

So how do you talk about that in a concrete way with the public at large? How can you present a cross-section of all the work already going on, in the Inland Northwest, to build a world that is more healthy, more environmentally intact? This (month of events) is the answer to that. It’s a showcase and public education effort.

Q. What’s different this year from last year?

A. Instead of creating a laundry list of events, we’ve created eight tracks for eight topic areas. Each track is a semi-self-contained topic (such as local food, building and landscaping, or health and well being). Each topic has a volunteer committee with a track leader. And each committee has created a featured event and supporting events.

Q. How many public events are there?

A. More than 100.

Q. Where can we find that calendar?

A. It’s all at >sustainableseptemberspokane.org. The calendar color-codes the eight different tracks. … And the committees are still adding events. They’re looking for more partners in the community who would be a good fit and want to add more events to our calendar.

Q. If you’re a busy parent or active person, which events might be of interest?

A. I’d recommend the Main Street Fair, on Sept. 11. It’s a great way to have access to lots of kid activities and free giveaways. It’s a good way to learn about a lot of different organizations.

Another is the Spokane River Cleanup on Sept. 25 (starting at 9 a.m.). It’s popular and fun. It’s become the Bloomsday of environmental events. For instance it has a weirdest-junk contest for pulling things out of the river.

Q. Are the events free?

A. Many are free. Others have to have tickets purchased in advance. All that information can be found on our website. One event (in the Local Food track) is the Trezzi Farm “Ethics of Eating” dinner on Sept. 9. That costs $35.

Q. Will there be another Sustainable September next year?

A. There definitely will be. Despite the tightness of resources these days, this work is of the utmost importance and needs to continue to happen in one way or another.



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