top of page

Go Towards the Green

To paraphrase the Declaration of Independence -

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed

by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the

pursuit of Happiness.


Without stretching our imagination we know “Life” means the basics - food, clothing, and shelter as well as clean air, clean water and green space.


We should also remind ourselves that a pillar of Happiness is relationships; with each other, our

communities, our region, and the outdoors.


We think of ourselves as green. And with good reason. We worked hard to become the oldest LEED Gold building in the state of Tennessee. We have been by definition a zero waste facility for nearly 10 years.

We track our local spending and our environmentally friendly spending. And we track our solar energy



But it’s not enough. We need to do more.


And we can. We can rely on our mission, our first principles of quality and safety, and our guiding

principles to lead the way. We can rely on our tried-and-true strategies of simplicity and taking small

steps to move towards the green. Furthermore, we should understand that any and all actions we take

are connected. We should remember one such connection goes to an aspect of responsible citizenship -

people are watching.


It all starts with us.


Here's what we can do:


In the name of quality, we can purchase the best quality items we can afford. This may lead to a

longer life for our purchases and fewer purchases in the long run.


We can ‘vote with our dollars’ and make more thoughtful purchases. We should work to source 75% of our purchases locally. And we should make 75% of our purchases environmentally


Remembering that food, clothing, and shelter are basic needs for all of us, we can aim actions directly at these areas.


Food – Though we infrequently provide food for participants, we can start to educate everyone as to the importance of knowing your grower/producer, knowing how your food is produced and where it comes from.


Clothing – We can urge people to buy used clothing as far as possible. And, like food, we can work to know where our clothes come from and how they are made. We can also work hard to keep our clothes in play as long as possible. After all, that worn pair of jeans is more a friend with stories and memories than just a pair of pants. Patched clothing can be a symbol of friendship and true ownership. We can also provide the patches.


Shelter – We can reduce our carbon footprint. We can power Crawford House with 100% renewable energy by 2027. We can and should continue our practice of requesting housekeeping services prn.




We can continue and expand our use of ‘good on one side’ paper. This should account for 100%

of our use of paper. We then can work to educate the rest of the campus.


We can continue our practice of re-purposing retired climbing ropes. And we should keep

exploring potential uses for other items we are forced to retire [harnesses, helmets and so on].


We can expand our practice of playing ‘The Game”. Older staff give gently used gear to younger

staff with the provision that they too will continue the practice – play “The Game” – when they

can. Make this mainstream for us.


For 10 years we have diverted 90% of our waste stream from the landfill – or so we think. Actually, if we

work upstream we learn that recyclers typically only recycle about 2/3 [or less] of the material that

comes to them. Paper is the most recycled item, but it can only be recycled a finite number of times.

Metal can be recycled infinitely but requires heat to be re-used. And despite our best efforts, only 10%

or so of plastic ever gets recycled.

Though an easy place to begin, recycling can often lead to complacency and the idea that we are acting

sustainably, and no further action is needed. Point in fact, we should recycle, but only after we have

reduced and re-used.



As climate change seeps into our lives and as we move into a post COVID world, we must be resilient.


A term borrowed from engineers; resiliency is the ability to bounce back into shape, or recovery quickly

from stresses. It is also well captured in the Finnish concept of sisu. Our first principle of quality as well

as the guiding principles of ‘fostering flexibility’ and ‘growing and taking care of our staff’ provide

lessons for us.

I have been an endurance athlete for most of my life. Now I spend most of my outdoor sports time trail

running with my dog. This involves a certain way of moving – light, quick, efficient; ‘quiet’ if you will.

These skills can help us be nimble and agile as a group.

Here’s what we can do:

Continue to understand and pay attention to all our relationships – and keep them in-person.

There is likely no more important tool for us than this.

We can teach and model the friluftsliv life [Finnish - there is no bad weather]. We can show

people we can have fun outside beyond the 50° – 80° ‘comfort’ window.

We can investigate what healthy and resilient workplaces might look like. And we can re-do our

Fit.Green.Happy.® workplace program.

While keeping our ‘do business with a handshake’ philosophy, we can give our senior staff the

flexibility to pay extra attention to groups worried about weather issues. This may take many

forms and we’ll trust our staff to make these decisions.

Often idyllic weather happens with short notice and at different times. We can give our senior

staff the ability to quickly schedule ‘pop up’ experiences. This demands quick and effective

marketing as well as a willingness from participants to go outside at atypical times.

bottom of page