Got sustainability?

Apeiron’s annual festival points the way to different possibilities
By IAN DONNIS  |  June 4, 2008
HysonINSIDE.jpg
SEIZE THE MOMENT When it comes to promoting sustainability, Hyson says we can pay now or
pay more later.

Spurred by rising food and fuel costs, growing numbers of Americans are taking up bicycling and gardening, and perhaps reconsidering the more costly habits of the not-so-distant boom times.

Promoting a more long-term view is the guiding mission of the Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living (apeiron.org), which will be staging its annual Sustainable Living Festi-val & Clean Energy Expo in Coventry this weekend (Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8).

Under the banner of having a good time, the festival will bring together an eco mall; music (with acts ranging from Gandolf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, and Cheryl Wheeler, to Grateful Dead and Neil Young tribute bands); workshops (from Bicycle Commuting 101 and How to Start Your Own Community Garden, to Socially Responsible In-vesting in Perspective); discussions of energy solutions (Build Your Own Wind Power Plant; Build Your Own Solar Cooker), and more. Full details are available at livingfest.org. Single day tickets are $15 and $10 in advance, $25 and $20 during the festival (the Phoenix is a co-sponsor).

While Americans are particularly wasteful in their consumption of energy and other resources, Bradley Grove Hyson, Apeiron’s founder and executive director, takes encour-agement from what he perceives as a growing sense of environmental awareness. We talked this week in Apeiron’s Providence office, located in a green building on Gordon Ave-nue in South Providence. 

In the current environment — in which people are pissed off about the price of gas, the economy is bad, and people are reconsidering some of their habits — does it make it easier to promote a message of sustainability?
As it relates to money, it [does], in that current context, although what we have found is that since Al Gore’s film and since the media prominence of An Inconvenient Truth, the in-terest in environmental building, renewable energy, mass transit, regional agriculture, and a green economy has really increased in an exponential fashion.

There’s a greater listening for this, whereas people may have [previously] been skeptical or said, “It’s not relevant to me.” I think we are becoming wiser as a society. I feel like I can’t open up a magazine or turn on the TV without seeing a green issue or a green special. As it relates to the economy, if you can tie these issues back to saving money, then peo-ple are all too willing to do it. But we feel like: sustainability — you’re going to pay for it now, or you’re going to pay for it later, 10 times that amount.  

What are some of the simple things that people can do in their own lives to promote sustainability?
We always feel it starts with a commitment — people making a commitment, saying this is important — is the most important thing to start with. Energy is a big one, and you can start with your house, doing something as simple as an energy audit. Those are usually free, or low-cost, or discounted. You can look at your home as a major place where you can add weatherproofing, look at some larger investments, or do simple things that are going to reduce your energy usage.

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