Fellow Travelers

Donella Meadows sometimes used the term “Fellow Travelers” to describe friends and colleagues who shared her vision of a just and sustainable path for humanity.  The term also aptly describes the many organizations that are, like the Institute, working to achieve that goal.

Here are five organizations that were directly impacted by Donella Meadows’ life and work:

Balaton Group

The Balaton Group, founded in 1982 by Donella and Dennis Meadows, is a cross-disciplinary global forum for leaders and thinkers in sustainable development. Since its founding Group members have advanced the boundaries of sustainability research and strategy via books, conferences, computer models, training programs, planning methods, and educational games. They have also been leaders in numerous organizations committed to sustainability, including: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the LEAD International training program, Japan for Sustainability, the Goa 2100 scenario process and the “Race to Save the Planet” television series.

For a great introduction to the spirit and work of the Balaton group over the last 30 years, we recommend watching this excellent video.

The Balaton Group from Balaton Group on Vimeo.

Climate Interactive

Climate Interactive is a consortium of systems modelers, climate scientists, writers and designers dedicated to creating powerful “open innovation” media that help people visualize the long-term climate impacts of decisions being undertaken today. Initiated at the Sustainability Institute in collaboration with MIT, it is now a freestanding organization that hopes to “help all of us – from ordinary citizens to climate treaty negotiators – understand and accomplish the actions that can help stabilize the climate system.” To advance these goals, the consortium has developed leading edge climate simulators, which are now being used at the highest levels of government worldwide. To take a tour of En-ROADS, their most recent climate simulation, click here.

Cobb Hill Cohousing Community

When Donella Meadows founded the Sustainability Institute in 1996, her vision included a cohousing community to be located on 270 acres in rural Hartland, Vermont. Today it consists of an eco-village of 23 households, an organic farm with high pastures and a large regenerating forest. The farm supports 10 agricultural enterprises managed by members of the community.

The mutually agreed purpose of the community is “to learn, practice, and share the art of living sustainably, productively, joyfully, in ways that replenish ourselves, our communities, and the natural world, and that deepen our spiritual development and awareness.” To watch a beautiful short video about the farm and community, please click here.

The Sustainable Food Laboratory (SFL)

SFL is a multi-stakeholder project committed to making the mainstream food system more sustainable. In partnership with major food companies and diverse NGOs, the lab brings small-scale farming systems into the global food chain by improving their competitiveness and sustainability. By encouraging local sourcing the lab intends to improve the livelihoods of smallholders and their communities while mitigating the climate impacts of long-haul distribution.

Founded by Hal Hamilton, former executive director of the Sustainability Institute, SFL was spun out of the Institute in 2009 to become a freestanding organization. Its headquarters are in one of the original farmhouses at Cobb Hill in Hartland, Vermont USA.

The Sustainability Leaders Network

Inspired by whole-systems thinkers like Donella Meadows, Joanna Macy, and Aldo Leopold, the SLN brings leadership approaches, tools, and capacity building to talented individuals who are creating inspiring solutions for social and environmental challenges. One aspect of this work includes connecting and engaging with each of our seventy-four Donella Meadows Leadership Fellows to deepen their impacts as sustainability leaders. The SLN also offers a variety of leadership trainings, guided visioning exercises, and sustainability coaching programs. These programs aim to build capacity and accelerate the spread and adoption of sustainable solutions by teaching leadership practices such as visioning, systems thinking, reflective conversation, and creative expression.

About DMI

Since its founding in 1996 by environmental leader Donella Meadows, our Institute has been at the forefront of sustainability thinking and training. Our initiatives have addressed economic, environmental, and social challenges from a range of angles and at many levels. In everything we do, the disciplines of systems thinking and organizational learning inform and shape our work. It is this focus on whole-system analysis, combined with careful listening, truth telling, and visioning, that make the Donella Meadows Institute unique among sustainability organizations.  Read More

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