A Model for Whole Community Sustainability Education

In just over a week I will be presenting two papers at the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education Biannual Conference. One of those papers is on my academic research and the other is on this project: The Eco-Thrifty Renovation. I’ll share some of the slides I’ve put together for a PowerPoint presentation.

Over the last year we have learned a lot about turning an abandoned house into an energy-efficient home, and using that experience as a model for whole community sustainability education. We have had our ups and downs, successes and failures. We have learned a lot about the tricky propositions of building partnerships and cultivating interest in low-budget / high performance home and garden design. We started out with the blog and workshop offerings.

Simultaneously, we initiated a monthly permaculture gathering to facilitate communication and inspire cooperation.


We also put together a PowerPoint on the project to take out into the community.


We had some nice coverage through the local newspapers.


Our hard work started paying off as others approached us about partnering on projects. The first was the Sustainable Whanganui Trust with an interest in expanding the Sustainable Schools Programme. Over the 2011 school year we developed a number of excellent education experiences for students in year 1 through year 13. I won’t go into all of them in this post as they are profiled in other posts on this blog.

Another partnership for sustainability education emerged after I volunteered to run the waste management for a large YMCA event which diverted over 95% of materials from landfill.

Even more exciting, we’ve been approached by a local Maori community interested in sustainable village development and high quality sustainable education for their young people. More on this exciting project later.


We also recently received funding from the Port Bowen Trust to run an afternoon programme for children in our neighborhood during the 2012 school year.


Other partnerships and projects we have in development are Keen Green Teens, a leadership development project (with the Sisters of St. Joseph) and adult literacy and numeracy courses through a local adult learning centre. There is one more, but I’ll save that for another time.

Starting from scratch on the house and on these education initiatives has been extremely difficult, but also rewarding. We are dedicated to the highest standards of sustainability and sustainable education, and we are always seeking to partner with likeminded others. Are you one? Please let us know.

Peace, Estwing

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