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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Natural Profile: Shannon Binns of Sustain Charlotte

Jun 04, 2012 03:30PM
Growing up in rural Iowa, Shannon Binns spent much of his childhood playing in the woods and creek near his home and growing food in a neighborhood garden. He acknowledges his mother’s appreciation for nature and all things wild as having a lasting influence on him.

But reading David Orr’s book Earth in Mind in 2002 had a profound impact on his level of awareness about what we have done to our planet’s natural systems and the consequences this has for all living things, ourselves included. Binns, who has a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy, made a conscious decision to dedicate his work to environmental education.

When he moved to Charlotte in 2007 he said he became aware of the negative impacts that resulted from the city’s poorly planned growth: severe air pollution, growing traffic congestion, dramatic tree loss, heavily polluted waterways, worsening segregation along racial and socioeconomic lines, and a designation as one of the nation’s least sustainable cities.

Binns was inspired to start Sustain Charlotte, a nonprofit organization helping to advance a region-wide sustainability movement by serving as a catalyst for change. The effort brings government officials, business leaders and citizens together on sustainable initiatives that advance Charlotte's economic vitality, social equity and environmental quality. He believes we all have the capacity to be better stewards of our planet.

“All of us have the opportunity each day to either improve or harm the health of our environment, and therefore the quality of our lives and our community by the choices that we make: how we get around, what we eat, how much energy we use, whether we participate in our democracy beyond election day, and so on. We have so much more power than we realize.”

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