About Our Projects

The projects of Sydney's Thumb are the outgrowth of dialogue among a group of healers, scientists, entrepreneurs, writers and other professionals about innovative ways to reverse current environmental trends, protect biodiversity, promote sustainabile development, and address international humanitarian needs. Though limited in scope and depth, the initial slate of projects will be broadened and deepened over time.

The philosophy in picking the projects is to define and support new ways to build community, amplify social networks, and draw upon the creative ingenuity of responsible entrepreneurs. All of this fits with the more general mission of Sydney's Thumb to promote mindful travel and moderate the wastefulness and global impacts of conventional travel. The selection of projects is informed by the work of visionary interdisciplinary thinkers who appreciated the importance of protecting the commons. In particular, these include E.F. Schumacher, John Kenneth Galbraith, Rachel Carson, Ken Wilber, Robert Coles, Jacques Cousteau, Aldo Leopold, Gary Zukav, E.O. Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Larry Dossey and many others. Our practical focus borrows heavily from work of Nelson Mandela, Habitat for Humanity, The Grameen Foundation, Newman's Own, Doctor's Without Borders, Dr. Paul Farmer and Schumacher College.

Neighborhoods and Social Contracts

Sydney's Thumb is working with communities in Boston and Seattle to use neighborhood social contracts as a basis for conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gasses. The project involves members of the community contacting neighbors and soliciting written commitments to reduce waste and toxic consumption and otherwise lessen the generation of CO2.

Unlike other projects of this kind, the pilots emphasize the importance of montoring and follow-up, as well as the development of incentives for participation. The two pilots should provide a useful example of how to mobilize community by way of social contracts.

Climate Change Education

We are developing a number of materials, including a toolkit, that will assist community activists in convening public forums and teach-ins on climate change. The toolkit will include downloadable reference documents, flyers on climate-change indicators, trends, frequently asked questions and innovative ways that people can make a difference at home, in school and at work.

Peace Gardens

Sydney's Thumb supports the Green Vietnam Organic Gardening Project of John Berlow near Hanoi, founded in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. The organic vegetable gardens and fruit orchards at Vietnam Friendship Village involve hundreds of volunteers as well as members of VFV, a center which provides housing, nourishment, treatment, education and training for victims of Agent Orange. Annually the garden produces chemically-free vegetables, fruits, and fish that feed members of the community as well as the needy. The garden is recognized as a model of organic gardening and low-intensity agriculture.

Veterinary Aid International

This is an outreach effort to help animal-rescue programs meet their veterinary needs. Sydney's Thumb is working collaboratively with Dr. Holly Cheever as well as the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine.

Green Lodges

"Green Lodges" is a project to assist hotels, lodges, spas and B and B's to reduce wasteloads and carbon emissions. This is considered a centerpiece of our effort to promote eco-travel and moderate the impacts of conventional travel. Working with noted architects and ecologists, we are identifying appropriate technologies applicable to construction, maintenance and general operations. An additional aspect is to define those measure appropriate for specific habitatd and environmental conditions. This is an outgrowth of past work with the Pacific Watershed Institute which developed bmp's for over 400 watersheds in the United States.

Coming soon: various guidance materials for lodges, hotels, spas and B and B's

Critical Path

Critical Path is the strategic-planning arm of Sydney's Thumb. Activities include interdisciplinary problem-solving. For the most part, we will draw on the principles of system analysis, rapid assessment techniques, and principles of dynamic system modeling. Expertise includes the following disciplines: medicine, engineering, architecture, business, ecology, communications, the arts, law, international relations and psychology.