SA Tomorrow Logo. Courtesy image.

SA Tomorrow will host its first Sustainability Forum on Tuesday, June 23 from 5-8 p.m. at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The forum welcomes community input to get San Antonians to start thinking about the Sustainability Plan, the future of the city, and the smart growth tactics needed to maintain and enhance the city’s economic and environmental goals.

SA Tomorrow is divided into three plans – Comprehensive, Transportation, and Sustainability – to prepare for the more than one million people expected to move to the San Antonio area by 2040.

A final list of speakers for the Sustainability Forum is yet to be confirmed, but the anticipated representatives will be from CPS Energy, San Antonio Water System (SAWS), San Antonio River Authority (SARA), the San Antonio Food Bank, Build San Antonio Green, several City departments, and members of the business community.

Parking in the Convention Center garage and at downtown meters is free after 5 p.m. For a detailed map of Downtown Tuesday’s free parking, click here.

The forum plans to be more than a panel or lecture; activities will include TEDx-style presentations, speed planning, facilitated brainstorming, and a “Sustainovation” (Sustainability-Innovation) Tech Zone.

Chief Sustainability Officer Douglas Melnick
Chief Sustainability Officer Douglas Melnick

Douglas Melnick, chief sustainability officer for the City, said there has been an increase of demand in recent years for a more livable and sustainable San Antonio with job opportunities and a walkable downtown.

So it’s now or never to get people brainstorming and planning for a city with a better quality of life.

The sustainability forum, Melnick said, is designed to educate the community on the facts and fiction of sustainability.

“There are so many actions throughout the city — green buildings, renewable energy, community gardens— that represent a sustainable community,” he stated in an email. “We want to help make that link to sustainability as a positive impact on people’s lives.”

The Sustainability Plan is a guide for enhancing the City’s quality of life and overall resilience while balancing the impact of San Antonio’s expected growth with existing economic, environmental, and social resources.

“San Antonio is a vibrant, culturally diverse city that continues to attract growing numbers of tourists and new residents,” he stated. “While this is an exciting time for our City’s future, we must take steps to ensure we are prepared for this growth.”

The forum will act as one of those steps. Previous steps have included a kick-off event and an online survey that asked for community input regarding the three tiers of the SA Tomorrow plan.

He said the forum will act as a space for people to learn and share ideas.

“The hope is that this education will inspire action,” he stated. “The actions we have taken to date are great, but there is more work to do and the City and business community cannot do it alone. We need input and action from all residents.”

Melnick noted the recent floods and the long-standing drought as indicators of climate change, stating that San Antonio must take the initiative to prepare for these changes.

The City’s Office of Sustainability is also hosting an SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards Show on Sept. 25 at the Carver Theater, and the deadline for nominations is July 10. Nominations include programs, projects and building structures that promote sustainability in the city. To be eligible for an award, the projects and structures must have been initiated or constructed between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2014.

*Featured/top image: SA Tomorrow Logo. Courtesy image. 

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Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....