Ijams Sustainable Future Center

In collaboration with the Sustainable Future Center, Ijams Nature Center hosted a conversation about sustainability on Tuesday night.

As part of the “Take Action” discussion series, Executive Director for Sustainable Future Center, David Bolt, spoke to the Zoom audience about sustainability at home and the big impacts of small actions.

Sarah Brobst, Ijams’s Visitor Services Director, introduced Bolt, and spoke about the importance of the “Take Action” discussion series.

“Take Action is in its third year of fun and exciting ways to promote sustainability, big and small ways to save the planet,” Brobst said.

Bolt first talked about his mindset change when he started thinking seriously about sustainability in the early 2000s.

“I transitioned from being pessimistic to very optimistic… most of the problems people stress over today have solutions that are easy to discover,” Bolt said.

Bolt talked about his inspirations in sustainability, including childhood experiences of conserving food waste and the conversion of a lake house with the goal of a net zero energy usage, using a solar thermal system with a grid system and battery backup.

After that project, Bolt worked on the West Tennessee Solar Farm, which was the biggest solar project in the area at the time. Bolt also embraced the Nissan Leaf and Tesla’s cars, both major electric cars especially in the early 2010s.

“I made the decision once I got the Leaf to remove anything that used gasoline in my life… so by 2013 I sold everything that used gasoline,” Bolt said.

Bolt talked about the concept of permaculture, which means a society that uses resources regeneratively, so it can be permanently self-sustainable.

The Sustainable Future Center is located in South Knoxville and has its own library with over a thousand books, focuses on working with youth in Knoxville, building soil, catching and storing water, solar energy production and cultivating a garden, among other sustainable initiatives.

“One of the prime missions of the Sustainable Future Center is to create an engaged community, which values compassion, community and competence,” Bolt said.

One major aspect of the center is the garden, which was a parking lot just five years ago. Now, it’s a sustainable garden with fertile soil from chicken manure and other sustainable

Bolt then answered questions from audience members, speaking about small sustainable actions at home like making deodorant or toothpaste and reusing glass bottles.

“The main thing is to start somewhere small and get a quick win, and just keep the process going,” Bolt said.

Bolt said that the best way to get involved is to volunteer with the center, including taking classes or the adopt-a-chicken program, which is a six-week program teaching participants how to raise chickens that become part of the center’s group of chickens.

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