Best in Sustainability ’11

Happy new year! Here is a recap of our top blog posts from 2011.

Susan Crow, MCAD SDO alum, shared what it’s like to build a sustainable luxury brand from the bottom up in her piece Eco=Lux Jewelery. Published October 2011.

“Real luxury is knowing the jewelry you are wearing is as ethical as it is beautiful. Creating a metamorphosis of change, East Fourth Street honors our environment by using recycled metal, conflict free diamonds and responsibly mined stones. This process of creation offers jewelry that is sustainable and original—not to mention stunning.” Read more…

Cindy Gilbert, MCAD MASD director, learned through physical pain what Freedom From Stuff really means. Published September 2011.

“As I sat drinking my single-serve soda, I thought about how much stuff I have waiting for me at home. How much energy and resources did my stuff embody? Where would it all end up? What of it did I really need versus simply want? I thought about the potential freedom I would feel to not have, want, buy, care for, protect, and use as many things. I think I am starting to understand why the retired folks in my life are offloading their stuff on me. Physical and emotional freedom from stuff costs nothing and it weighs nothing. Now that’s something I am prepared to carry with me.” Read more…

Dan Halsey, MCAD MASD faculty, gave us the permaculture lowdown in 12 Sustainability Principles of Permaculture. Published in June 2011.

“Nothing exists outside a relationship. Everything is related in the working systems of nature, economics, or package design. A designer that does not take into account the effect delivered works will have on users, resources or society, depletes the designs potential and future viability. Systems thinking requires that we develop the awareness and skills to define and design the functional relationships, which reduces waste and enhances, yield from existing relationships. Permaculture is a practice that uses a set of principles to assure the long-term viability of self-sustaining systems in agriculture and offers sustainable design lessons. Permanent plus agriculture is Permaculture.” Read more…

Rita Penrod, MCAD SDO alum, told us how she was able to Get a Career, Get a Life in one fell swoop. Published May 2011.

“About midway through the double-zero decade I decided that I needed to enhance my skills and move in a direction that would give me a possible edge over other designers and creative directors. What I got was a life AND career changing experience.” Read more…

Denise DeLuca, MCAD MASD faculty, showed us an alternative business model in Nature’s Business Plan. Published March 2011.

“What is nature’s alternative to the old plan-and-execute model? Nature, actually, has many alternatives to that, one of which is to sense and respond. Nature’s organisms and systems are full of feedback loops constantly operating at all scales of time and space – feedback loops that are composed of perfectly matched sensors, receivers, and responders. The sense-and-respond approach allows appropriate positive outcomes to emerge in nature rather than pushing pre-determined goal forwards, regardless of changing conditions.” Read more…

Susan Crow

Susan Crow is a sustainable designer, entrepreneur and CEO of East Fourth Street, a luxury eco-jewelry business in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her pieces are handmade, sustainable and eco-luxurious; crafted from 100% recycled or Fairmined gold and silver, ethical Fair trade gemstones that can be traced from mine to market and recycled diamonds in a low impact, environmentally conscious studio. Previously, Susan worked as a product designer for Target Inc. and their vendors for 7 years before launching East Fourth Street in 2010. She uses many of the tools and concepts that she learned at MCAD to design sustainable products and to grow her sustainable business, including systems thinking methodologies, life cycle assessment, innovation techniques, and ethics-based marketing methods. She completed a Professional Certificate in Sustainable Design from MCAD in 2009. Susan is based in Minnesota.

Cindy Gilbert

Cindy Gilbert is the founding director of MCAD’s Sustainable Design program which is home to the fully online, multidisciplinary MA in Sustainable Design (MASD) that is the first of its kind in the world. In this role, she fosters a culture of awareness and creativity through sustainable, innovative and collaborative design. The MASD program blends theory, practice and leadership into a holistic, hands-on learning experience that culminates in student-driven thesis work that brings novel, sustainability-focused products and services to fruition.

Cindy has taught numerous courses and workshops, around the world and online, in the fields of biology, sustainability and biomimicry. She is founder of a consultancy that specializes in innovative online and sustainability education projects with recent clients that include VentureWell, the Biomimicry Institute, the University of Montana,, GeekPuff, and the Green Building Research Institute. Most recently, she served for nearly four years as the founding director of university education at the Biomimicry Institute where she developed and managed all higher education programs, including the biomimicry professional certification program, annual biomimicry education summits, biomimicry affiliate and fellows programs, and biomimicry design challenges. Cindy is based in Montana.

Daniel Halsey

Dan Halsey is a certified permaculture designer and instructor for multiple academic institutions and organizations. Daniel holds a BS in Temperate Climate Polyculture Design and a MA in Horticulture. His interest in agro-ecosystems and edible forest gardens began with an introduction to polyculture design in 2003. Polyculture plant systems are patterned after forest ecology where each plant contributes to the health of the ecological niche and soil community. Using skills and creative concepting from a 25 year advertising career, Dan develops ecological system designs for sustainable landscapes. Dan travels nationally, hired to design, instruct, and consult for planning of intentional communities, agro-ecosystems, and broad-acre restoration. Dan is based in Minnesota.

Rita Penrod

Rita Penrod is a designer and sustainability consultant for FourFive Sustainable Design based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Motivated by a desire for positive change, Rita’s work approaches sustainability through holistic systems thinking – with the understanding that everything is designed, from products and services to businesses and lifestyles, empowering all people to create a more sustainable existence. She uses systems thinking methodologies, life cycle assessment, innovation techniques and ethics-based marketing methods to design products, strategies and communications for our clients that positively affect the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. Rita believes Four Five’s thoughtful and creative
approach is critical to a company’s survival in this era of consumer awareness, economic challenges, and tightening environmental regulations. Rita graduated with a Professional Certificate in Sustainable Design in 2009. Rita is based in Minnesota.

Denise DeLuca

Denise DeLuca is co-founder of Vibrant OS, an innovation and leadership development company that helps leaders and their teams build cultures that support continuous innovation. Denise was co-founder of BCI: Biomimicry Creative for Innovation, a network of creative professional change agents driving ecological thinking for radical transformation. Denise is also a consultant for Swedish Biomimetics 3000 and was previously outreach director for the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute. Denise is a licensed civil engineer (PE), a LEED-AP, and holds a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering with a focus on modeling landscape-scale surface and ground water interactions. Denise is based in Washington State.