Goals are the seeds from which
the future grows.

Seeds for Change

Sustainability Cards

Ask us for samples to try out.

A Step Toward Change

Sustainability cards are seeds that carry the essence of the new goal. When a card is presented with eye contact and possibly a few words, the seed is watered with the sincerity of personal concern. Bringing this goal to a person's attention is often all it takes for new values to take root and begin growing in that person's worldview.

"I found one of your cards some 15 years ago on the ground here in Ottawa...never knowing where it came from, it did motivate me and I fashioned my own research cards after it - as I completed my Masters last year...now I know... and you must be thanked for the card helped me to solidify my own convictions on matters of sustainability."
Robert Wesley Johnston,
The cards are printed on recycled paper and come in two generic varieties, shown below. (They can be customized, with anything you want on the one side.)

"We used your sustainability cards in our Environment and Sustainability course in Russia last spring.  I think it was one of the best methodological innovations we found that works."

Tamara Savelyeva,  Environmental Studies Prof, University of Hong Kong
All such cards have this reference for sustainability on the back.

Well-being can be sustained when activities:
1 - use materials in continuous cycles.
2 - use continuously reliable sources of energy.
3 - come mainly from the qualities of being human
(i.e. creativity, communication, movement, appreciation,
and spiritual and intellectual development).

Long-term well-being is diminished when activities:
4 - require continual inputs of non-renewable resources.
5 - use renewable resources faster than their rate of renewal.
6 - cause cumulative degradation of the environment.
7 - require resources in quantities that undermine other people's well-being.
8 - lead to the extinction of other life forms.

(More detail about these points)

Seeds for change card 1

The card shown above is intended for situations where the meaning of the word "sustainability" is not clear. This applies to schools, where students are becoming familiar with significant issues, and to municipal councils and other organizations, where members are thinking about how they might serve the public good.

If you are able to provide cards for any such situation, please do not hesitate to ask us to send you enough for everyone involved. It is preferable for each participant to have their own copy for future consideration.

The other generic version takes the issue a step further by asking:

Seeds for change card 2

Give these to family, friends and others. Anything that is of interest to you, is of potential interest to them. Don't worry if they have yet to catch on to the sustainability issue. Introduce the topic without asking for, or expecting, any sort of response. The process works in people's minds and it takes time. For those completely new to the issues, the first card type may be preferable. You can raise the prospect of a fundamental change of direction later.

Distributing such cards enables us to raise the Question of Direction in a society where powerful media regularly asserts that there is no choice but to grow forever. Realizing that we don't have to "grow until we drop," requires finding out that an alternative exists.

The educational process supported by the cards is explained in:
A Strategy for Long-Term Well-Being

Breaching the Comfort Barrier

Advertising presses into personal space all the time to encourage ever more consumption. When faced with the challenge of informing people that the goal of expansion is due for review, many of us shy away from encountering those outside of our normal circle of relations.

There is much to be gained by reaching beyond familiar contacts. The media will not do this job for us. While community based media is still, sometimes, a viable way to reach out (and should be enlisted), nothing will replace person to person contact.

If we do not make the effort, who will? If you are considering passing out some cards and feel internal resistance, imagine your children or grandchildren, if you have any, or imagine yourself, several decades from now, having to deal with the consequence of our cultural denial about the fundamental change in direction that is necessary. At that future time, there will be a deep wish that someone in our time had made an effort to turn the situation around.
Be that person.

There are many ways to get cards
into the hands of others

* Carry cards with you in a way that enables easy retrieval &shyp; in a shirt pocket, or purse. Frequently, in line-ups at check-out counters, theatres and many other public places, one hears someone talking about climate change, the price of gas, resource conflicts, garbage, or any of the

other issues related to sustainability. When you hear such a comment, hand over a card. You could say, "You might find this interesting," offer a spontaneous comment, or simply smile or nod. What you are offering is a frame of reference that can help sort out what helps solve the problems they are concerned about, and what makes those problems worse. With concern for such issues increasingly entering people's thoughts, most people are grateful to receive a message expressing that there is a direction in which solutions can be found.

Introduce the Question of Direction at Public Events

The opportunity to distribute sustainability cards at meetings has presented itself to me a number of times.

One such gathering was a government sponsored conference with the word "Sustainability" in the event's name. There were close to 400 people present. At an early plenary, I stood up and mentioned that the word sustainability was being used frequently and questioned whether the meaning outlined on the cards was the same meaning understood by the organizers or, if their understanding differed, in what way was it different? I had put a copy of the first card with the reference facing up at every place setting in the auditorium. While my question was evaded by those at the head table, I'm sure that most of the 400 people present were considering their own position and listening for answers that were conspicuous by their absence. Most of the cards left the room with participants. I collected the rest for future use.

* At rallies and events

I gave away over 1200 cards in one day at a rally on Parliament Hill. All I did was mill around catching people by the eye, saying; "Your card." Whole lines of participants started holding out their hands to receive the offering.

Because the cards are small, they easily fit into a pocket, a quality not shared by booklets and flyers. Most likely the recipient will take a longer look at the card once they get home and some of them will file their card for later retrieval.

* Distribution Boxes

distribution box

These simple boxes make it possible to offer cards on an ongoing basis at a store or with an organization that is sympathetic to the issues. Note that the box can either be pinned up or, with the wooden base attached, placed on a counter.


There is a space provided on the box, in behind the cards, where one can put their contact information so that one can be notified when the box needs refilling. When a box is emptied, it is seldom kept around long if it is not refilled. Best is to keep an eye on it and refill it whenever it gets low.
* Strategic placement

Cards can be placed on waiting room seats, counters, pockets of clothing going to thrift stores, related library books, or any other place where they will be discovered.

Background details
Since we began distributing these cards in 1972, we have found them affixed to refrigerator doors and bathroom mirrors, and we've seen them retrieved from wallets and purses during conversations. Often the revelation of such cards comes with stories of places where they had been used to help others understand the issue of sustainability.

The Question of Direction program is fully explained in Chapter 15 of Life, Money & Illusion, within the context of how social change takes place.

Feel free to ask for cards and distribution boxes if you can put them to work. While we never turn down donations to help pay for materials, we recognize that the people who can contribute and those who can pass materials along are not always the same. We would regret missing any opportunity to put the basic idea into someone's hands.

Customized Cards
You can order either of the two generic types of card with your contact information on them, or have us put whatever you want on the front. This service is available at cost. In all cases, the outline of sustainability is on the back, to identify the alternative goal. Contact us directly, or follow these ordering details.

Life, Money & Illusion;
Living on Earth as if we want to stay

This 448 page book by Mike Nickerson provides a detailed foundation for the Question of Direction program. Ask for it at your favourite bookstore or send $20.00 plus $10 postage and handling to the Sustainability Project or phone to order by credit card. Order online
Shipping Options
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Ordering "Life, Money & Illusion" in quantity.

Discounted prices on multiple book purchases:
Orders of five or more are available at $15 per book, to encourage you to help distribute it.

Multiple purchase options
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A summary and other details are available at:

Donations are always welcome
There is much that can be done to press the Question of Direction onto the public agenda once we have the resources to proceed. Donations can be made directly to the Sustainability Project, or, for a Canadian charitable receipt, make your donation out to WFF- Sustainability Project. Donations can be mailed, or made by credit card at: (613) 482-1208.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Sustainability Project
2799 McDonald's Corners Rd.
Lanark, Ontario, Canada K0G 1K0

phone (613) 482-1208
sustain5 [at] web.ca