The Southeast Sustainability Directors Network collaborates to accelerate the adoption of econmically viable, socially equitable, and environmentally responsible best practices in American Southeastern communities. We do this by sharing information and problem solving together. SSDN is a project of the Chalice Oak Foundation.
   The Southeast Sustainability Directors Network:
   October Update
See You Soon!
Many of you are planning to attend the SSDN Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL, November 5-7.  By now you have a final agenda and logistics packet, and should have made all your travel arrangements and paid registration fees.  Please contact Kim with any remaining questions, and look forward to learning and sharing with your peers in sunny Florida next week!

Funding Application Updates

SSDN members and SEEA submitted of a final letter of intent to the USDN Innovation Fund around equity as it relates to energy efficiency. It was not invited to propose, so we will continue to look for opportunities to move on this issue as a collective voice in the Southeast.  Thanks to Knoxville’s Erin Gill  and SEEA’s Lisa Wilson for leading this effort.

Potential Collaboration Opportunity

SEEA’s Cyrus Bhedwar introduced our network to Daniel Hill, founder of the Green Impact Challenge.  Green Impact Campaign is a national nonprofit that provides university students with cloud-based training and tools to conduct free energy audits for local, small businesses. Collectively, Green Impact Campaign is working to reduce the environmental impact of small business while better equipping the next generation of climate leaders.
As small commercial energy efficiency tends to be a tough market, Cyrus thought SSDN might benefit from getting to know Daniel because he’s adding a useful tool and approach to reaching that market. If you feel your community would benefit from the Green Impact Challenge, feel free to contact Daniel or Susanna.

 The State of the South 

Pete Plastrik of Innovation Network for Communities sent a report produced by his colleague David Dodson in Durham, N.C. called “Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity for the Next Generation”. This report takes a deep look at youth mobility in the South. It features analysis of state and regional data and profiles of nine Southern communities. At a time when political gridlock at the state and national level are freezing the pursuit of policies that promote education reform and economic development, the report says change must come at the level where the impact of stagnant economic mobility hits hardest: in communities.
Key highlights include the suggestion that Southern communities need to create an “infrastructure of opportunity” for youth and young adults. That infrastructure consists of a clear and deliberate set of pathways and supports that connect youth to educational credentials and economic opportunity. It requires the involvement of a broad cross-section of the community—employers, education systems, community-based organizations, policy makers, civic and neighborhood leaders, philanthropy, and young people themselves.

Top SSDN Post on USDN

Please continue to share with us what you're learning or needing to know on We look forward to sharing your post in the newsletter next month.

Can't log on to USDN?  Reply to this email or send Susanna a note and we'll fix that. Posters, be sure to tag the Southeast so we can all see.  A tutorial for the site is here.


Brian Blackmon

Project Manager
City of Knoxville

Brian Blackmon grew up in small town South Carolina in an agricultural family. The first in this family to attend college, he chose English and Anthropology to match a love of words and an interest in social behavior. Post-college, Brian worked as a lab tech for a non-profit that performed archaeological contracting for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Following an interest in public land management, Brian joined AmeriCorps to explore career options. First he worked with the Montana Grass Conservation Commission on a historic document preservation project and capacity building in rural Montana.
He served his second term in Knoxville, Tennessee with the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee’s (CAC) Beardsley Community Farm.  He spent his year implementing community gardening programs with homeless and disenfranchised populations, and became interested in community development and social movement building. Following his AmeriCorps term, Brian was hired as program coordinator of CAC’s AmeriCorps program.  During his four years with CAC, Brian placed 160 people in local environmental jobs, started the Knox County Conservation Corps, oversaw seasonal FEMA emergency food distributions in Knox County, and developed grant writing and management skills.
Brian came to work for the City of Knoxville in August of this year.  He notes the job transition has been fantastic and a little overwhelming. SSDN and USDN members have been hospitable, open, and helpful: an environment that he feels has helped level the learning curve.
When asked about challenges, he says that getting a handle on open data and coordinating data from various sources to meet city sustainability goals has been his biggest undertaking. He sees the opportunities that exist to improve processes through analysis of existing trends and conditions, but with many players involved it can be complicated. He is most excited about the advancement of Urban Agriculture in Knoxville, as they are close to having new ordinances ready for council approval.
His vision for Knoxville is that it is a sustainable city with a community that effectively works together on social, environmental, and economic needs.  He sees his role in that process as helping to highlight points of pride. He wants to invite people to celebrate community achievements as their own, and build on the culture change that has been happening slowly over time.
Links to Feature Projects:
Jacob Solar third-party financing. We’d be happy to share notes on this since it is in the TVA service area.
Partners for Places award for $60,000 to perform residential energy efficiency education initiatives.



Southeast Sustainability Directors Network
P.O. Box 27534
Knoxville, TN 37927

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