Sustainability has always been a passion for Marc DeBrock and he practices what he preaches, too. Marc owns and operates MMK Solar Thermal. “I’ve always been interested in renewable energy and sustainable living techniques,” he said. “But connecting with others who have the same ideas was hard, especially up here in the Northwoods.”
So three years ago, Marc went to Nicolet College to try to find other people he could network with about sustainable living. He wanted to put together a committee that would explore sustainable practices that were happening right in this area.
Sustainability is not a new concept, but it is one Americans have drifted from over the years. Many people think it encompasses being “green,” but there is much more to it than that. It’s about responsible development of food, transportation, shelter and the environment in the present so that the world will be suitable for generations to come. The concept of sustainability centers on a balance of society, economy and environment for current and future health. Sustainability has many different factions that intersect, including people, planet and profit, which is commonly referred to as the “three-legged stool.”
Three years ago, Marc and a couple of other like-minded aficionados put together a sustainability fair where people could come together with their ideas and products to show others how to include sustainability in their everyday lives, whether that meant purchasing a solar panel or local, organically grown vegetables. “It’s not about making a major change to your lifestyle,” said Marc. “We wanted to show people that they can take baby steps to make their life, and their neighborhoods and community a better place to live.”
Take, for instance, Marc’s business of installing solar panels. “Solar energy has been around a long time, but many people think it is out of their budget to install,” he said. “But there are systems that just heat your water. Even if you take this step, you are making the world more sustainable.”
The committee chose Earth Day, which is Monday, April 22, to have their Sustainability Fair this year. It will be held at the ArtStart building in downtown Rhinelander from noon to 6 p.m. More than 100 invitations were sent out to area businesses inviting them to take part. Some of the businesses participating include builders and contractors who use environmentally-friendly practices and materials; beekeepers; organic food growers; solar electric suppliers; and farmers.
There are sure to be more as the event nears.
Marc is hoping that people come and visit the fair, and learn about how they can become part of this movement that brings neighborhoods and communities together. “There are so many sustainable products and methods out there to learn about,” he said. “Our hope is that we can grow this movement which is aimed at making local communities more prosperous places to live.”