The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)


May 27, 2013

Author Francis Koster Shares Simple Solutions to Big Problems

Monday, May 27, 2013 — Author Francis Koster told audience members May 16 that the way to get people to change is to provide them with an alternative.

He spoke at the Center for the Environment at Catawba College on his new book, Discovering the New America: Where Communities are Solving National Problems, stories of proven cost-effective solutions that communities and organizations have adopted to address challenges.  

Koster received his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in the Program for the Study of the Future. He has served as vice president of the Nemours Foundation and as a university administrator as well as a research associate with the Center for the Environment, advising the Center on various initiatives such as the Campaign for Clean Air and Energy Corps.

At the lecture Koster explained that many health risks and energy crises are not immediately visible. Unless a solution is offered along with a warning, he said, many people will not take action.

“We're all human,” he said.

“We all want things to go on as they've always gone on.”   

Koster presented the audience with a series of case studies from communities that successfully overcame challenges. Some of his examples were close to home: Kannapolis managed to decrease its energy bill by replacing a water supply pump, and schools in Greensboro started a life-goals program to decrease the rate of teen pregnancy.

There were other success stories further afield: schools in Massachusetts that built more energy-efficient buildings; towns that saved 20-30 percent of fuel by installing roundabouts rather than stoplights or stop signs; and public buildings that installed motion detectors to control lighting or replaced old heating equipment.

He also applauded the effectiveness of “sweat-time” labeling — marking packaged food with the amount of time it will take to burn off the calories it contains, instead using of a content label.

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