JISC News Archive

October 2013

JISC to begin study of Nebraska communities’ communications strategies

How do Nebraska communities engage in civic deliberation and decision-making? Are communications strategies employed taking sustainability into consideration? Deliberational sustainability and communications strategies by towns, civic organizations, businesses and individuals in Nebraska are to be the focus of a study we will be conducting in the near future. Under the direction of Dr. Jay Leighter, Professor of Communications Studies at Creighton University and JISC board member, we will be focusing three different kinds of communities:

  • Communities, organizations or agencies that have undertaken projects that contribute to sustainability, or have sustainability as a core goal;
  • Communities, organizations or agencies that would like to or are mandated to undertake projects in which sustainability could/should be a core goal;
  • Rural, small, perhaps isolated communities that would like help in developing sustainable deliberational strategies.

“We hope to interact with many Nebraskans in the three communities that become part of the study—decision-makers, stakeholders, and others—to identify opportunities or best practices for the deliberative process. In some cases, we might work directly with them to design and implement strategies and evaluate outcomes. In others, we may simply uncover and identify communications strategies that are inherent in some ongoing proecess the community or agency or organization is working on.”

The design of the study is being finalized, and details will be forthcoming as they emerge. The study is being underwritten through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

July 2013

JISC receives more than $1000 in Omaha Gives! day of giving

The Joslyn Institute’s first foray into the world of public charitable challenge giving was a success in May. JISC raised $1,087.56 from 13 different donors during the day-long Omaha Gives! challenge on May 22. Our thanks to all who donated, and to the Omaha Community Foundation, sponsor of the day of giving.

In Lincoln, EcoStores Nebraska, a program of the Joslyn Institute, also participated in a day of giving, the 2013 Give To Lincoln Day. EcoStores raised more than $430 through the call for donations. Customers who donated at least $10 were entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate. In-store customers gave $160.

May 2013

JISC to participate in Omaha Gives! day of giving on May 22

The Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities is a participant in Omaha Gives!—a 24-hour charitable challenge organized by the Omaha Community Foundation. The online day of giving will take place May 22 from midnight to midnight.

The JISC will be joining nearly 300 local nonprofits to raise money together and compete for matching funds and prize money. Omaha Gives! is a one-day event led by the Omaha Community Foundation to raise as much money as possible for local nonprofits through online fundraising. It is a community-wide event to show off Omaha’s spirit of giving, raise awareness about local nonprofits, and celebrate the collective effort it takes to make the city better. For more information, visit the website:

February 2013

JISC wins award for Best Practices from United Nations–Habitat

The Joslyn Institute’s programs in the Omaha and Lincoln corridor has been selected as a best practice by the Dubai International Award for Best Practices (DIABP), an award program jointly administered by UN-Habitat and Dubai Municipality. The cities of Omaha and Lincoln nominated JISC for its work on enhancing environmental decision-making capacity in the region.

Utilizing twin strategies of outreach and demonstration, JISC’s three primary objectives in the region include the following:

  • expand capacity to respond to regional growth/depopulation challenges through the use of information in decision making, research, and improved access and participation;
  • develop a framework to measure progress toward a sustainable condition, and;
  • expand engagement from region to state-wide, national and international audiences, training decision makers and community leaders on use of the sustainability framework for regional planning, design, and administration.

JISC has expanded its outreach from an initial regional focus to state, national, and international activities. The publication of Sustainometrics: Measuring Sustainability (2011), and its translation into the Chinese language, illustrates the transferability of this suite of tools and strategies to an international context. (See right-hand column for more information on the book.)

More than 800 civic and community leaders throughout the state of Nebraska have participated in JISC training, capacity-building, and networking. These emphasize holistic land use planning, open space conservation, regional resource planning, and urban/rural linkages.

The DIABP award was established in 1995 during the United Nations International Conference that convened in Dubai to support transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise through peer-to-peer learning and networking. Of the 350+ submissions from around the world, JISC’s is among 48 Best Practices that were shortlisted for recognition by this competitive award program. The JISC’s winning entry is detailed in the Best Practices database, Best Practices in Improving the Living Environment, along with case studies and reports, at (See also Best Practices)

October 2012

EcoStores Wins Sustainability Award

EcoStores Nebraska was named 2012 Product Stewardship Award winner at the 2012 Sustainability Summit and Sustainable Business Awards Luncheon in Lincoln. WasteCap Nebraska’s Sustainability Summit featured Auden Schendler, Aspen Skiing Company’s Vice President of Sustainability. Nebraska business leaders also spoke on such topics as Making the Green Energy Transition, Using Technology to Measure Sustainability, and Mission to Zero Waste, among others. The awards luncheon was in observance of WasteCap’s celebrating 20 years in business.

May 2012

Humanities Council Awards JISC Grant for Video Program

The Nebraska Humanities Council has awarded the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities a $6,000 grant for the production of a video program about five critical Nebraska resources: land, water, food, materials and energy. The video willl be designed to be shown on Nebraska Educational Television; on DVD to students and organizations throughout the state; and on the Joslyn Institute website for global viewing.
“By bringing public attention to vital environmental issues, we intend to broaden the general public’s knowledge of complex issues pertinent to our shared future,” said W. Cecil Steward, President and CEO of the Joslyn Institute. Download a PDF of the press release.

May 2011

Eco Products and Services Center becomes regional resource for everything “green”

The Eco Products and Services Center (EPSC), serving Lincoln, Omaha and the surrounding communities in Southeast Nebraska, is up and running, with vendors of green products and services installing informational booths, and lively educational and social networking events—Think Green It’s Thursday (TGIT)—being held every week.

EPSC provides an information center for local green products and services. The center’s main focus is products/services needed for the building/construction industry for commercial and residential retrofit and energy efficiency upgrades. Principal emphasis of the exhibit center, and the net benefit to the region will be waste reduction through the use of salvaged and recycled content in new materials, and a broad mix of green product representatives from the area will increase conveniences for consumers.

EPSC’s purpose is to provide a one-stop information solution for green products/services. The goal is to relieve consumers of the time burden involved in the research of green products and services. EPSC’s knowledgeable staff is able to provide consumers with product and construction expertise, education, clarification and assistance. Research reveals that consumers in the green product market need their own green “concierge” to personally help them navigate the research, selection and purchase of green products.

To learn more, visit the EPSC website:

September 2010

Steward, JISC named to World Urban Campaign Standing Committee

W. Cecil Steward and the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities were elected to an 11-member Standing Committee to assist in guiding the World Urban Campaign for Sustainable Cities, an initiative of the United Nations Habitat agency, in a meeting of the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is comprised of approximately 70 business, academic, and NGO partners with the UN Habitat to bring global attention and opportunities to cities around the world for enhancing the quality of urban dweller lives and to assist the cities with progress toward conditions of sustainability.

May 12, 2010

Joslyn Institute to Host Meeting of the Minds 2010

Omaha—There is still time to register for the world’s premier summit on sustainable cities. Host to the Meeting of the Minds 2010 leadership summit, Omaha will provide a unique context for an unusual gathering of political, business and nonprofit sector leaders convening to discuss innovative approaches to sustainability in our cities and communities.

The Meeting of the Minds 2010 leadership summit, “Connecting the Dots: The Innovations We Need for Sustainable Cities” will be held on June 16-18, 2010 in Omaha, providing participants an opportunity to devise better formulas for small and large cities. The two-and-a-half day meeting will incubate strategies for a sustainable future based on new principles for economic, environmental and social development.

To promote this “rethink” of urban and regional development, Urban Age Institute and Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities join forces with global partners to convene the 2010 Meeting of the Minds. Toyota, Siemens AG, Cemex, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Urban Land Institute, Jones Lang LaSalle, Gallup, United Nation’s Habitat and Global Compact Cities Programmes, Regional Plan Association and Metropolis are among the summit’s many esteemed partners. The summit will connect approximately 150 municipal and national government leaders with private sector and design professionals throughout the many informational and networking opportunities.

Meeting of the Minds 2010’s opening sessions will feature lessons learned from four cities—two American cities and two cities in the Netherlands—grappling with sustainable urban development. Charles Rutheiser, Senior Fellow in the Anne E. Casey Foundation’s Civic Sites and Initiatives Unit, and Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), will present on the experiences of Baltimore and San Francisco, respectively. Saskia Ruijsink, Specialist in Urban and Regional Management at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) will introduce a new short film detailing how Rotterdam and Delft are dealing with climate change.

Zerofootprint Foundation’s CEO Ron Dembo will showcase the Re-Skinning Awards’ winning projects. Each winner demonstrates innovative retrofitting technologies and systems ready to be applied in today’s market, each one featuring replicable solutions designed to enhance the efficiency and livability of the world’s existing housing stock.

Sustainability coordinators from the largest cities in the Midwest will lead two break-out sessions on sustainability at the city level, one concentrating on integrating sustainability into the comprehensive plan and the latter on the energy-efficiency imperative. A third session will feature Living Labs, moderated by Neal Peirce, Chairman of Citistates, and lastly, Barbara Hewson, Chief of the Urban Finance Branch of the United Nations Habitat Programme, will lead a program on global financing for affordable and social housing.

In conjunction with the first Regional Energy Innovation Summit, also convening on June 16 in Omaha, a special evening program will intermingle the guests of the White House Office of Social Innovation and the Kauffman Foundation with leaders from this Meeting of the Minds. Howard Buffett, White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Policy Advisor, will share findings from the Energy Innovation Summit at the close of Thursday’s session.

For more information visit

May 12, 2010

Joslyn Institute Among 2010 NETF Award Recipients

JISC is the recipient of 2010 NETF funding to continue the thinking behind the success of the 2008-2010 Nebraska Sustainability Leadership Workshops. As early as October, JISC will begin convening the first of four regional Conversations Conferences on Nebraska Environment and Sustainability Issues.

August 10, 2009

Entire Houses Are Being Recycled and Reused

LINCOLN— Board by board and brick by brick, EcoStores Deconstruction is removing several buildings in the Antelope Valley project area. Organized by the non-profit Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities (JISC), EcoStores Deconstruction is disassembling the structures by hand in the reverse order of how they were built. This process allows the crew to salvage all usable materials while greatly decreasing the amount of construction waste sent to the landfill. According to Steve Liechti, EcoStores Deconstruction Manager, “about 40 percent of everything in a landfill is from buildings.”

(The Lincoln Journal-Star has run an article on the program. Click here to read it.)

Assisting with the deconstruction is a crew from Summer Works, an employment program for low-income youth ages 14–24. The crew is acquiring marketable construction skills as well as full-time summer employment. Liechti adds that in addition to training youth, deconstruction projects put dollars back into the economy through payrolls, support services, contracts and equipment rentals.

The first house in the project, located at 2345 Q Street in Lincoln, has now been deconstructed by the crew. Liechti states, “At least 60% of the materials from that house are reusable.” The next structure to come down will be 216 N. 23rd Street, followed by 2315 Q Street, and finally the apartment building located at 2325 Q Street. Also included in the deconstruction project are garages associated with the homes.

Salvaged materials from the structures are being taken to EcoStores Nebraska, located at 530 W. P Street, to be resold. EcoStores Nebraska is a retail warehouse devoted to selling second-use building, construction, and remodeling material, thus keeping good usable items out of the landfill and the larger waste stream. The store is stocked with materials from deconstruction projects as well as donations. These items are sold to landlords, do-it-yourselfers, bargain hunters and low-income homeowners at greatly discounted prices.

In operation for five years, EcoStores Nebraska has put over $100,000 a year back into the economy through these types of deconstruction projects. Remarkably, since 2004, 315 tons of materials have been diverted from landfills.

(Photo documentation of the 2345 Q Street deconstruction is available at

Blighted houses and commercial structures are a growing issue in Nebraska communities. The costs to demolish them and then dump the wreckage in a landfill are prohibitively high. In addition, landfills have an inordinate amount of building materials in them, materials that could be recycled and reused. The idea behind the EcoStores Deconstruction project is six-fold: to keep these materials out of the general waste stream, to save money, to teach young people how to deconstruct (and so, how to construct) a building, to provide jobs for young people, to recycle good building materials and architectural elements, and to provide a salvage business (in this case, EcoStores Nebraska) with an income stream.