Hello. My name is Mark and I’m a recovering journalist. In my first career life, I was a copy editor and page designer for a daily newspaper. My working ethos was enriched with the idea that our society needs to have checks and balances. We have institutions, such as news media, that are designed to question. And through that questioning, there is accountability that helps keep in balance the manifestations of greed and corruption in our societies.
I know. A lofty ideal.
Since my newspaper days, I have worked as a graphic designer and print production manager. I have seen major trends in the print industry. I have seen the embracing of soy-based inks, the advent of certifying organizations to ensure ethical sourcing of paper products (Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance), the push for increased post-consumer content in paper stock, and the shift in technology utilizing UV inks on conventional and large-format printers. It is interesting to observe the motivations of print consumers and printing companies for embracing these technologies. All too often profit is the dominant force in whether these technologies are embraced with little or no regard for nature or social needs.
Looking at some of the models of sustainability it is clear to see how your perspective dictates the way you define sustainability. You can see some of those definitions, and perhaps perspectives, in Samual Mann’s blog post containing different visual models of sustainability. For example, the Mickey Mouse model suggest the importance of the economy and profit. This might be embraced by a business owner or someone that devalues nature and social needs over making money. In contrast, the three-legged stool model might be embraced by someone who sees the need to look at the economy, social issues, and the environment together as a system to ensure they are working together as they all play a role in supporting sustainability.
My initial conclusion after dipping my toe into the pool of answers to questions like, “what is sustainability?” is that a designer plays a critical role in developing and maintaining the “Ecosystem of Stakeholders.” According to Nathan Shedroff, by embracing a systems perspective we need to be aware of the greater pool of stakeholders when we are developing successful and sustainable solutions. In his words, “More enlightened approaches to business include other groups, such as employees and customers. The most effective organizations, however, have learned to consider input, needs, and cooperation with suppliers, distributors, retailers, and other business partners throughout the supply chain.” 
In my work through this course and in the Sustainable Design program, I hope to develop skills to bring this group of stakeholders together in order to develop more sustainable solutions for design. Not just because profit demands it. Moreover, this process of bringing together stakeholders and diverse interests is about finding a balance. The results are hopefully better design solutions that take into account a complete picture of the impact of design solutions. They might even result in solutions that last longer because they take into account a wider base of considerations.
By thinking about some of these big questions, I think I have found a way to weave my journalistic ideals into being a designer. Just like journalists have a responsibility to serve their communities and act as watchdogs, designers have a key role in playing catalysts for pushing sustainability in our industries. I believe that the pursuit of sustainability needs to be a pervasive ethos for all designers. That’s why I am on this journey.
 Shedroff, Nathan. 2009. Design Is the Problem: The Future of Design Must Be Sustainable. Brooklynj, New York: Louis Rosenfeld.