HEALING THE WATERS INITIATIVE GAINS STEAM

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Debra Szekeley, at the 2002 ISPA conference, challenged the spa industry to "Green" itself. That challenge was taken by Loma Alexander, and "Healing the Waters" was formed to deliver on that promise.

Healing the Waters was chosen as a context for putting forth the challenge to other members of the spa industry to take on sustainable practices in their businesses. It is also a call to return to source. The spa industry began in ancient times around the healing waters in the world. As an industry we are bound to nature by our very definition, "Sanitas per Aqua."

The industry as a whole has taken on many expressions, leaving its' origin behind. A spa has become a place where water is not the focus of the business. These expressions have wandered away from the connection with the natural world and many have been created in wholly artificial environments. The further away from we go from nature the more negative impact we have on it. This trend is not sustainable and robs our clients of the healing properties inherent in nature, thus reducing their viability and health.

Healing the Waters is a sourced conversation for bringing sustainable practices into the spa industry. This conversation is being generated through educational programs, advocacy within the industry, conferences, websites, articles in industry publications, consultancy, personal demonstration, creating access to resources, and networking.

What is a sourced conversation? It is a context that holds the purpose, promise, direction, and realization of itself within the existing cultural milieu. It holds all action true to it's purpose. It allows for promises and requests to be generated. It keeps all projects on course. It invites others to participate and generate. It calls forth commitment.

What is sustainability? The term was defined by the United Nations Development Program as, living in such a way that the needs of our generation and generations to come can be met. It has three aspects, planet, people and profits.

Planet is the physical environment and all of the resources used by life. It is the biosphere where all life exists, the minerals in the earth used by life and as resources by humans. It is the waters of the world in which most life on earth exists. It is the atmosphere, literally the air we breathe.

People are at the heart of sustainability, for we realize that the impact that we have on the planet has been reducing the carrying capacity for life to exist. We are also the ones creating businesses and the employees of those businesses. We are also the communities within which each business exists. We are the clientele that use the products and services produced and the ones supplying products and services for each business to function and fulfill its' purpose. We are the problem and the solution.

Profits are the positive flow of excess generated by a business over and above the cost of doing business. A business must be profitable to be sustainable.

Sustainability is the dynamic balance between these three aspects. At the ISPA conference in 2003, the Greening the Industry presentation expanded the definition of Green to mean sustainable.

Healing the Waters is a committed group of spa industry volunteers dedicated to bringing about sustainable change within the industry. We are spa owners, developers, consultants, managers, writers, suppliers, and users.

Our initial service has been to engage the industry in this conversation. We have made presentations to the ISPA board of directors and conference attendees. We have written articles, conducted surveys, lobbied, created websites, and gathered information and resources.

Our goals are:

1. To continue working with the ISPA taskforce to generate the conversation within that organization.
2. To get more articles published in industry magazines.
3. To create a website that links spa industry businesses to the resources, information, products and services they can use to grow into sustainability.
4. To demonstrate sustainable practices through our businesses.
5. To create a speakers bureau for our members to carry the sustainable spa conversation into other organizations and businesses.
6. To support our members to become authorities in sustainability and market their skills to the industry.
7. To create standards for the industry.

Company growth will initially be financed through grants, donations and membership dues. As the website is developed money will be generated through advertisement and co-sponsorships. We are currently a non-profit organization working in conjunction with Sustainable Marin.

Brundtland Commission
The commission was formed after an urgent call from the UN General Assembly and was asked to take an in-depth look at the planet's people and its resources. Developing long-term strategies for achieving sustainable development, find ways of cooperation between nations, and consider ways the international community can deal more effectively with environmental issues were among the Commission's tasks.

Sustainable Marin
The Marin County Sustainability Team is housed in the Community Development Agency's Planning Department. Our goal is to work with others to develop policies and programs that will help make the County of Marin healthy, vibrant and sustainable for many generations into the future. Our work reflects the County's mission to provide excellent services that support healthy, safe and sustainable communities.

For more information on the Healing the Waters project, please email Larry Dean at larrydean214@earthlink.net. SpaTrade is currently developing the Healing the Waters web site.