Northwest Earth Institute
|Founder(s)||Jeanne Roy and Dick Roy|
|Key people||Mike Mercer (Executive Director)|
|Motto||Inspiring People to Take Responsibility for Earth|
The Northwest Earth Institute is a nonprofit organization in Portland, Oregon, with the intention of "inspiring people to take responsibility for Earth."  Northwest Earth Institute was started in 1993 by native Oregonians Jeanne and Dick Roy and currently develops and implements programs designed to motivate individuals and organizations to take action toward a sustainable future. Their most successful program is a series of ten self-facilitated discussion courses to be used by small groups that address various topics related to the environment and sustainable living.
Northwest Earth Institute was founded in 1993 by native Oregonians Dick and Jeanne Roy with $45,000 in start-up grants and thirteen volunteers with the goal of "taking earth-centered programs into mainstream workplaces.". Prior to Northwest Earth Institute, Dick had worked as a corporate lawyer since 1970 and Jeanne as an activist on air quality and solid waste issues. In 1993, Dick resigned his job as a lawyer to volunteer full-time with Jeanne.
Deep Ecology was the first implemented program and included a discussion course and manual on the topic of deep ecology. 97 discussion groups formed in the Portland area by the end of the first year.
A team of Northwest Earth Institute volunteers developed a discussion course on Voluntary Simplicity in 1994 to reach audiences beyond workplaces and the Portland area. Discussion courses expanded into higher education and community organizations in and outside of the Portland area. The institute also started offering a Home Eco-Party Program and the Oregon High School Earth Club Program. The Northwest Earth Institute discontinued the Earth Club Program due to lack of funding. As of July 2013, over 140,000 people have participated in NWEI discussion courses throughout North America. Sister Earth Institutes formed throughout North America since 1997, and there are currently 28 affiliate organizations throughout the United States and Canada.
Northwest Earth Institute discussion courses are used in higher education, workplaces, centers of faith, and community groups. Currently, the Northwest Earth Institute publishes ten different discussion courses. The newest course is 'Just Below the Surface,' a one-session discussion course formulated in response to the 2012 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf Coast.The discussion courses are:
- Change by Degrees: Addressing the Climate Challenge
- Just Below the Surface: Perspectives on the Gulf Oil Spill
- Choices for Sustainable Living
- Menu for the Future
- Voluntary Simplicity
- Discovering a Sense of Place
- Reconnecting with Earth
- Sustainable Systems at Work
- Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics, and Sustainability
- A World of Health: Connecting People, Place, and Planet
Partners and affiliated organizations
- Arkansas Earth Institute
- Be the Change Alliance
- Canadian Earth Institute
- Catamount Earth Institute
- The Cloud Institute for Sustainability
- Colorado Mountain College
- Corvallis Sustainability Coalition
- Coulee Partners for Sustainability
- Earth Institute of West Michigan
- Garden State Earth Institute
- Global Awareness Local Action (Granite Earth Institute)
- Great Lakes Earth Institute
- Illinois Green Economy Network
- Jefferson County Earth Institute
- Local Action Network
- North American Council for Staff, Program, and Organizational Development (NCSPOD)
- Northern Virginia Simplicity Matters Earth Institute
- Rocky Mountain Earth Institute
- Simplicity Matters Earth Institute
- Simply Living
- South Durham Green Neighbors
- Sustain Vanderbilt University
- Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE)
- Utah Society for Environmental Engineers
- Western North Carolina Alliance
Every October, NWEI challenges people across the world to choose one action to reduce their environmental impact and stick with it for two weeks. Individuals and teams choose a category—water, trash, energy, food or transportation—and set a goal that stretches their comfort zone and makes a difference for themselves and the planet.
In 2009, the Northwest Earth Institute held its inaugural EcoChallenge, and the event has grown since then. The EcoChallenge is open to people from around the world who would like to make a commitment to living more sustainably. Its mission is to help people to connect with their communities and take action, together. NWEI encourages friendly competition between teams to foster camaraderie and make sustainable lifestyle changes more social and more fun. Participants have the option to add to their challenge by signing up as an EcoChallenge fundraiser to collect pledges and raise money to support NWEI’s efforts to engage new people and communities that foster lasting change.
Starting in 2013, EcoChallengers accrue points for engagement, adding to the incentive for student and workplace teams, in particular, to compete for prizes and bragging rights. The EcoChallenge has garnered recent attention most notably in higher education, as university professors have increasingly incorporated the event into their curricula. And corporations, such as Ecova’s EcoChallenge team, have grown their involvement to over 250 employees. Overall, the 2013 EcoChallenge saw a 100% jump in participation from the previous year, resulting in over 2,300 participants and 166 teams made up of corporations, universities, K-12 schools, City and Government, nonprofit, community and family teams.
- Greene, Stephen G. "Learning to Make Do with Less." The Chronicle of Philanthropy XII.22 (2000): 1+.