Earth In Mind


Airdate: July 18, 2018

Shannon Binns is the founder and executive director of Sustain Charlotte, a nonprofit organization helping to advance the long-term social, economic, and environmental health of the Charlotte region.  Prior to launching Sustain Charlotte in 2010, Shannon worked at The Nature Conservancy in Washington, DC where he was part of their climate change science and policy team. He has also served as an agroforestry volunteer with the Peace Corps in Senegal, helped found a tsunami relief organization in Thailand, and served communities across the Northeast US as a member of AmeriCorps. In the private sector, Shannon has worked as an industrial engineer for Motorola, General Motors, and Trane. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University. 

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in sustainability and smart growth, and a life of humanitarian work and service.  


  • Shannon explains the mission and work of Sustain Charlotte and what sustainability means to him.

  • He addresses whether an unregulated free market is the best mechanism for addressing present and future needs.

  • He discusses smart growth, the costs and benefits of new modes of travel, and the symbolism of becoming a low-carbon city.

  • Shannon reveals what's on his mind as a leader of an organization.

  • He describes his childhood in Iowa, the irony of his family business, and a teenage trait he still has to this day.

  • Shannon details his humanitarian work after college and managing the work emotionally.

  • He shares a period of depression and what brought hope and optimism back to his life.

  • Shannon talks about his wife and daughter, the values he carries in his wallet and what he wants his life to be about.

plus Mark's Personal Word Essay: Lucky Ones

To Learn More About Shannon


  • What struck you about Shannon's comments?

  • What does sustainability mean to you?

  • What book has influenced you the most?

  • What brings you hope and optimism?

We invite your posts on our Facebook page.

This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts. 

Further support is provided by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of America’s leading urban public libraries, delivering exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community. 

And by the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's resource hub and lead advocate for the regional cultural community, providing Culture for All.

Additional support is provided by the UNC College of Arts + Architecture, celebrating a decade of creative education in the arts and design.