The Sustainable Systems Research Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit green think tank based in Santa Cruz, California. SSRF seeks to address complex and wicked environmental and sustainability problems that confound communities, defy singular technical or social solutions and cannot be addressed successfully at a global scale. We design, develop and deploy local projects and programs to promote community development through citizen science and engineering and participatory action approaches. We design and pursue projects that are local, replicable and scalable, based on best practices and insights drawn from successful projects. We seek to bring together numerous stakeholders with competing interests, capacities and approaches. We believe that if a project or program can be implemented successfully at one site, it can be replicated in other places, with appropriate adjustments to local conditions.
SSRF was founded in 2015 by Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Kevin W. Bell and Thomas Rettenwender. All three were instructors in the Sustainability Studies minor at UC Santa Cruz’s Rachel Carson College, and all three wanted to pursue local projects that seemed unlikely to be developed by the University. A small, independent non-profit appeared to be a more feasible and attractive vehicle for these projects. SSRF did not really get off the ground until Spring 2019, when several UCSC students began to push the founders to activate the organization. Since then, SSRF staff, volunteers and interns have been working on the projects described in detail elsewhere on this website. You can learn more about the founders, staff and volunteers, who make the organization function, on the “People” page.