Alan Durning: Biography

Alan Durning founded Sightline Institute in 1993. He contributed significantly to Sightline’s effort to create a new regional index of progress, the Cascadia Scorecard, and has led many of the organization’s other successes.

Alan has authored or coauthored more than ten Sightline books, includingThis Place on Earth 2002: Measuring What Matters;This Place on Earth 2001: Guide to a Sustainable Northwest; This Place on Earth: Home and the Practice of Permanence (winner of the Governor’s Writers Award in 1996); The Car and the City; and Tax Shift. His current topics of focus include democracy reform and housing affordability, the latter of which resulted in the 2013 publication of Sightline’s first e-book, Unlocking Home: Three Keys to Affordable Communities. He has also written about making sustainability legal, parking reform,car-free living, bike-friendliness, electric bikes, and climate fairness. 

Prior to founding Sightline Institute, Alan was a senior researcher at Worldwatch Institute in Washington, DC, where he studied the relationships between social and environmental issues. While at Worldwatch, Durning wrote How Much is Enough?The Consumer Society and the Future of the Earth(1992), which won two awards and was translated into seven languages. He also coauthored seven State of the World reports with Worldwatch Papers, on topics ranging from animal agriculture to indigenous peoples. 

Alan’s articles have been published in over 100 periodicals, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, International Herald Tribune, Foreign Policy, Sierra, Utne Reader, and Technology Review. He publishes regularly in the Northwest press. 

A sought-after keynote speaker, Alan has lectured at the White House, major universities, and numerous conferences. He consults with Northwest leaders on a variety of issues. 

Alan holds a Bachelor of Arts with high honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from Oberlin College, and a Bachelor of Music, Pi Kappa Lambda, from the Oberlin Conservatory. He also holds a certificate in nonprofit leadership from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. 

In addition to his passion for sustainability, Alan is a music fiend and a lover of outdoor pursuits, especially mountaineering and cycling. He lives in Seattle and has three children.