Sunday, January 6, 2008

Excellent Comments from Derek

1. I would recommend we replace the word 'green' with some more tangible descriptor and that we set a more tangible goal than being the greenest city in the U.S. Here's why:
a. The word 'green,' may be very unattractive to potential partners in this venture since it may carry hippie or liberal connotations, whereas 'sustainable,' or even issue-specific terms like 'water-wise' may be less ideological-sounding to people whom we would want to become involved.
b. Striving to be the greenest in the nation means that our goal will change if other cities in the nation change. Instead of referencing our goal to other cities, we should reference our goal to the tangible needs of our city.
c. By stating specific, measurable goals, we may make it easier to determine whether we are succeeding.

2. I think we should examine various specific environmental issues that we might want to address and ask for each issue, "What are the most effective geographical and civic levels from which to address this issue?" For example, reintroducing timber wolves to southern Wisconsin is an issue that would require participation on the parts of dozens of other communities and jurisdictions; we probably don't want to make that one of our key issues if our focus is to be on Port Washington. At the other extreme, getting the garbage picked up on time at my house is probably a little too narrow of an issue for a Port Washington-focused initiative, since it deals with only one household. We want to find the issues that are between those two extremes -- the issues that can actually be impacted at the civic level of a city. This doesn't mean that we pick only issues that impact only Port Washington. Obviously, we will hope to serve as a model for other communities so that the movement can take hold throughout Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, the Midwest, the Great Lakes, the United States, and the World. But we have to start where we are and ask what we, here, can tackle.

3. I would suggest the following as some issues that we could focus on and some examples of tangible goals:
a. Water quality -- Port Washington as at the bottom of a small watershed of the Sauk Creek, and the water that flows through our community carries excess sediments, nutrients, and toxins to Lake Michigan. We could set a goal to reduce our city's pollutants so that the water quality where Sauk Creek enters the Lake is as clean as the water that enters Port in Sauk Creek and other small waterways. By stating this as a goal, we could focus on the causes within our city limits -- our yards, our streets, etc. Of course, if we want to set a goal to make the water entering the Lake absolutely clean, then we have to address the whole Sauk Creek watershed, which extends, I think, into Sheboygan County. An initiative to get rain gardens, rain barrels, restored and created wetlands, and other technologies used in our city would be tangible and, I think, very popular with the press, funders, and the public.
b. Food -- This issue connects everything. If we ate better as a society, and as a city, our economies would be healthier, our nation would be more secure, and our water would be cleaner. Reachable goals might include establishing community gardens, getting the school to serve locally-produced foods in the lunch program, and striking up relationships with farmers in the area, we would reduce the distance food travels to our plates (an energy and climate issue), strengthen the job security of everyone who is involved in producing, marketing, and preparing the food (an economic issue), create incentives for area farmers to try different crops (economic and ecological issues), and get people to start to think about the food they eat (public health issues). This seems to me like a potential issue for us as a city to address.
c. Open space and recreation -- Here's an issue that a city can address relatively independently of what surrounding communities do or don't do. Port Washington could make it a priority to create a community in which a child can get all over town safely on a bicycle. This would result in setting aside lots of open space, restoring ecological communities, and creating incentives for people to lead more healthy lifestyles.

4. Finally, we should ask as we go how our actions can be channeled into and bolstered by more regional initiatives. For example, there are many large initiatives attempting to improve the ecology of the Great Lakes. There are groups offering technical and financial support for Great Lakes-focus activities. We should learn from them, since there are many things that have been tried by other people, some of which have succeeded and some of which have failed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Play the Planet Green Game

In collaboration with Global Green USA, Starbucks has created Planet Green Game to educate people about climate change. Learn how you can be part of the solution by playing Planet Green Game.

Here's another one called Consumer Consequences

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Getting our Mayor on Board and Energy Block Grants

My daughter forwarded this site that she found on the StarBucks homepage (company she works for). You've got to see this. This is a tool, model and guideline to help us work with our city council and mayor to initiate the "green" in PW. It is an inspiration to our vision. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Most Toxic Cities in America

Read will surprise you.

Our Vision, Implementation, and Benefits

The Vision
Our vision is to transform Port Washington (PW), Wisconsin into the “greenest” city in the United States by:
• Working with community groups, municipalities, state government and business entities to establish and promote “green” practices
• Provide assistance with the implementation of LEED /UD standards for the renovation of existing and new building
Provide technical assistance to businesses
• Develop a rigorous educational/incentive program to promote the benefits of an environmental/sustainable community that encourages a cooperation/collaboration towards the health and well-being of individuals and the environment
• Enhance current recycling efforts to include the development of innovative methods of collecting and managing
• Create alternative public transportation opportunities to accommodate a “vehicle sharing program” of hybrid/biodiesel/electric vehicles, mopeds, or trolley/bus
• Provide an infrastructure of transportation and access to community services/businesses and employment that promotes walking and/or biking
• Support our fishing/marina economy in embracing eco-friendly practices
• Establish incentives to encourage public and private properties to embrace the use of storm drainage systems, porous surfaces, solar power and other renewable energy sources
• Encourage the development of community gardens, green spaces, and local agriculture
• Reform our established educational systems to embrace and integrate “green”/sustainable practices in administration and curriculum while giving an opportunity for innovative and collaborative academic/community services to include edible gardens, critical thinking cohorts, community art, and volunteerism

• Create an advisory board that embraces the diverse interests of the community involved in the reformation of PW
• Research funding/grant resources in order to become more educated through trainings/collaboration/conferences/seminars and to provide financial backing for major “green” initiatives/industry
• Create partnerships with local entities
• Establish a resource center within the city to provide support and education to private/public entities by which individuals have access to books, CD’s, web access, networking

Who Benefits
• The economy of PW will be revitalized on the basis of innovation and futuristic products and services that will create Port Washington as a “destination” while embracing its history and unique location
• Investment revenues will ultimately increase property values, and the value of current business holdings will rise
• Funders will realize a significant return on investment as “green” economies continue to grow at a rapid and sustained pace
• As PW begins receiving attention and awards for their innovative “green” practices its investment prospective will increase and attract additional capital investments
• Existing residence will enjoy increased job and innovative training opportunities within the community of Port Washington
• An abundance of new jobs will be created
• The “green” economy in Port Washington will attract a highly skilled and educated pool of human resources
• Industry, businesses and individual households will realize a decrease in energy expenditures
• By embracing “green”/sustainable practices now, PW will benefit from having an early entry into the “green” economy
• Our community will set a standard and act as a model to other communities in becoming “green”
• Ultimately, all members of the PW community regardless of age and socioeconomic status, will be given the opportunity to decrease their usage “footprint” on the environment while creating environments that promote sustainability and personal/community health/well-being

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Empty Spaces or Possiblities

I've lived in Port for 13 years and in that time I have watched a cycle of new business then in time - empty buildings. I decided to go out and document all of the empty spaces that have the possibility of becoming an integral part of making Port Washington a viable, sustainable community. When you see these locations, what kinds of ideas come to you?

Brain Storm Gathering

On Thursday October 4th, a small group of friends gathered to chat about our community. Items covered included the business climate of Port, the path of becoming a "bedroom" community, and social responsibility vs bottom line for business owners today. Brain-storming began with ideas such as creating incentives for incubator businesses and industry, moving the septic and water treatment plants and reclaimation of the space for community usage. It was suggested that with the Great Lakes in danger of toxic run off from storm water Port Washington would be a perfect location for a water research center Another thought offered was to find out if the contract for our recycleables could be changed so as to create a stream of revenue by creating a business that uses waste for revenue. We are very fortunate to currently have "green'' business in process with Carrie and Rick's gas station. We all agreed that we wanted to see PW support those who live here year round by revitalizing the fishing industry and Ports rich history through a means of revenue and art (sculptures on our sidewalks). The terms "green" and "sustainable" were tossed around and the million dollar question was asked....What does a "green" /sustainable community look like and isn't it mostly economically driven? A great question worth further investigation...

Those present were: June Eastvold, Rick and Carrie Fulop, Burt Babcock, Rhonda Greenhaw Wood and Mary Bernadette.