Local Neighborhood Goes Green

Monthly meeting targets the challenge to become a more sustainable community.

By: Steven D. Vail

A neighborhood association of Eugene, Ore., organizes to improve the community’s sustainability in an effort to go green.

Jefferson Westside Neighbors association will meet May 12 at the First United Methodist Church on Olive St. to discuss tangible ways to improve local sustainability. Representatives from all 19 of Eugene’s neighborhoods recently attended the Neighborhood Leaders Council summit in part to discuss changes the city needs in order to be sustainable.

Elected JWN chair Della Perry says the JWN association’s focus is on livability and community. She asserts that increasing density of the neighborhood district is not a problem as long as livability is not compromised.

The meeting is open to the public and is advertised on postcards and online. The proposed topics for discussion are public gardens, the sharing of tools and facilities, how to build a chicken coup, and the possibility of starting co-ops — community owned markets that promote local grown foods.

In the past Perry recalls moments of conflict for garden growers and solar panel owners whose source of light was going to be cut off by newly built apartments or added stories to homes. JWN is a tool for the community to effectively communicate through conflict. The association works to balance the rights of citizens in matters of industrialization, property, and road systems.

Eugene already houses many public gardens including the Lincoln Garden and Matthews Garden. Sustainability also means making sure everyone has food to eat. Food security, the practice of improving food stock for the future, is a newly flamed enterprise for JWN.

Perry explains how the homeless can benefit from recycling. She separates her trash regularly, collecting usable goods and leaving them next to the trash for the homeless to use. Recycling is very important to Perry as well as abstaining from wasteful practices. Perry says most JWN events include a place to collect donated food for the homeless of Lane County.

Corinne Engelbert, a local babysitter and student, explains the changes she and her family have made in efforts to join the community in going green. Her family has installed solar panels, and has focused on abstaining from unnecessary plastics. “We try to always reuse what we can,” Engelbert states.

While Engelbert does not attend JWN meetings, her father is involved in the finance sector of the Eugene Education Fund. Engelbert says her family is active in the small ways of sustainability.

Perry reflects on the book Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam referring to social tendencies of a community in hard economical times. The book suggests that when there is struggle in a community, the people of that community tend to unify and come together in various activities. Looking ahead to the next JWN meeting, Perry is excited to see how this may apply to a more sustainable community in the current economic downfall.

Paul Conti, local software engineer, has become heavily involved with the JWN association. He has developed a study spread to encourage a rational city growth that stimulates compatibility throughout neighborhood development. Perry explains Conti’s work with JWN to have a resolving method of decision making that abides to the association’s rules. While Perry explains there are always exceptions to the rules, Conti’s study works well to stimulate livability.

The JWN district has developed community parks, efficient street systems including planted trees and plants along the roadside, as well as shared gardens and public activities. Perry hopes to continue the great success of the JWN association by inspiring the district to become a more sustainable neighborhood.

JWN’s next public meeting will be held May 12 at the First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St., in the evening from 7 to 9.  Topics of going green and community sustainability will be discussed and organized. For further information visit http://www.jwneugene.org or call Rene Kane at (541) 343 – 4309.

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