By: Dominique Rossi
Wednesday evening, the Whiteaker Sustainability Council gathered to set the year’s agenda. The council discussed numerous environmental and societal concerns, but focused on bike-friendly matters and creating more food independence within the neighborhood.
Whit residents would like to see Blair Boulevard transformed. The street receives a heavy amount of car traffic and some community members have suggested making Blair a bike-only road.Vice Chair Anand Keathley, a compost specialist who seeks to prepare the Whit for what he suggests is an imminent peak oil crisis, believes that a bike-only Blair would not fair well with the city. Instead Keathley advises “improving access for active transportation and limiting car access” by means of speed bumps or a stop light at the intersection of 4th and Blair.
The sustainability council also voted yes on the proposed “Orchard Project”. The Orchard Project is part of the large goal to expand community gardens in the neighborhood and ultimately to create a local, free food network for the residential poor. Various plots of unused land were suggested, many of which currently belong to the city and thus would require the city’s approval and most-likely surveying. Cyclist Brad Foster recommended that the council do the surveying instead of the city in hopes of moving the project along swiftly. As Foster put it, a council ran survey would truly “give people a chance to be heard”. Alongside city approval, the Orchard Project currently has many other roadblocks including resolving the debate over fencing and delegating maintenance. Some members advocated for setting up the orchard so that local organizations could sponsor and care for specific plots, but consensus was not reached on this idea.
The Whiteaker Sustainability Council also has a few other plans in mind such as building rain catchment systems. Keathley also intends to grow genetic dwarf fruit trees in the current garden spaces. Genetic dwarf trees are particularly appealing because they produce nutritious food, but are small enough to be easily managed. To get involved with these projects, drop by The Whiteaker Sustainability Council meetings on the third Wednesday of every month held at the community center building on the corner of Clark and N. Jackson.