Thursday, January 14, 2010

Towns as GREEN Communities

I drive through a lot of towns while out showing houses, but it's more than just driving by. I'm always keeping my eyes open and trying to get a feel for neighborhoods, amenities, and of course stopping to try the local coffee or ice cream shops.

Last week I found myself scouting Wethersfield. I always thought I knew Wethersfield, having lived about a mile from it for more than 12 years. I know where to get the good pizza, the best playgrounds, Old Wethersfield and the Cove. I've been to a wedding at the barn (cheers to the happy couple - Nicole & Rodney all these years later!)
Last year I discovered the town was developing a GREEN vibe when the townspeople voted to conserve the large tract of farmland known as the Wilkus Farm.

(Pictured: The Web Barn)

What I didn't know was that the town had the foresight to have a Shade Tree Commission. Isn't that wonderful? Separately, in celebration of Wethersfield's 375th anniversary in 2009, the town was planting 375 trees! (I was in my car in Wethersfield with my kids, completely terrified, at the moment the tornado hit in June and saw how many trees were destroyed, so the planting came at a good time.) The coup de grace for me was that the town has a comprehensive Energy Plan. (I know, I know, the things that get me excited...)

The thing that caught my eye last week though, was the billboard for the Conservation Challenge GREEN Summit III. I had to look it up just as soon as I got back to the office.

The challenge begins March 1st and runs until May 31st. Residents, business owners or facility managers participating must attend 1 of 2 educational forums that outline the program. The challenge is open not only to residents, but also to educational and municipal facilities, commercial and industrial businesses, and faith congregations. Those participating will agree to have their water and electric usage monitored during the time period and the first 500 registered will receive a conservation kit of energy-saving goodies, PLUS 2 rain barrels! Nice, right? So on top of saving energy and helping the environment, these people will be saving MONEY. Wouldn't it be fun to see exactly how much we could save in 3 months by doing the same? I tell you, Wethersfield has got it going on!

GREEN Summit III is the follow up to Summits I & II, which laid the foundation for the greening of this community. The first event brought together residents to discuss strategies for making Wethersfield GREEN. The second was a huge energy fair with workshops, exhibits, & panel discussions.
To my Wethersfield friends and readers, there were 165 registered participants when I looked into this...there's still time to register and attend the informational forum on February 11th from 7-9pm at the Council Chambers of Town Hall. For anyone who does participate, I'd love to hear how it goes!

The more I learn, the more Wethersfield climbs up my coolness meter. Where many towns (like mine) have dabbled in making changes (and I don't mean that as a slight - I understand it's a big task) Wethersfield continues it's efforts in a well-planned campaign, bringing together the various environmental groups in town, and slowly making a reality of becoming a GREEN community. Kudos to Wethersfield for it's innovation, leadership, and for setting a GREEN example!

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