Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Greencastle 'three-peats' as Green Community of the Year

The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT) recently announced that Greencastle has received its Green Community of the Year designation for the third consecutive year.

It's what we refer to around these parts as the "three-peat."

We recently blogged about our efforts on the sustainability front following the announcement that Putnam RISE, an initiative of the Greencastle Sustainability Commission, received a $100,000 grant from the Putnam County Community Foundation.

And, the IACT recognition comes on the heels of the National League of Cities' announcement that Greencastle was the 45 finalists for its 2010 Awards for Municipal Excellence, again for our sustainability efforts.

IACT launched its Green Communities initiative to help cities and towns facing budget shortfalls identify potential cost savings, as well as show how communities that operate in a sustainable way do so in a cost-effective manner. The organization asked us to fill out a 51-question survey that covered, among other things, purchasing, operations and sample projects.

While recognition from outside organizations certainly makes a difference, we can look around at the tangible improvements we've made:

- public transportation has become a reality after some 20 years of trying;
- energy-efficient retrofits for city buildings;
- decorative LED street lights in our downtown and the change out of all of our traffic signals to LED lighting;
- ordinances, policies and building codes that protect our ground water, our habitat and our future;
- a growing Farmer's Market and community garden to promote the sale and growing of local food for families and restaurants;
- a robust "Buy Local" campaign in conjunction with the Chamber that supports local businesses and saves energy;
- an expanded curb-side trash program that has stepped up recycling efforts citywide; and
- "move out" days where gently used furniture and good come to the community from DePauw students, rather than adding to the landfill.

While these are just some of the ways we've become "greener" in Greencastle, you can read more about our efforts here. At a time when communities across the state and indeed the nation, are facing a budget crunch, we are doing this at little or no cost to the taxpayers.

What do you think about this latest recognition for our city? What can we do to ensure that we make IACT's Green Communities list next year?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Raking leaves this weekend? Then read this post!

The City's Department of Public Works will kick off our annual leaf pickup next week. Check out this article in the Banner-Graphic detailing November's pickup schedule.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Putnam RISE: Taking Sustainability to the Next Level

Representatives of Putnam RISE and the Putnam County Community Foundation pause for a photo at the Putnam County Community Foundation's Envision 2011 grant presentation.

Nearly two years ago, a group of more than 100 citizens representing diverse interests got together to develop environmental solutions to strengthen our community, economy, culture and quality of life.

That gathering turned out to be the origin of the Greencastle Sustainability Commission, and since that time, this new organization has been hard at work. We've developed partnerships that have re-invigorated and expanded our Farmer's Market. We've opened pathways and connector trails throughout the city. Our community garden helps bring fresh produce to food pantries. And, along with Duke Energy, we've engaged community schools in an energy conservation challenge. These are just a few of our accomplishments, but the greatest of all, perhaps, is that we've done all of this at minimal cost to the taxpayers.

Just last week, we received news that will help take the community's sustainability efforts to the next level. The Putnam County Community Foundation awarded a $100,000 Envision 2011 grant to Putnam RISE (Renewal, Investment, Savings and Efficiency), an initiative of the Sustainability Commission. The Vectren Foundation joined in as well, providing an additional $25,000 grant.

So, what does Putnam RISE plan to accomplish?

Putnam RISE will educate the county's citizens about ways to become more energy efficient. It also will stimulate the local economy through energy efficiency investments in schools, neighborhoods and homes. In addition, the group seeks to produce double digit increases in energy consumption in Putnam County school facilities; secure energy savings through cash incentives for resource-challenged schools; obtain more than 2,000 home energy savings pledges; provide 100 residential energy audits; conduct a "Green Home Makeover" program that will select one low-income household to receive $15,000 in energy efficiency upgrades; and weatherize 21 homes.

It's a pretty ambitious agenda.

But let me share with you who's a part of Putnam RISE, and you'll understand why this initiative has the potential to become a national model for sustainability: North Putnam Community School Corporation, South Putnam Community School Corporation, Cloverdale Community School Corporation, Greencastle Community School Corporation, City of Greencastle Commission on Sustainability, Greencastle Chamber of Commerce, Greencastle Presbyterian Church, Greencastle Civic League, Shuee & Sons Great Buys Plus, The Window Place, Smiley's Heating & Air-Conditioning, and Insulation Supply Co.

Clearly, this is a long list of partners, and it gets to the heart of what sets Greencastle - and Putnam County, for that matter - apart from other communities our size. It's what I like to call the "Greencastle Effect," where we channel our energy and optimism into meaningful contributions that will ultimately impact future generations.

There's no doubt we live in tough times. But with initiatives like Putnam RISE, supporters like the Putnam County Community Foundation and Vectren, we have an opportunity before us to weather these difficult times, and move our community forward - together.

Mayor Sue Murray

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Volunteers Help Complete Trail Project

Did you catch the article in today's Banner-Graphic about the completion of our new trail? Check out our Facebook page for more behind-the-scenes photos of DePauw students and community members who helped with seeding and hay to finish the project.