What are our sister suburbs doing about sustainability?
January 2014

Lake Oswego Sustainability Network hears about Corvallis success!

We had a successful meeting on December 11th and heard from the leaders from Corvallis who have built a successful sustainabilty group with lots of results.  See their presentations: Annette Mills's Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and Dave Eckert's Water Action Team. Check out the Corvallis Sustainability Plan.

What are the seven great reasons that the Corvallis Sustainability group makes Corvallis a better place??
1.  Bringing people together for enjoyment and friendship -- people enjoy the town halls, many events, and the opportunity to show and discuss their projects with others.   People get to know and like their neighbors.  People have fun.
2.  Support for local business -- Corvallis offers "business of the month" promoting and highlighting some local businesses.  The group promotes the best kind of business owners and jobs, those that are unique to their city.
3.  Great projects -- we heard about how the "water action team" helped a local business to cut their water bill in half!  Other projects involve energy savings, beautifying the city, creating more places to walk and bike and many more.  
4.  A framework and a vision --the town worked together to create a vision for the future they want.  By knowing where they are going, members feel a sense of progress and hope.
5.  Bringing in new ideas -- the group sponsors nationally known speakers and others with new ideas to share.
6.  Increasing health -- increasing walking and biking is great for children, boomers, and all.  The Corvallis transportation action team focuses on safe and available places to be active.
7.  Reducing pollution, carbon emissions and toxic chemicals -- Through a variety of projects, the team promotes a clean and healthy Corvallis for current residents and for their children's future.

What are the neighbors doing?  Reports from our sister suburbs:

There is more change happening, right now, than we have seen in years! Citizens of our towns around the region care about the future, and are taking action. We have looked at Beaverton, Tigard, Hillsboro, West Linn and Milwaukie. All have active sustainability programs. Here is our report!

Beaverton: Beaverton has an engaged community and much leadership from Mayor Denny Doyle. The community hosted four forums in 2013 bringing global, national, statewide and local perspectives to Beaverton, created a sustainability plan and is forming action teams. You can find out more about the forums here. The city has a "citizen pledge" encouraging actions to reduce our impact on the planet and to create a thriving local community and economy. See Beaverton's iPledge.

Tigard: Tigard has two major sustainability focus areas. With the recent decision by Metro to focus the next High Capacity Transit corridor on Hwy 99W, Tigard has created a vision document called "Pacific Highway to a Sustainable Future" where they are looking at how to make the 4-1/2 miles of Hwy 99 a beautiful connector for the community. Another major project is called "Going Green" where they are transforming Main Street into a green street.

West Linn:  West Linn has had an active sustainability board since 2006. They have created a plan (Sustainable West Linn Strategic Plan) to reduce the city's carbon footprint. They have reduced energy use public buildings. Now they are engaged in a community-wide program to create a plan to develop awareness, action and new programs. They are looking at natural areas, transportation, water use, promoting local business and more. 

Milwaukie:  Milwaukie has an active community group that meets regularly. Individual members lead various initiatives. They influence city policy and work on individual projects. They have successfully supported LED streetlights, new bike lanes, restoration of natural areas, a local food co-op and more.

Hillsboro:  Hillsboro has had a very active program since 2000. Sustainability Director Peter Bramdom notes that even with a 5% increase in square footage, the city has saved $420,000 in their annual energy bills since 2005 because of energy efficiency efforts. The community-based sustainability task force meets quarterly to review actions related to community energy use, water and air quality and reducing waste. Hillsboro planners are in the vanguard with their understanding of bike lane issues. Peter noted that sustainability is a powerful driver of economic development. Many businesses have specific sustainability criteria when they look to locate in a new place, and their financiers, customers, and employees are looking for a commitment to clean air and water, waste management, carbon reduction and active transportation options.  

Hillsboro's Intermodal Transit Facility was chosen by the Sustainable Cities Institute for a Sustainability Case Study.


Suburbs face the challenge of sustainability head on

With all the progress made in our sister communities, suburban living remains a sustainability challenge. With larger houses, and more driving, suburbs are behind cities in reducing pollution and carbon emissions. Is there an opportunity for us? Suburbs are the next frontier, and new ideas, pilot projects, enthusiasm and project abound. See this article for a discussion of suburbs.   If you read to the end, see a special shout out for how Portland-area suburbs are doing things right!

Calendar of upcoming events

What:  Next meeting of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network -- focused on action!
When:  March 12, 2014
Time:  5:30 PM to 8:00 PM (Actual program starts at 6:00 PM. Come early to network and have some snacks!)
Where: Holy Names Heritage Center on the Mary's Woods campus, 17425 Holy Names Dr, Lake Oswego, OR 97034

Special note:   We will plan on talking about action in Lake Oswego with discusions of specific goals, action teams and projects!


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