Grassroots Environmental Education recently launched a new web portal called, “HowGreenIsMyTown.org (HGIMT ), which is designed to provide local citizens and decision makers the tools they need to bring about meaningful and lasting environmental change in their communities. The 200-plus page online initiative draws together resources from government agencies and non-profits across America to address the issues of climate change, sustainability and environmental health in one web site.
The Green Town Challenge gives users a quick snapshot of how their town weighs in on the green scale. It addresses not only traditional environmental issues such as the recycling of “e-waste,” (computers and other electronics) but also emerging issues such as “no-idling” policies for motor vehicles at schools (green!) or the use of polystyrene cups and food containers by local businesses (definitely not green!).
“How Green is My Town?” represents the antithesis of the Kyoto Protocol – a bottom-up, grassroots effort to place an organizational structure around the needs of local communities, and empower both citizens and local decision makers to take matters into their own hands. By acting locally and in harmony, the organizers of the project believe this group can engender the changes in human behavior required to
successfully address what is arguably the greatest challenge in human history.
HGIMT leverages the power of the internet against the traditional difficulties of grassroots organization, focuses on community needs and abilities rather than top-down agendas, enables emerging markets and delivers a cohesive and coherent solution by linking individuals and decision makers with all the pieces of the puzzle.
HowGreenIsMyTown.org is a multi-faceted program:
Toolbox: Ready-to-go policy solutions, program ideas and links to the most innovative, cost-effective and award-winning solutions from non-profits and government agencies that have found their “piece of the puzzle.” Click here to view the Master Criteria List.
Gallery of Downloadable Advocacy Posters: The eight colorful advocacy posters included on the site are designed to help bolster the efforts of local environmental groups working on issues such as pesticides, water conservation, tree conservation, alternative energy and waste
stream reduction. The posters are available for immediate download and printing; all are available with empty space for local groups to include their own logo.
Checklist: 142 key attributes include separate criteria for local governments, school systems and business communities.
Green Links Buyers’ Guide: Unique “Green Links” contain hundreds of carefully screened companies offering truly green solutions and designed to help communities avoid using greenwashed products.
Green Rating System: Using the program’s extensive criteria, colleges and universities across the country are partnering with Grassroots to evaluate the towns in their counties.
They have divided each town into three sectors
My Local Government, My School System and My Business Community. Within each major category are topics of concern, ranging from energy to transportation, from procurement to recycling, from green building to green cleaning. On the web site, iconic graphics and hundreds of photographs punctuate the pages, and straightforward site navigation tools keep visitors oriented. Where necessary, we provide scientific data, key statistics or other environmental or health information for context, and then it’s on to the best policies, practices and programs.•
Topics addressed include: a comprehensive policy, energy use, green procurement, green cleaning, sustainable building development, land management, water, conservation, transportation, recycling, environmental toxins, communications,grounds maintenance,addressing environmental issues, energy use, environmental contamination, building practices, and buying locally.
“We’re bringing people, places and the green economy together in a way that’s really never been done before,” “You can’t fully consider the issue of climate change without quickly realizing that the burning of fossil fuels also plays a role in the growing rates of chronic disease in people, or that the petrochemicals used to kill weeds or get clothes clean are also contaminating our water, poisoning our wildlife and adding to the cancer risk in humans,” says Patti Wood, Executive Director of Grassroots and co-creator of the program.
Plans for integrating Rating Programs into existing environmental studies programs at colleges and universities are currently being developed at more than a dozen institutions in several states. Participants are being asked to field teams of students to conduct research using the program’s criteria and rate the towns in their local areas. Results will be posted on the web site beginning in the late fall of 2009. A short video about the program and rating opportunities is available on the web site. There is also a newly launch rating team forum for site visitors.
© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.