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City gives green light on sustainability

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Over a sustainable breakfast, city and county community leaders gathered to promote sustainability in the Lake Oswego area last Thursday at the West End Building.

'We will be moving ahead using sustainability principles,' said Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad, who served as emcee of the event. 'Sustainability is not just a goal, it's an attitude.'

It was easy to pick up a sustainable attitude at the breakfast summit, which was presented by the city of Lake Oswego, Clackamas County and the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

The event featured the premier of the new video Going Green at Work, along with special guest speakers Allen Alley, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and Steve Clark, president of Community Newspapers, Inc., which includes the Lake Oswego Review and the West Linn Tidings among the 17 newspapers in its group.

But perhaps the best feature of the event was that it allowed government officials and business people to sit down at a table with some outstanding people in the sustainability field and talk about how a 'green' future can be attained for Lake Oswego.

In fact, this summit may prove to be a milestone.

'This event is evidence that we might be on the turning point of getting the business community involved in sustainability,' said Douglas Rich, Lake Oswego, who is serving as a volunteer for the Northwest Earth Institute.

'Businesses are sometimes afraid of changing their way of doing business when it comes to sustainability. But the resources are there and the connections are starting to happen.'

The business connection was strong in Going Green at Work. It included seven local people talking about what their businesses and institutions are doing to be sustainable, from doing simple things around the office to making major changes in the way they do business.

'It's a painless habit,' said Todd Weedman of Todd's Import Automotive, in his segment of the video. 'It's a retraining of yourself. The time is right to move in the direction of sustainability. If an auto shop can do it, anyone can.'

Few Oregonians can match the business credentials of Alley, a Lake Oswego resident whose business career keeps him trotting the globe.

'I've spent more time in China in the last 10 years than Lake Oswego,' Alley said.

However, the founder of Pixelworks was recently enlisted by Gov. Kulongoski as his deputy chief of staff, which puts Alley right in the middle of efforts to achieve sustainability in Oregon.

'In Oregon we're at the epicenter of the greatest economic opportunity since the automobile was invented,' Alley said. 'The tools already exist in our state to do this.'

Alley predicted there would be a transformation of the entire energy economy 'for the first time since the invention of fire.'

And for good reason.

'For 500,000 years we've been burning 24 million-year-old fossil fuels for our energy,' Alley said. 'As an engineer and an earthling, it's embarrassing to admit this.'

Clark promised that his 17 newspapers would continue to help lead the way on sustainability. It was a year ago that Clark introduced the Sustainable Life section to CNI, which is now received by 180,000 readers.

'We hope we're describing things that are making a difference,' Clark said. 'We want to make Sustainable Life relevant to each person's life; not once a month but every day.'

Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad closed the meeting on a message: Go out and be sustainable.

'The whole purpose of this is to raise awareness and put you in contact with others,' the mayor said. 'Think about your role in the future of the planet.'

The excellent turnout for the breakfast was exactly what Lake Oswego city sustainability planner Susan Millhauser, who organized the event along with Susan Terry of Clackamas County, was hoping for.

'Our purpose was to get people together, start a dialogue and achieve better understanding,' Millhauser said.