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Sustainability a focus of city grant program

The Forest Grove Sustainability Commission has taken on a lot of responsibility.

On July 1, the Forest Grove City Council awarded about one-quarter of available Community Enhancement Program grants — $20,207 out of $91,507 altogether — to four sustainability projects the commission is sponsoring.

And not one of them is a small endeavor.

Collaborative Sustainable Community: $4,924

While three of the main projects have already been decided upon, the fourth grant will provide mini-grants to other projects that will be approved by the commission.

The first mini-grant will fund the next Latino Community Summit, where local Latino leaders will help Spanish speakers understand utility bills, council meetings and other government services. At a previous summit, Latinos reported feeling largely underserved in Forest Grove, where they make up 22 percent of the population.

People or groups can apply for mini-grants throughout the year.

Sustainability in Schools: $6,524

This grant will provide much-needed relief to teachers and administrators who have been funding class projects out-of-pocket.

Along with reimbursing those individuals, the grant will also continue to fund or upgrade equipment for projects that are already in progress at Forest Grove schools.

With no money available from the district, school faculty themselves paid for after-school volunteer programs that created algae oil, wind turbines, solar ovens and garden beds and introduced cafeteria composting.

Once the Sustainability Commission got word, they didn’t hesitate to jump in to try and help.

“These kids are the next generation of professionals,” Commission Chairman Brian Schimmel said. “All it takes is inspiring a couple hundred kids to find solutions for the investment to be worthwhile.”

“Don’t Waste Food Dude!”: $3,959

This grant is the next iteration of the Farmers Market Waste Center’s campaign to encourage sustainability by fighting food waste.

Previous campaigns included “Got Bags,” “Straws Suck” and “Capturing Caps.”

This year, it will use its grant to purchase additional supplies and marketing materials for the farmers market and to fund support for the Waste Center. Materials will be translated for the Spanish-speaking population.

The money will also buy 27 compost bins at a discounted rate and pass that discount on to local residents who buy them at the farmers market. It will also send seven of them to nutrition gardens at different Forest Grove schools.

Reusable Bag Initiative: $4,800

Coinciding with an ongoing city-wide proposal to ban plastic bags in Forest Grove, the Sustainability Commission wants to use the Reusable Bag grant to help fund the purchase of one such bag for every home in Forest Grove.

Through this initiative, the commission hopes to create awareness within the community of the harm plastic bags cause to the environment.

After choosing a fabric and logo for the bag’s design, the commission plans to distribute the reusable bags by September or October.

At its last meeting, the committee brought about five different kinds of reusable bags to consider and hopes to choose one style at its next meeting.