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The View From Here: Sustainability Network pushing LO to create a resilient community

Duke Castle just wouldn’t let it rest.

For the better part of a year, the co-founder of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network has been pressuring The Review to partner with him in his mission to demonstrate that environmental, economic and social best practices can improve the health not only of a business, but also of the community where it thrives.

“The idea,” Castle told us, “is to look at how we can work together to build a community that’s resilient — something our children and grandchildren are going to want to live in.”

To make that happen, Castle and his steering committee — Lisa Adatto, Dorothy Atwood, Jan Castle and Mary Ratcliff — have worked for two years to push a simple agenda: Use renewable resources whenever possible. Use biologically safe products wherever possible. Protect natural ecosystems. And support people’s capacity to meet their basic needs fairly and efficiently.

It’s a message that Lake Oswego seems to have taken to heart.

Last week, 13 businesses and organizations were honored as the city’s first “Leaders in Sustainability” by the network and Clackamas County Resource Conservation and Solid Waste. Among the honorees: Babica Hen Café; Bike Gallery; Gubanc’s Pub & Restaurant; Dr. Nicholas Dose’s dental office; Dyke Vandenburgh Jewelers; Kyra’s Bake Shop; Lake Grove Car Wash; Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst; Norris, Beggs & Simpson; Shear Creations; Tucci Ristorante; Wishbone Home & Design; and the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

Several more are in the process of securing certification, including Accessories from the Heart, Lake Theater & Cafe, Lamb’s Palisades Market, Lakeside Bicycles, Marylhurst University, New Seasons Market and the City of Lake Oswego. The Lake Oswego School District also is working closely with the Sustainability Network.

“The school community has become particularly active this year,” Castle says. “Our focus is to support them in the development of their long-range facilities plan, and to help them achieve certification through the Green Schools certification program.”

Building that kind of community commitment to sustainability was one of the network’s goals when it formed in 2013, Castle says. So was having a sustainability-related Letter to the Editor published in The Review every week. That hasn’t happened, but Castle says much of the rest of the network’s wish list has come to pass:

-- Six action teams have been created in the areas of Economic Vitality, Education, Energy, Emergency Preparedness, Water and Climate Change;

-- In addition to the 13 “Leaders in Sustainability” and the eight others working through the process, 27 businesses, nonprofit groups, governmental organizations and faith-based communities have signed up as Network Partners, with a shared goal of working together to address sustainability issues;

-- The city has installed LEDs in its street lights, saving more than $200,000 every year; agreed to purchase 100 percent Clean Wind energy from PGE, becoming an EPA Green Power Partner; and adopted high-performance standards for the proposed maintenance center and police/911 facilities.

“And probably most importantly,” Castle says, the city has also continued funding for a sustainability coordinator and the Sustainability Advisory Board “after a new City Council wanted to cut back on sustainability initiatives and eliminate the sustainability coordinator’s position.”

That’s an impressive list of accomplishments, and next week the network will celebrate with what Castle is calling “an interactive conversation about how Lake Oswego can make us proud.”

City Manager Scott Lazenby and school Superintendent Heather Beck will be the keynote speakers for the event at the Holy Names Heritage Center at Mary’s Woods. The free event is set for 5:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4. There is no cost to attend, and the community is invited.

“At the end of our event, we are going to ask attendees what their future aspirations are,” Castle says. “One area we are already seeing come up is climate change, so I anticipate that will be a key issue we will begin addressing as a community in 2016.”

Will The Review be there? Absolutely.

It took a few months of emails, phone calls and a little arm-twisting by Castle, but he finally met with the newspaper’s staff last month and we became a Network Partner, vowing to help the organization reach more people and to participate in more projects with community-wide visibility.

We’re also working through the process of becoming certified as a “Leader in Sustainability.” Lisa Clifton of Clackamas County Resource Conservation and Solid Waste and I sat down earlier this month to go over the four-page checklist of economic, environmental and employee/community engagement items that make up the application process.

Not surprisingly, we were able to check off a lot of those requirements. We’ve still got some work to do, but we’re committed to completing the process and I expect us to achieve at least a Silver certification when we’re done.

Why? Because as I’ve said so many times in this space, The Review is not simply a disinterested observer of life in Lake Oswego. We are the community’s newspaper, and that means we have a responsibility to be an integral part of this community and to play an integral role in creating a place “where our children and grandchildren will want to live.”

If those words sound familiar, it’s because that’s what Duke Castle has been telling us for the past several months. We have always believed that, of course, but we are certainly grateful for his persistent reminders.

Gary M. Stein is editor of The Lake Oswego Review.