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After community workshops, council set to revisit sustainability plan


Ideas include mapping and harvesting fruit trees, a community garden and tool library.

Just about two months after the last of its three community workshops, the West Linn Sustainability Advisory Board is set to present its findings before the City Council Aug. 4.

The workshops, which took place March 15, April 19 and May 31, encouraged residents to work together in creating a map of the city’s future plans for energy, water, food and waste systems.

While the city has an internal sustainability committee, the sustainability advisory board was created as a citizen oversight committee to make recommendations and help connect residents with the process. The city is working to update the Sustainable West Linn Strategic Plan, which was last updated in 2006.

by: TIDINGS FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - After three productive community workshops, the Sustainability Advisory Board is set to present its latest findings to the city council Aug. 4. “There was pretty good community turnout, I felt,” board chairwoman Nicole Alexander said. “In workshop three, it really ended up with (four) projects … as the main projects that might have had a champion, or several champions.”

Those four ideas were a “fruit tree project,” a West Linn community cooperative, a community garden team and a tool library.

The fruit tree project — which would involve mapping and harvesting of untapped local fruit trees — and the tool library are seen more as short term projects, according to Alexander, while the community co-op and garden would be revisited further down the line.

And, as Associate City Planner Zach Pelz said, these projects are far from set in stone as planning continues.

“I don’t think this set of projects identified now is meant to be the ultimate final list of projects,” Pelz said. “They’ll evolve and they’ll continue to identify new projects through this framework, and the long range sustainable West Linn strategic plan will talk about that.

“But it’s kind of a framework for the city to interact with residents and for the city to ask residents to initiate and champion projects the city can support.”

The advisory board will look for feedback from the city council after its presentation Aug. 4, then move forward with the planning process. The goal, according to Pelz and Alexander, is to have a draft of the new sustainability plan complete by the end of the year.

“One thing this plan will do is try to set targets for future years,” Pelz said. “So, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by X percent, reducing water consumption, vehicular miles travelled, buying more local things. We’re trying to actually set numerical targets for some of those things.”

A common theme in each of the three workshops was food production and consumption.

“The fruit tree project, the community garden team, a co-op and tool library all touch on food and food resiliency,” Alexander said.

“Everything we have to buy here is shipped in,” vice chairwoman Clare Beam added. “We don’t really have anything we make here.”

Even after the workshops, a focus moving forward is to continue outreach and allow for plenty of feedback.

“We have a lot of interest and support for sustainable types of initiatives,” Pelz said. “But we don’t have a good way to connect those people with one another. So there’s a lot of disparate groups trying to do little things on their own, but there is a potential to do larger things if those people could have a way to communicate.”

The workshops were a start, but residents are also encouraged to contact board members or even attend regularly scheduled meetings if possible.

“One of the council goals was to increase community outreach for the year, and this really fell into that,” Alexander said. “It was a good way to get community input on the update, which is a plan for the whole community.”