Strong Communities Competition
Congratulations to the winners of our Strong Communities: Engaging Citizens, Strengthening Place, Inspiring Change competition!
These winners were selected via online public voting between September 22 and October 7. The eight finalists presented their innovative ideas during the Strong Communities plenary session and we announced them live at CM'10® on Friday, October 8. Be sure to keep tabs on these amazing projects as they continue their quest to steer change.
Sustainable Jersey is a LEED-style certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money, and sustain their quality of life. It provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward communities as they pursue sustainability programs.
Randy Solomon, along with colleagues Fred Profeta and Donna Drewes, spoke to CM'10 attendees about the importance of creating a new pathway to make decisions about the future of communities. A self-proclaimed "shadow government," Sustainable Jersey is encouraging local government to get involved in sustainability initiatives.
After realizing that meaningful environmental change at the local level would not occur without the leadership of a hard-working group of mayors, the New Jersey League of Municipalities formed the Mayors’ Committee for a Green Future (MCGF). The MCGF joined forces with the New Jersey Sustainable State Institute at Rutgers University (NJSSI) and the Municipal Land Use Center at the College of New Jersey (MLUC@TCNJ) to develop the certification criteria and tools that became the basis for the Sustainable Jersey program.
The Making Connections Network in Louisville, Kentucky is using principles of social network formation to organize citizens, proactively address issues like education and human services and transform the systems and policies that affect Louisville families.
At CM'10, Dana Jackson, with colleagues Anthony Smith and Jennie Jean Davidson, emphasized the need to knock down longstanding inequities by making information and data available to everyone. The Making Connections Network belies that relationship matter; relationships to place, people and opportunities should be deep and enduring.
The Network Organizing team tried and investigated several forms of traditional community organizing, none of which resulted in trust-based relationships among residents. They felt this profound relationship was the lynchpin: deep connections would allow residents to identify issues and consider solutions that worked for all members of the community. In order to involve all residents and their families, they created a membership-based network that would create the opportunity to celebrate achievements for local neighborhoods.
Sustain-a-Raisers (inspired by barn-raising) are teams of youth in New Hampshire's Lakes Region that provide sustainable home and yard retrofits, promoting resource conservation and self-sufficiency and teaching teens valuable green collar job skills.
Josh Arnold inspired CM'10 attendees with the story of Global Awareness, Local Action (GALA), the non-profit he founded in 2006. The Sustain-A-Raisers concept is based on the idea that reciprocity leads to resilience. This model is replicable and can be applied anywhere, and most importantly is fun for participants.
In 2008, Josh found himself working with just a few people to install a solar hot water heater. Inspired by the idea that "many hands make light work," Josh sought to develop a process that would make sustainability more affordable and fun. Around that same time, he also became aware of the vast numbers of young people leaving New Hampshire in search of better jobs and opportunities. The combination of energy retrofits with entrepreneurial skills, Josh created the Sustain-A-Raisers model, giving a nod to barn raising, which conjures a positive community building memory for many New England residents.