Workshop #3
December 11 - 12, 2008

Sustainable, beneficial development and "green" jobs as part of economic growth became the foci of the third Nebraska Sustainability Leadership Workshop in Mead on December 11 and 12.

Representatives from regional city councils, schools, and other organizations engaged in discussion about the importance of sustainable principles to the growth and economic development of rural Nebraska communities. Among specific topics discussed were:

• Waste management issues
• Declining population
• Community growth and economic development
• Entrepreneurship and youth leadership, particularly regarding "green jobs"
• Land use planning, zoning, tools and guidelines for initiatives
• Conflict assessment
• Consistency, or lack thereof, of bureaucratic requirements and public policy

W. Cecil Steward, founder of the NSLW, demonstrated how his Five Domains of Sustainable Development and the EcoSTEP™ tool for measuring sustainability can be used in planning and tracking projects within individual institutions or buildings as well as within regions or large developments.

Mary Ferdig, president of the Sustainability Leadership Institute, facilitated the workshop and led the group through defining issues relevant in their communities and how certain qualities of leadership can be enhanced in addressing those issues sustainably, and with regard to the Five Domains.

Mark Gustafson of the Rural Initiative program of UNL talked about new initiatives in agri- and eco-tourism in the state. He said there is a growing focus on communities moving forward in sustainable ways and in focusing on energy resources like wind turbines. An important issue just now being realized in many communities is the development of local food networks. "There is way more demand than there is production," said Gustafson.

On that point, Dr. Andrew Jameton, who teaches in the Public Health department at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, talked about his involvement in City Sprouts, the established and successful community garden project in Omaha. He emphasized the importance of knowing our food is safe, and how local food networks benefit everyone involved.

Carrie Hakenkamp, executive director of WasteCap Nebraska, started a lively discussion about landfills and waste management versus recycling programs in Nebraska businesses and communities. The issue is one of great concern to many communities, according to several participants in the workshop. Hakenkamp suggested that tipping fees in Nebraska communties tend to be too low, thereby not providing incentives for recycling. She spoke of one community that is currently providing recycling incentives by levying a per pound charge for trash going to landfills and giving a per pound refund for items being recycled.

Marc Shkolnick of Lincoln Electric System talked to the group about that utility company's energy-saving efforts.

In break-out sessions, parcipants used the EcoSTEP™ tool to address specific questions. One group asked, "How can our community become the most aggressive provider of green jobs?" They determined that establishing a task force or steering committee would be the first necessary step, and went on to determine that providing incentives for edcuation and job-training as well as locally-owned green businesses would be important. Assessments of ROI strategies, as well as identifying appropriate technologies for the local market, as well as assessing existing educational programs, and creating an incubator/innovation center. The long-term goals were determined to be becoming a catalyst for regulatory compliance, as well as leading the way to policy revision, establishing a research and development mechanism, and building new markets.

The second group dealt with the real-life issue of the city of Wahoo's new development of the Wanahoo Lake and bypass and its impact on the existing community. The question the group asked was, "How can we take advantage of these changes in beneficial, sustainable ways?"

Providing technology - broadband and connectivity capabilities - is one important aspect in Wahoo's development. They talked about helping to develop and/or revitalize niche businesses and encouraging "smart" business transitions in a proactive way, while working to revitalize the downtown area. Making an assessment of current building inventory, then retrofitting those buildings to be greener and more sustainable, was considered to be a key action.

Outreach to neighboring communities, providing a family-friendly milieu, with daycare before- and after-school programs, as well as summer recreation are important to the socio-cultural development of the community. Particularly important are addressing run-off strategies, sustainable waste treatement and recycling, and affecting public policy to address these issues.

Cecil Steward summed up the effective use of sustainable development planning using the EcoSTEP tool this way, "Always be looking to solve more than one problem with one solution."

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Resources from
Mead Workshop

Most of the workshop materials can be downloaded from our Resources and Documents pages. Below are some materials specifically from the consultants and speakers at the Mead workshop, as well as some who were not there.

Many participants were interested in affordable housing issues, which was not addressed at the workshop. Steve Peregrine, of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, provided these contacts for participants:

Community and Rural Development Division
Nebraska Department of Economic Development
Lara Huskey, Director
Paula Rhian, Housing Coordinator

Nebraska Investment Finance Authority
Steve Peregrine, Deputy Director
Community Investments
Jackie Young, Manager
Single Family Program

Below, you can download the presentations from two expert consultants who attended the Mead workshop.

Sharing the Peak Through Energy Efficiency, PowerPoint presentation by Marc Shkolnick, Manager of Energy Services, Lincoln Electric System

Sustainable Local Food Systems: Best Practices, PowerPoint presentation by Andrew Jameton, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and City Sprouts

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