Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ky. county trying to set example for sustainable development in rural America

A small, rural county in Central Kentucky is hoping to strengthen its reputation as the greenest, most sustainable county in the state and set an example for other rural areas. The government of Washington County (Wikipedia map) cleaned up 27 illegal dumps in 2001, which led the state to declare it the state's first Certified Clean County, Carol Spence of the University of Kentucky reports. Now the county has a master plan that focuses on farmland preservation but still encourages growth.

In the county seat of Springfield, "Residents take advantage of a free curbside-pickup recycling program; farmers participate in study groups about sustainability; children bring home free energy-efficient light bulbs from school; and leaders of a local non-profit organization are focusing their current efforts on local food and making homes more energy efficient," Spence reports. "They have worked on this a small part at a time. They've done little steps," Lori Garkovich, UK professor of community and leadership development, told Spence.

Achieving sustainablility in a rural county was eased by a shared vision of what could be and the ability to break up the big picture into smaller pieces, Spence reports. "We're doing our little bit," said Sister Claire McGowan, a Dominican nun and leader of the grassroots organization New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future. "And we're hoping that we can provide some light to other rural communities in Kentucky. Yes, it is hard work, but you can have fun while you're doing it, and it really will end up making a big difference, not just for us, but also for the future generations who will live in and love this place." (Read more)

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