In a national vote, Sustainable Jersey was named one of three winners of the Community Matters Changemakers competition, “Strong Communities: Engaging Citizens, Strengthening Place, Inspiring Change.” Sustainable Jersey will receive $5,000 and national recognition as a top social change innovation. The Strong Communities competition was designed to identify innovative projects and ideas that engage citizens to steer change and build strong communities across the United States and Canada. Sustainable Jersey was one of 260 competition entrants. The entrants were narrowed to eight top programs by a panel of expert judges including Majora Carter, Founder of Sustainable South Bronx and President of the Majora Carter Group; Rich Harwood, Founder and President of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation; Jared Duval, author and Fellow at Demos; and Bonnie Shaw, Founder and Director of BYO Consulting. As a finalist, Sustainable Jersey participated in the national CommunityMatters’10 conference in Denver, Colorado from October 5-8, which brought together leaders, thinkers and doers working to build stronger communities.
Sustainable Jersey program founders Randall Solomon and Donna Drewes of Municipal Land Use Center at The College of New Jersey and Fred Profeta, Jr. of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities’ Mayors’ Committee for a Green Future went to Denver to make a presentation to the conference attendees. They emphasized the importance of creating a new pathway to make decisions about the future of communities and noted that the green team members become a shadow government that encourages local governments to get involved in sustainability initiatives. On-line voting allowed the general public to review the entrees and vote for the finalists. Three “inspired change” winners were announced in Denver on October 8: 1) Sustainable Jersey, 2) Sustain-A-Raisers, a program in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and 3) the Making Connections Network, a program in Louisville Kentucky. Thanks to an online social networking effort, Sustainable Jersey led the voting by a significant margin, capturing approximately 52% percent of the total vote.
Sustainable Jersey is the most successful statewide municipal sustainability certification program in the country. Over 6,700 people in New Jersey have participated in statewide training and outreach events in 2010. The program has distributed over half a million dollars to New Jersey communities to support an estimated 1,500 actions taken “on the ground” to make communities more livable, environmentally friendly and prosperous. The comprehensive sustainability program links certification with strong state and private financial incentives, and a fully resourced program of technical support and training. Over 300 of New Jersey’s towns and cities (55%-or 312 towns across all 21 counties) have registered to become Sustainable Jersey certified. By supporting community efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental equity, Sustainable Jersey is empowering New Jersey towns to build a better world for future generations.