Sustainable Jersey held their awards ceremony earlier this week to recognize the 38 towns who achieved Sustainable Jersey certification in 2010 by meeting the program’s certification requirements. Four of those communities surpassed all others by meeting the advanced requirements of the new Silver Level of certification. Was your town one of the 38? You can find out here.
Remarkably, 315 (56%) of New Jersey towns have registered with the program and are pursuing the certification. This is quite a testament to Sustainable Jersey as a useful framework for New Jersey towns to work towards a more sustainable future; it is also a testament to the desire of New Jerseyans to make their communities more livable.
As Sustainable Jersey expands the scope of its actions that municipalities can take to become certified, Dodge has encouraged program leaders to consider the role of creativity in community building. An Arts, Culture and Historical Preservation stakeholder group has formed and is working on arts and education programming opportunities for Sustainable Jersey that include linkages to Arts Builds Communities, concepts like arts as an economic engine of redevelopment, the Cloud Institute‘s work on educating for sustainability, and the NJ Learns program. It is hard to separate the themes of creativity and sustainability, as we know we need innovative minds to develop holistic, systems to drive solutions to today’s social, economic and environmental issues.
As the stakeholder group continues its work, Dodge and the Sustainable Jersey team also know that we need to shine light on places where the community has become a canvas for sustainable solutions and where community building-artists have expressed their vision for what is possible. This thinking led to the inaugural Sustainable Jersey Creative Community award.
Dodge was thrilled to help bestow this honor to Galloway Township. The Go Green Galloway team has created a wide spectrum of entry points to their Sustainable Jersey work. From the “recirculation committee,” which helps community members find matches for the re-use of household items, to the native plant landscaping committee, Galloway is pushing the envelope of community engagement. They also included a public art project at the heart of their community garden project, and they transformed a drainage basin into a habitat friendly, recreation rich lake setting (Patriots Lake).
The most ingenious community engagement strategy, however, may have been the media project that the high school took on in support of the re-usable bag campaign. Students created inspiring messages and have become a key partner in the success of the campaign.
There is an interesting footnote to this story.
At the same time that the concept of creativity was being celebrated in a sustainability forum, a team from Dodge and the Municipal Land Use Center of the College of New Jersey (the academic partner in Sustainable Jersey) were injecting concepts of sustainability at the Creativity World Forum in Oklahoma. We look forward to reviewing what we learned at the conference to help advance the integration of these themes in New Jersey.