Community Conversation Initiates Discussion on Sustainability Issues in Ewing

Just over two weeks ago over 50 concerned Ewing residents, township staff and elected officials  met to have a discussion about a sustainable future for Ewing Township.   It was a gorgeous day and in fact according to one attendee ” I truthfully wanted to skip it when I saw what a beautiful day it was, but I’m so glad that I went!  I think this will be a very beneficial process for Ewing, if it is communicated to and shared with the community.”

In fall of 2013, Ewing Township obtained its first bronze-level of Sustainable Jersey certification.  Using the funds made possible from  a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey Small Grant funded by PSEG Foundation, the team is using a community visioning process to plan for the next 3 year certification.   By consulting the community on what is important to them, the Ewing Green Team plans to respond with a coordinated strategy plan that is specific to what the people of Ewing value and want.  The  Community Conversation on June 7th was the first step in the process. The Green Team will now take the input gathered from the participants and work to develop and prioritize specific goals.  Look for development of specific topics developed at the visioning to be further refined at the summer Green Team meetings.  A second visioning workshop is targeted for fall 2014. The community be invited to come together again to review the sustainability goals that were developed.

Zero Waste Report

Our first conversation was a low-waste effort.  We saw many travel mugs and personal beverage containers.  We were pleased to obtain about ½ of a bag of compostable materials which were taken to the compost bins at the Community Gardens on Whitehead Road Extension.  There was about ¼ of a bag of actual “garbage” that will end up in a landfill.  And the rest of the trash was recyclable.  We kept the badges – the plastic containers are reusable (we hope see community members again during our meetings as we brainstorm for a plan and at the Fall review) and the paper insert was recyclable.

It required a little bit more effort to plan for a low waste event, but for a gathering of our size we felt that the results justified our efforts.  From the cloth napkins to the absence of extraneous handouts and paper, to the lack of individual sized containers (e.g. sugar packets, individual creamers and tubs and jars of condiments, etc.) and even to the double sided badge with the agenda, we tried to reduce our use of unnecessary packaging, plastic and garbage in general.

The public is invited to attend the next Ewing Green Team meeting on June 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ewing Senior and Community Center where the members will begin to brainstorm on some of the initial themes developed from the visioning session.

Grant Helps Ewing Green Team Chart Its Course

Ewing Township was just awarded a $10,000 grant from Sustainable Jersey through their small grants program.  The grant, funded by PSE&G, will fund a professional strategic planning team to facilitate the group and citizens of Ewing to create a multi-year vision and action plan for sustainability.  Ewing Green Team leadership worked with Township officials through a detailed selection process to choose a facilitating team from among 3 candidates.   MaGa Consulting, LLC from Cherry Hill was ultimately chosen.  Lori Braunstein and Natalie Barney of MaGa have experience organizing several New Jersey municipalities and were instrumental to Cherry Hill’s success in implementing an extensive sustainability plan.

The process begins now and will continue throughout 2014.   There will be two or three visioning sessions, for which invited participants from a broad range of constituencies, neighborhoods and municipal, civic and business leadership will lend their time and talent to create a vision and plan.  This strategic planning is the first step toward growing the organization and the community’s interest and coordinated effort to be able to make a strategic, positive impact for the future.  “We want to engage the citizens of Ewing in creating a vision for a very livable, prosperous Ewing that sustains itself for future generations” said Joanne Mullowney, communications officer for the Green Team.

While the vision for Ewing will be unique, actions will likely include aspects of the Sustainable Jersey framework.  Currently, the Green Team works in several sustainability areas, often in conjunction with partners such as the Ewing Environmental Commission and TCNJ.  These areas include community gardening and local food; municipal, business and home energy improvements; walking, biking and trails; recycling through the Shred Day events, and others.  In fall 2013, Ewing obtained Bronze certification and is endeavoring to achieve points for actions sufficient to achieve the Silver certification in the future.