Vernon has joined the Sustainable CT Program for 2019 created by the CT Conference of Municipalities - towns and cities working together to improve everyone's life. But all politics is local so how does it benefit you and your family in Vernon?
The Vision of Sustainable CT is: Communities strive to be thriving, resilient, collaborative, and forward-looking. They build community and local economy. They equitably promote the health and well-being of current and future residents, and they respect the finite capacity of the natural environment.
Participating will benefit Vernon and you through its environmental impact, greenhouse gas reduction, improved health & wellness, cost savings, community economic well-being, community climate resilience, community building and equity. It touches most aspects of our lives and can make our community a better place to live and work. Our neighbors in Coventry, Hebron and South Windsor were recognized last year.
What does Sustainability mean?
The United Nations defines sustainability as 'ensuring that we meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' We usually think about this as applying to energy and the environment. They do, but this program is more as it focuses on not just the environment, but also the economy and our social life - things that apply to all areas of our lives.
How does Vernon's program work?
We are provided with a menu of voluntary actions to continually become more sustainable. There are 9 categories, each with a number of possible actions from which to select. To become certified we must choose and implement at least one action from each category earning points depending on the difficulty of the action selected. Certification gives us recognition as a town that cares about improving the lives of its residents, but also makes us eligible for grant funding to help achieve these goals.
To give you a better idea of what the categories and actions are, and which might apply to you and your family, they are summarized below. Vernon won't do all of them, but you can see the direction we are taking. You only need to scan the list to gain an understanding of what is involved.
1- Thriving Local Economies
2- Well Stewarded Land & Natural Resources
3- Vibrant & Creative Cultural Ecosystems
4- Dynamic & Resilient Planning
5- Clean & Diverse Transportation Systems & Choices
6- Efficient Physical Infrastructure & Operations
7- Strategic & Inclusive Public Services
8- Healthy Efficient & Diverse Housing
9- Inclusive & Equitable Community Impacts
Is this a One and Done program?
Whatever level of certification we earn in 2019 is only good for two years. To retain our certification or strive for a higher level (levels are bronze, silver and gold) we must plan ahead and continuously improve. If Vernon's leadership continues to emphasize the program every town department, commission and organization will have their own goals to achieve and to be evaluated on.
The timing is particularly important because we will soon begin work on our 10 year Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD). The POCD is a requirement for every town and involves residents. Our last POCD was published in early 2012 and can be read here. It is an important project for reviewing what is important to our community and how we balance economic development with livable space. The result is a report that guides our decisions over the next ten years and creates a 'To Do' list for town departments and commissions. The Sustainable Vernon effort should mesh nicely with the POCD development.
Success and continuous improvement depends on residents showing interest in the program - letting our administration know we care and encouraging them to continue. As this is an election year in Vernon it's a good opportunity to tell our local elected officials that this initiative is important to us.
How can you learn more about Vernon's initiative?
You can learn more about the Sustainable CT program by visiting their website at SustainableCT.org.
Or to learn more about Vernon's program there is a public introduction this Thursday, April 25 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the Camp Newhoca Lodge, 186 Grier Road in Vernon on Bolton Lake. If you plan to attend let Leslie Campolongo know at LCampolongo@vernon-ct.gov. Read the flyer.
This initiative is too promising not to get behind and hope to see succeed.
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