August 21, 2018; Oswego Patch
There is nothing that delights NPQ more than to amplify hyperlocal news for the edification of our entire sector. The Village of Oswego in Illinois submitted news to its local Patch about taking a new approach to its sustainability efforts by transforming the village-run ECO Commission (Environmentally Conscious Oswego) into a separate nonprofit organization. The village board is expected to finalize a change in the village code today to allow ECO to dissolve to pave the way for former commissioners and interested Oswego residents to embolden “the mission of a sustainable community.”
Founded in 2007, ECO membership has been on the decline recently, so the remaining members decided to double down.
“Part of the membership issue we identified was not a lack of interest in environmental issues so much as it was the challenges inherent in the commission structure and the rules that guide them,” said Village President Gail Johnson. “ECO members want to be more adaptable and hands-on, and we want to encourage them and all interested residents to take that more active role in promoting sustainability in Oswego.”
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Like the ECO Commission before it, this new nonprofit will advise the Village Board on issues like residential solid waste, electronic waste recycling, and curbside compost collection. It will continue to produce events such as the annual Recycling Extravaganza, Community Garage Sale, and Fox River Cleanup.
The Village is also forming a Green Team of staff from public works, community relations, community development and other departments that will meet regularly to review and implement best practices.
Partnerships with other environmental organizations like The Conservation Foundation provide Oswego with such measurable benefits as rain barrels and butterfly gardens, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the new Police Department headquarters, and LED lighting for streets and Village-owned buildings. Oswego just signed the Greenest Region Compact.
Oswego joins other villages, towns, cities, and especially states in putting forth a significant and impassioned counterforce to the anti-environmental policy push of the Trump administration and the beneficiary corporations. They are articulating their opposition, and state attorneys general are fighting the rule rollback in the courts. Under our federal system, states have sovereignty and the legal right and obligation to protect the health and welfare of their residents. In addition to state attorneys general offices trying to delay changes in regulations, communities such as Oswego add their incremental interventions and moral courage to the fight to protect the environment and the health of their community’s residents.
Yesterday, we read about the “Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record. Also yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced its proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, a replacement to Obama’s signature climate rule that will permit coal plants to release more pollution into the air, the second-largest source of climate emissions in the US. These, as we know, are not good times for environmental protection advocates. But on the same day, the Village of Oswego amplified its voice and reasserted its efforts to protect the planet in its modest ways—and that is news worth celebrating.—Jim Schaffer