Sustainability efforts in Janesville has long been a subject I wanted to address on Discover Janesville. Grassroots efforts in general have always been important to me, and sustainability has provided an excellent platform for many in our community in becoming more politically active.
The first interview I would like to share with you is my conversation with Allison Rollette. Desire to become more self-reliant as well as more economical in her expenditures, led Allison to do research on chickens in private residences. Her efforts coincided with efforts by another Janesville resident who at first generated substantially more publicity for his interest in this subject than Allison. Yet it was Ms. Rollette who put together a 30-page report outlining the benefits of this idea, which she presented to the city council, and consistently responded to criticisms of those opposed to allowing chickens (or rather hens) in private residences, on the Gazette’s website and in other venues. Allison also showed a great deal of organizing skill in bringing together a group of citizens who supported the idea of allowing residents to have up to 4 hens within the city limits, an ordinance similar to the one passed by the Madison City Council. The Janesville City Council ultimately voted down the idea but I was impressed with Allison’s tenacity in her desire to improve the lives of others and to change a government regulation her common sense told her made no sense.
Next, I sat down for a conversation with Julie Watson Backenkeller. Long an advocate of increased awareness of the impact that development activities have on the environment, Julie is known to many for her ongoing crusade to promote sustainability efforts in the city of Janesville as well as in the entire Rock county. An eloquent speaker, Julie also regularly writes on sustainability issues for the Janesville Gazette.
Julie Backenkeller part 1
Julie Backenkeller part 2
In the conversation on sustainability, I felt it was important to have as many different points of view represented, and a very important side to this discussion are the efforts undertaken by the city of Janesville in order to become more sustainable in its operations.
Al Hulick is a Management Analyst with the city of Janesville. Al is also one of the most educated members of the city staff when it comes to sustainability issues. I was glad to sit down with Al and have him list the many initiatives, old and new, efforts and accomplishments that the city has been able to claim to its credit. After all, when activists speak of the many things that can be done still, its important to remember that sustainability efforts are on-going, which means that some goals are yet to be accomplished, while some initiatives are already paying off.
Al Hulick part 1
Al Hulick part 2
Al Hulick part 3
Finally, no conversation about sustainability would be complete without understanding how these efforts are resonating with the general public, and I felt that a good way to do this was to interview a business that functions according to the sustainability principles. Basics Cooperative fit that part – a successful local business that’s been around for many years – Basics was represented on the program by Chris Blakeney, floor manager at the cooperative.
In the interest of full disclosure, the episode was taped at Basics and Basics Cooperative was a partial sponsor of the episode.
Chris Blakeney part 1
Chris Blakeney part 2