Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 11
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
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Sustainable Princeton Convenes To Brainstorm a Greener Princeton

Dilshanie Perera

In its second public meeting, Sustainable Princeton appeared before over a hundred members of the community last Wednesday at the Suzanne Patterson Center to discuss ways in which to foster sustainability within the town, and to implement practices aligned with their goals in four sectors: the Borough and Township; local businesses and non-profits; schools, and residences.

Attendees joined the four working groups that correspond with the four sectors above to brainstorm ideas, find out how others are contributing to Princeton’s sustainability, and to determine what actions to take next.

Member of the Sustainable Princeton Steering Committee Wendy Kaczerski, who also chairs the Princeton Environmental Commission, characterized sustainability as a community-wide effort. Township Mayor Bernie Miller echoed her sentiment, saying that a sustainability plan is really a community plan since it “reaches across every part.”

“The goals of the draft plan were endorsed by both municipal governing bodies,” Mr. Miller noted, while Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman remarked that “the bottom line is that if we want to preserve and protect our resources, and make them available for future generations, we are going to have to do our part to help keep Princeton as sustainable as it can possibly be.”

The draft plan that Sustainable Princeton put together represents “the culmination of two years of work,” observed Ms. Kaczerski. The 200-page tract will be a “living document” that will grow and change based on new practices and data.

Six broad goals anchor the plan. They include greening the built environment; improving transportation and mobility; building a strong, local green economy; protecting environmental health and natural resources; curbing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change through energy conservation and renewable energy; and fostering an educated, engaged, vibrant, and socially responsible community.

The working groups, each headed by members of the Sustainable Princeton Steering Committee, were asked what they envision a sustainable community may look like, and what members of each community (the municipalities, businesses, schools, and residences) can do to achieve the goals in the plan in both the long and short term. In order for the town to become greener and more sustainable, Ms. Kaczerski suggested that a collaboration between each sector is essential.

Participants in the meeting broke into four groups and spoke for an hour regarding their chosen sector within which to spur sustainable practice.

Perhaps Heidi Fichtenbaum, one of the leaders of the resident action group said it best: “There are two ways of impacting sustainability as residents, namely, how we live as individuals, and how we can work collectively (to form a food co-op) …. We’re the rabble-rousers; we’re the grassroots. We’re going to stir things up and make sure things happen.”

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