If you've had a conversation with me in the past last six months, or at least since I became a homeowner, then you probably know I'm on a serious mission to uncover sustainable and renewable energy options for the City of Havre de Grace (and my own home).
Just to keep readers in the loop, I've been speaking with experts on the different options available.
And what an interesting ride it's been so far.
I've been in touch with the most radical of those experts (some who believe living "off the grid" is the only way to escape big energy monopolies who are draining our pocket books) to the most grass roots organizations and experts, who say they're just normal folks looking for ways to conserve our earth's natural resources and cut back on energy costs in their humble homes.
On a local level, I've been working closely with Barbara Wagner, a member of Main Street, Inc. (who also happens to be a candidate for the upcoming city election) to tie Main Street's Green Committee with the city's newly-founded Alternative Energy Commission, which I likely will be leading.
Main Street, Inc. is a jewel to the city for many reasons, but in this case because there are may people within that organization who are interested in sustainability; and the organization has opportunities for funding through the state Main Street Program. Main Street is a valuable asset to the sustainable energy and green initiatives we are working toward for the city as a whole.
Barbara Wagner and I met with Mayor Wayne Dougherty in Tuesday morning to discuss options for forming an official commission within the city (different from Main Street's Green Committee), which would be charged with looking into sustainable energy options for residents.
The city's commission would have a representative from each department, a chair (hopefully me) and a Main Street liaison (I'm guessing that would be Barbara Wagner).
The city's commission would work closely with Main Street's committee to be sure we are researching grant opportunities and gathering as much information about potential options as we can.
The mayor was open about allowing us to leave the proposed sustainable energy commission as a grass roots group, but also gave us the option to go through a legislative process in order to make the commission official.
Dougherty himself seems interested in sustainable living, telling me he recently installed a partially solar water heater in his house, and has researched options such as wind mills and solar panels in the past.
He is, of course, aware that many residents are sensitive about our city's waterfront and our need to preserve the views of the bay to the best of our ability, when researching wind mill options.
And Dougherty isn't the only one in the city who is already taking baby step initiatives in going green. I know Bruce and Sharifa, owners of Laurrapin Grille on North Washington Street are always looking for earth-friendly and sustainable solutions to running their business. They have a solar water heater on the roof of their building and grow their own herbs for cooking. They're also committed to buy organic and local.
And there are plenty of other city residents who are getting involved in green and sustainable solutions as well.
For those who are confused as to why there will be both a committee and a commission working toward this effort: well, I can't say I fully understand why it's necessary myself.
But I do know that the Main Street sponsored committee will be researching lower level green options, such as recycling, and will follow state Main Street mandated guidelines for the committee, such as educational sessions for residents.
The city's commission (this is where I come in) will be focusing on larger-scale options, such as alternative energy like wind and solar, for residents and the city as a whole.
Even though sustainable living is certainly not a new idea, it's one that is now being embraced by more people throughout the country, possibly because of the struggling economy or just because people are waking up and realizing the world's resources will not last forever.
On a more personal note:
I truly believe this is the time to teach our future generations about the importance of protecting our earth and all of the gifts it has for us, by finding less damaging ways to live.
Instead of looking at it as a new way of living, I believe it's actually an old way of living.
In reality, we're just researching a way to go back to the basics.
I think in order to do that, we have to let go of a lot of the preconceived notions about what we need, what's most important, and how important status is to us.
Instead, we need to discover the things we really need to live comfortably.
At the risk of sounding like a complete hippie, I say we need to go back to the old mantra that less is more.
Eat, sleep, shelter, education, relationships.
And then we throw out the fluff, and see what's left.
I have a feeling we will be growing our own gardens, creating our own compost, recycling everything, and generating our own power in, well, no time.