The Greening of Lawrence Township, NJ
Despite the predictions of a possible blizzard, over 125 residents of Lawrence, braved the elements to participate in The Greening of Lawrence Township, an informative and energizing public environmental forum sponsored by the Lawrence Township Community Foundation and The Lawrenceville School on Saturday, January 22, 2005. This was the start of a true community conversation on sustainability.
From the Bottom Up
Keynote speaker Sarah James, renowned planner and author of The Natural Step for Communities presented the results of community based efforts in Sweden and the US which could be replicated here in Lawrence. Ms. James stressed the importance of local government committing to systematic change by clearly defining sustainability objectives. This can be done using a bottom-up approach, in which the municipal government and community work together to become independent innovators and forces of change.
The Conversation Evolves
Mayor Pam Mount and Ralph Copleman, acting as forces of change, signed up over 70 participants at the event who were keen to continue the dialogue and address sustainability issues head on. The conversation continued at a late Spring gathering in 2005, which ultimately gave birth to the nonprofit organization Sustainable Lawrence. The newly minted Board of Directors were able to secure initial funding from local and national sponsors to continue the conversation.
One of the first acts of Sustainable Lawrence was to host a 3-day Sustainability Conference starting March 30, 2006. The conference brought together well over 100 people willing to plan an ecologically sustainable future for Lawrence Township, New Jersey. They represented every part of the community – business, education, faith, families, farming, government, neighborhoods – as well as age groups spanning seven decades.
An Agenda is Born
The 3-day conference identified a common ground agenda for the community and led to the birth of numerous task forces to begin tackling a variety of sustainability action plans. An interactive website was created to facilitate communication between participants and to communicate the long term agenda to the community. Funding from the Municipal Land Use Center at The College of New Jersey in June of 2006, along with other donations, have ensured that Sustainable Lawrence can pursue its goals for the next few years.
Many of the task forces are holding regular meetings in order to shape their vision and action plans. Others are just getting started. Each of them is currently looking for more people to contribute and become a part of a solution for our Township.
As you explore this website, we hope you will find a place in Sustainable Lawrence where your contributions can make a difference!