Sustainable Communities Network Quarterly Meeting Minutes – June 2016

Sustainable Communities Network

June 2, 2015

Evergreen Credit Union

Attending: Roger Kanitz, Carol Kasimor, Kathy Thunes, Aimee Niendorf, John Conrad, Jeanine Knapp

March 11, Minutes Review

Reviewed points from the March 11 meeting including: a common project would inspire people to attend meetings, people want to continue and would like participation with businesses.

Round Table Discussion


Aimee Niendorf provided an update on changes at UW-O and reported that her role will be in the finance area with the Campus Sustainability Council. She will no longer be attending these meetings.

Niendorf did also share about student engagement efforts in the community. We discussed the City of Oshkosh information day that included student reports. Those topics include; beekeeping, energy efficiency in multi-family buildings, and native landscaping with detention ponds.  One recent project on campus was the Real Food Challenge and the focus was on how to present local and sustainably grown food to students in the cafeteria so they would be more likely to choose those options.

Students are available for project work when the project is time bound to a semester and is cleanly laid out. Niendorf will provide us with the link to the student project information including their research, a vendor name for their e-recycling, and video link from UW-O Earth Week.

City of Neenah

Carol Kasimor discussed the City of Neenah plan and the Sustainability Committee status. Projects  on the horizon now include: support at the Farmer’s Market, Bike Friendly Community, and mason bees. There is an ordinance about mason bees in the City with direction to move towards honeybees. An effort discussed in the City is to use the Farmer’s Market for education about beekeeping and develop some method to gather public response towards beekeeping.

One item on the plan is “Carbon Footprint Reduction”.  Jeanine Knapp shared about the EPA Portfolio Manager and the group discussed it as one tool for building specific monitoring and tracking. Evergreen Credit Union was just named the 2015 Energy Star Battle of the Buildings winner for water use reduction in the Bank Branch category. Here is a link to more information about Portfolio Manager:

Town of Greenville

John Conrad with the Town of Greenville discussed storm water planning in the Town and the idea of developing neighborhood rain gardens or bio retention swales.

Niendorf asked if there was any discussion about doing a cooperative solar buy in any of the communities. She also shared that in WI renewables are required to be about 12% of the total energy mix for state and the most recent wind buy was from a project in Iowa, rather than from a renewable project in-state.

Kathy Thunes shared that the River Heath project is a geothermal installation placed under the river that both heats and cools the buildings.

City of Menasha

Roger Kanitz and Thunes discussed the City of Menasha as a Tree City. There is some renovation of one of the primary entrances to the City on Racine St. and an opportunity with that renovation to plant more trees and a concern with public/private right of way for tree plantings.

Kanitz talked about Buckthorn removal as critical at the early growth stage and a need for a type of civilian Buckthorn Corps. To do the removal, rather than relying on paid staff to do this essential work.

Thunes brought up the City of Menasha playground build on June 4 and the group discussed how best to get information out to those that might be interested in an activity or event.

Kanitz presented information about the Climate Conversation that took place at Heckrodt in February and the goal of sharing information and engagement opportunities more widely.


Information channels to best reach people is also a concern. It seems like Information needs to be communicated 10 different ways to reach people. Among the group present, email is the most universally used and usage varied for social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Cooperative Project Ideas

Ideas from the City of Neenah, that could be considered common projects, include:

  • Transportation
  • Bicycling
  • Water Quality
  • Community Gardens
  • Beekeeping
  • Lighting
  • Education Efforts


Evergreen Credit Union Tour

Knapp offered a building tour and shared information about Evergreen Credit Union’s efforts with environmental responsibility and recent awards and recognitions. Efforts include on-site solar energy to meet up to 85% of electricity demand, zero waste operations including on-site composting, participation with the Trex Community Challenge with Fox Crossing/Town of Menasha. Recent awards include EPA Battle of the Buildings Winner for water use reduction in the bank branch category and the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Earth Day Award for Sustainable Leadership in Small Business was awarded to the credit union’s President/CEO in May.

Next meeting:  September 1 at East Central WI Regional Planning Commission, 3:00 -4:30.

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