Sustainable Communities Network Quarterly Meeting Minutes – December 2014

Minutes Sustainable Communities Network December 4, 2014


Present: John Conrad, Carol Kasimor, Ria Hull, Linda Stoll, Catherine Neiswender, Kathy Thunes, Liz Williams, Jerry Wittman, Roger Kanitz, Jim Resick and Aimee Niendorf.


Roger distributed invoices for SCN website maintenance services. Payments are due by end of year.


Liz reported for tree ordinance group which includes also Roger, Carol and Kathy. Two handouts of materials summarizing ordinances were distributed, also found on our website. Liz also demonstrated the links to communities found on SCN website. One finding from Roger is that ordinances range greatly in terms of depth and scope. Kathy suggested a good ordinance is one that is tied to goals specific to the community. Too much specific detail (e.g. tree species) can quickly make an ordinance obsolete. Other issues addressed in ordinances include species diversity, nuisance trees, invasive trees, and others.


Next step proposed is to reach out to urban forestry managers. Foresters group meets quarterly. Suggested approach is for us to offer to be of service, and to not be overbearing with recommendations. Kimberly Miller will help SCN broach meeting idea to foresters; Kim now works for UWEX 100% time. Stoll suggested that Hortonville “tree education trail” group be invited to present to SCN meeting, group present agreed to this. Also suggested we develop a sustainable indicator for urban tree canopy. John Conrad reported that Greenville places urban forestry under Parks & Recreation Department, but with an urban forestry citizen committee to advise. Discussion on “commons” idea consisting of community orchards including fruit and nut trees, that whole community could pick from. Aimee observed that the ordinance summaries are good discussion starters, serving as examples of what is doable. Catherine and whole group thanked the tree ordinance committee for its work.


Catherine distributed summary of sustainability indicators brainstorming by group that also included Kathy, Liz and Linda. Linda reported that Life Study group is interested in SCN’s work, as may affect future Life Studies’ format. Attached SCN list shows those existing measures in Fox Valley (in black) and those from other areas proposed for inclusion in Fox Valley (in red).


Question: how would/could we use the sustainability indicators summary? Kathy suggested a narrative report may be prepared by each SCN community using these measures. Ria suggests their use in comprehensive plans. “Who will collect the data” is not clear, but some is available as secondary data and others can be collected by local governments. Jim asked about potential expenditures on indicators project, to be funded by Lahti book tour revenues. Linda suggested using measures to lay out a template or communication piece in public reporting on sustainability progress; we need a “marketing piece” for SCN. Good benchmark reporting examples are available from Dubuque, IA plus others which are “very visual” – these could be used as part of a display. Jim raised idea of “balanced scorecard” report using national standards that Kathy and group found. John suggested these measures/visuals may comprise a total SCN group effort over the coming months.


Discussion ensued on presenting the summary in final form to our constituent communities. Linda suggested finding out from Life Study coordinating group how much it is willing to document first, and then approaching municipalities about collecting the rest of the data. Kathy requests feedback from each sustainability board, especially on the recommended additions to sustainability indicators. Aimee offered that local groups have various filters through partners of interest groups present eg. social justice group at UW-O. See and for “Fox Cities” and “Oshkosh” Life Study regional summaries. Ask ourselves “which of our suggested sustainability indicators are most likely to drive change?” Next step is to request feedback from communities, then approach Margie Weiss of LIFE coordinating group with pared down list of indicators. Linda reminded group that all grant applications for Community Foundation of FV ask “how does your proposal support at least one of the goals of LIFE Study?”


Kathy reported on WRAP plastic film and bag project. The work group took educational posters to some of the target businesses. Some businesses don’t return our calls. Others that received posters don’t display them prominently. Group will continue working on distribution, evaluate progress, and report back to SCN. Aimee reported that a UW-O student group is seeking its own plastic bag/film baler to make money.


Sharing around the table occurred. Roger asked if we can use Tri-County Recycling guide, for example by handing it out at community events. Kathy reported that City of Menasha has turned down proposed budget change than would have authorized more than the current one recycling collection every four weeks. Jim reported on SCN display as “work in progress,” and solicited additional graphics from SCN members.


Next meeting set for March 5, 2015, 3:00 p.m., hopefully at Greenville Town Hall.


Meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.



Respectfully submitted by Jim Resick

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