What Is Sustainable Norcross?

Do you recycle, compost, xeriscape, use rain barrels? Would you like to learn how? Are you interested in organic and locally grown produce but cannot find it? Do you admire the fabulous tree canopy in Norcross? Ever wondered how to certify your yard as a Wildlife Habitat? Are you concerned about the quantity and quality of our water? Is it better to use paper or plastic bags at the grocery? What natural products are safe but effective? Ever considered sustainable alternatives for flooring, clothing and other products? Where can you discard old electronics?

Well, let’s learn together.

Starting a new organization can be a daunting task. Then an online training manual advised:

"Don’t wait - Get started without funding, expertise, or fear of adverse consequences.

Seek useful resources - Information on the web, in literature, in the community, in person, from experts.

Seek ways to scale up - Transform successful solutions into a movement of local significance.

Have fun projects – enjoy doing. Your efforts can result in important benefits, and you can have a good time while you’re at it!"

And that is exactly what a group of like minded citizens did. The organizational meeting was held June 1, 2008 and we've been busy ever since.

Learn more about us here on our blog or contact us now.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What We've Been Up To

It was a beautiful morning for a stream clean up. About 15 people joined Mayor Bucky and Sustainable Norcross founder Connie to clean up in and along the stream on the city owned Fickling green space that includes Ruby Pond. They picked up litter and removed invasive plants on the 5.5 acre property and adjacent tributaries as part of the annual Rivers Alive statewide waterway clean up.

Fantastic weather continued and the freshly spiffed up town center Sparkled. Fourth grade Girl Scout Troop from Simpson Elementary School placed recycle containers in historic downtown Norcross on Friday before the kick off to the holiday shopping season. Then they walked to 3 of the houses on the Holiday Tour of Homes collecting litter prior to the annual event coming Saturday December 5. The service project was part of the scouts observance of national America Recycles Day and work towards their Bronze award.

See more photos in the side bar.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Energy Efficiency Puts Money in Our Pockets


Upcoming Walton EMC Energy Seminars Put Money in Your Pocket

Contact Jennifer Broun, 770/266-2572

MONROE, Ga. - There is no better time to have a few extra dollars in your pocket than the approaching holiday season. If you learn how to lower energy use around your home, you'll have extra money all year long.

Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) is hosting a home energy seminar in the local area. Experts will show consumers how to save money and energy on heating and cooling (the largest part of an energy bill), water heating, lighting and other energy uses.

"Our energy experts have the practical knowledge to teach you easy ways to reduce your power bill," says Walton EMC's Jennifer Broun, youth and community representative. "Not only will these measures save money; they'll also make your home more comfortable."

Programs begin at 7 p.m. and run approximately 1-1/2 hours. Admission is free, but registration is required. To register or receive more information, call 770/267-5551or email Jbroun@waltonemc.com.Seminar date and location is November 24-Brookwood High School, Snellville.

Each participant will receive a gift and be entered to win door prizes. Civic and religious organizations are welcome to attend as a group. The group with the most members present at each program will receive $100 to use toward charitable activities.

Walton EMC is a customer-owned power company that serves 118,000 accounts over its ten-county service area between Atlanta and Athens.

Join others from Sustainable Norcross Tuesday November 24 at Brookwood High School, Snellville at 7 PM. RSVP. Attend, learn how to save and help earn a chance at $100 towards Sustainable Norcross volunteer activities.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

4 in 1 Results - Guest Post By Phil Robertson, Norcross Code Enforcement Supervisor

Below you will find all the final totals for our recent Clean-Up Day, Recycle and Shredding Events and Canned Food Drive held on October 24th. All four events had a great turn out and I want to thank all the staff, volunteers and participants – without all of you the success of these events would not be possible. The participants were very enthusiastic and appreciative that the City of Norcross offered these services and that we are environmentally aware.

Again, thank you everyone for your support!


Philomena M. Robertson
City of Norcross Code Enforcement Supervisor

Electronics Recycled:
• 10,951 lbs of metal, plastic, glass computer housing and peripheral equipment.
• Eighty-two (82) participants

Shredded Papers Recycled:
• 8,080 lbs of sensitive and confidential records.
• One Hundred-twenty seven (127) participants

Clean-Up Event:
• 12.67 tons of bulky items, trash, old appliances/furniture, yard debris.
• One Hundred-five (105) participants logged – not the complete count

Participating Cities (21):
• Alpharetta
• Berkeley Lake
• Buford
• Decatur
• Duluth
• Dunwoody
• Flowery Branch
• Grayson
• Johns Creek
• Lawrenceville
• Lilburn
• Loganville
• Norcross (city)
• Norcross (county)
• Peachtree Corners
• Roswell
• Sandy Springs
• Snellville
• Sugar Hill
• Suwanee
• Tucker

Added Activity to Recycle/Clean-up Day Events:
We also collected on the same day, non-perishable food items for our local food bank. Participants did not need to make a donation in order to participate in the Clean-up/Recycle Events but it was greatly appreciated. Donations of these items will be given to members of our community in need. We collected a total of 771 non-perishable food items.

Upcoming Event Dates:For 2010, the Spring Event will be held on Saturday, April 10th and the Fall Event will be held on Saturday, October 9th.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Join Us For Art Fest

As October rolls in to town, so does Art Fest and hopefully so do you. This year you may need to take a slightly different route due to the wash out of Holcomb Bridge Road (see map and directions below). But a foot or so of rain cannot dampen the volunteer spirit and community pride that brings folks together, especially for the premier event of the year, Art Fest.

Join your neighbors and make new friends by volunteering with Sustainable Norcross. Choices include:

Friday October 2, 5 – 7 PM – Assist in setting up the Art Fest Hospitality Suite recycling stations.

Saturday October 3, 7 AM - Set up informational tent for Sustainable Norcross at Art Fest at Thrasher Park, place recycle containers throughout venue.

10 AM – 6 PM Man informational tent (chat with public about Sustainable Norcross, hand out info), refresh recycle containers prior to free concert at 7:30 PM (collect full bags, replace with fresh bags, and tally contents).

Sunday October 4, 9 AM – Art Fest - Refresh recycle containers after concert from previous night.

11 AM – 5 PM - Man informational tent for Sustainable Norcross

5 PM - about 7 PM - Pack up tent, etc., collect all recycle containers, tally and store.

Sign up NOW sustainablenorcross@gmail.com

Click on article below to enlarge for details of detour around Holcomb Bridge Road to Art Fest in Historic Downtown Norcross.

How To Get To Historic Downtown Norcross

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Barrel of …

Raindrops. Just like pennies make dollars, raindrops make gallons – gallons of precious, life giving water. Free from Mother Nature. If only I could collect the raindrops and save them until I need them.

Raindrops that fall on my house produce 600 gallons of water for every 1,000 square feet of roof during a 1 inch rain. While I may not be able to harvest it all, I surely would like to capture enough to water my container plants, window boxes and shrubs. I could really put those raindrops to good use, save on my water bill, maybe get a credit on my storm water utility fee and protect the environment while I’m at it. Well that’s worth looking in to.

And thus began a quest to find affordable, practical rain barrels for my personal home use. What I found is an idea worth sharing. In fact we will be doing just that with a class at 9:30 AM Saturday September 19. We will show you how to make your very own rain barrel and by so doing will help to achieve several of the goals of Sustainable Norcross: Water Conservation, Education and Volunteerism.

If you miss this class or you are not a Do-It-Yourself kind of person, no worries. Put your name on the list here to be notified of the next class. Or order your completed rain barrel here. You can pick up your rain barrel(s) at the Sustainable Norcross tent at The Whistle Stop Farmers Market any Tuesday through October from 4 – 8 PM. Purchase several for yourself. (I have four linked together off one down spout.) And it is not too early to be thinking about gift ideas.

It is taking a village to make this possible. Well, a small army anyway. Thanks to each and every one of you for being our partner:

The Coca-Cola Company Live Positively Community Water Partnership
Bonny Putney, The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR)
Kevin Smith, Keep Forsyth County Beautiful
Karen Alexander, Raindrops Rain Barrels
Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center
Barbara and Jim Renz
Ernie Jones
City of Norcross

Sign up now for Sustainable Norcross Rain Barrel ClassSaturday

September 19
9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Lawrenceville St at Mitchell Rd beside the Fire Truck Museum

Cost $50 per barrel – Assemble your own from materials provided


Order a completed rain barrel ready to install - $60 each

Join us for a barrel of fun and take home a barrel for your rain drops.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Take

This was a twofer week. The City of Norcross had two fun, free, back–to-back city wide events. Both were well attended, assisted in part by marvelous fall weather, but mostly because of their first class content. Where else can you go on a Friday night with your honey, spread a blanket under the stars and enjoy music, a refreshing beverage or two and a little alfresco dining?

And this was followed on Saturday with an international event right up the street. Locals and visitors to historic downtown got to view some classy and classic British motor vehicles, chat up their proud owners, get a spot of tea while strolling (and shopping) and catch a bite. Kudos all around, thanks to the staff and volunteers who make these magic moments for all of us to enjoy.

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, whether it is an annual affair or a routine event. It takes the coordinated effort of many to see after all the details that ensure an enjoyable experience. And if you never really thought about it, that is in part because folks have done such a good job that you don’t have to.

But if you did stop to think about it, would you wonder what’s up with those blue contraptions with clear plastic bags and dangling signs scattered around at every event? How do they get there, what goes in them, what comes out, what happens to the contents? Inquisitive minds want to know.

All together now: “Away From Home Special Events Recycling Grant”. The turn key kit came from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs as a grant to the City via an application prepared by Sustainable Norcross. The containers and trailer to transport them are for use at public events so folks can continue their recycling habit while away from home. Volunteers managed by Sustainable Norcross place the containers at the events, retrieve them and report the contents which are then recycled with the city waste vendor, Advanced Disposal.

So what was the take this week end? The 12 recycle containers netted about 87 pounds of beverage containers. About 53 pounds were glass with the balance aluminum and plastic. There were about seven additional pounds of cardboard. Eleven different volunteers (see September 13th posting) participated at three different times over the weekend to ensure the valuable recyclables stayed out of the land fill.

This would not be possible without each of you pitching in. Thanks for tossing your empties in the recycle containers and your garbage and food scraps in the trash. It takes all of us.

If you would like to do more than Pitch In, volunteer today.

Interact Caught in the Act

Current (and future) members of Norcross High School Interact Club are caught in the act recently on Fall Planting Day at Norcross Charity Garden (see their Facebook page). They joined garden founder, Laura Laszlo and adult volunteers to harvest tomatoes, peppers, squash and pumpkins, then remove spent plants and weeds and finally, prepare and sow new beds. All produce is donated weekly to a local charity for homeless families who prepare and eat the fresh vegetables.

Norcross High School Interact Club President is Ezra Mohd Zaid and faculty sponsor is physics teacher, Mr. Robert Katz. Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 14 to 18 and their call to action is “Lead, Connect, Serve”. Locally the club is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Peachtree Corners that meets weekly in Norcross. Over the past year the Interact Club and Sustainable Norcross have worked together on several environmental initiatives that benefit the community while maintaining separate active schedules.

Seven Interact Club members distributed the special Away From Home Event Recycle containers for the Concert in the Park on Friday. A dedicated group met at 7 AM Saturday and re-located the recycle containers managed by Sustainable Norcross to historic downtown for the British Car Fayre. After the popular event another team retrieved the containers, collected data on “the take” and stored the units for the next city wide free activity.

That is The Whistle Stop Farmers Market on Tuesday from 4 – 8 PM. The festive fresh market continues through October on the street between Thrasher Park and the railroad. The Interact Club hopes to provide volunteer assistance to market vendors for unloading, setting up and packing up along with the ongoing market recycling project. And they are discussing additional volunteer opportunities in partnership with Sustainable Norcross.

Don’t let these dedicated community service oriented young people have all the fun! Join Norcross High School Interact Club and Sustainable Norcross in one of the many local volunteer opportunities this year. Imagine yourself interacting for the good of our community.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Calling All Volunteers

Summer volunteer opportunities abound. Are you looking for a family oriented activity that is free, close to home and fulfilling? Sustainable Norcross has quite a line up for you. It coincides with the fabulous calendar of activities sponsored by the City of Norcross.
The next opportunity is 2 PM tomorrow at Thrasher Park to set up recycle containers for the wildly popular and still new Whistle Stop Farmers Market. Help us collect the recycling containers after market at 8 PM. This is an ongoing volunteer opportunity every Tuesday. You can be a volunteer and still enjoy the market from 4 to 8 PM (or sell out). And be sure to drop by the pavilion tomorrow to see our rain barrel prototype. Sign up for our rain barrel class or place an advanced order to purchase a completed rain barrel. Sign up too for the Sustainable Norcross outing to the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center.
Next is the chance to set out and pick up the special event recycle containers at the first ever Cycle Show on Sunday June 28 from 1 – 7 PM in historic downtown. Meet us at 45 South CafĂ© at 10 AM and 7 PM to help and check out the cool motorcycles in between.
Kick off your Independence Day celebration at 10 AM Friday July 3 by helping set up the recycle containers at the new Lillian Webb Park at the top of the hill at Jones St. and throughout downtown for the day long celebrations. Retrieve recycle containers about 10 or 11 PM just after the fireworks. The official ribbon cutting ceremony at Lillian Webb Park is at the Gateway Plaza at 11:30 AM and city festivities start at 2 PM including live music, street artists and vendors, games and rides for the kids, plus an evening concert by our own Skin Alley Kats at the new Lillian Webb Park, and of course a grand fireworks finale.
Next the Summer Concert Series continues Friday July 17 with free music in Thrasher Park 7:30 – 9:30 PM. Help set up recycling at 4 PM and retrieve at 9:30 PM. Join volunteers for the rest of the concert schedule: July 31, August 14 and 28, September 11 and October 3.
Saturday July 25 is the Bike Fest with all day family oriented activities. We will put out recycle containers and set up an informational tent about 7 AM and clean up about 9 PM. Join us in the parade about 9 AM then help us man the tent with educational information about bike and pedestrian safety info, clean air, anti idling, etc. until noon.
Watch for classes to become certified as an Adopt-A-Stream volunteer and join us soon in a stream clean up on a city owned property.
Imagine spending some of your summer volunteering with Sustainable Norcross and enjoying all the good things going on right here at home.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Don’t Be A Litter Bug…

But help us make them. Yep, that’s the plan according to Whistle Stop Farmers Market Children’s Activities volunteer Alice Hinterschied. The pavilion in newly renovated Thrasher Park will be transformed into The Kids Corner during many of the weekly markets. Look for face painters, temporary tattoos, a petting zoo and other kid friendly activities scattered throughout the market season that runs every Tuesday from 4 until 8 PM (or sell out), through October.

The featured activity for July 28 is the making of Litter Bugs that the kiddos can take home to remind them NOT to be a Litter Bug. Jane Cunningham will be showing the young crafters how to create their own litter bugs assuming YOU help us collect enough body parts, a/k/a craft supplies. This is what we need:

Egg cartons, especially paper ones
Empty paper towel tubes
Colored tissue paper
Ribbon or sting, small or large pieces
Shredded paper, especially colored paper
Plastic wrap, especially colored
Aluminum foil, clean please
Disposable bowls (paper, aluminum or Styrofoam also clean please)
Aluminum pie pans, clean please
Cupcake papers, never used please
Coffee filters, washed and dried please

All you pack rats, recyclers, “save it for a rainy day” folks, now is your chance to repurpose those scraps and items that were just too good to throw away.

Share your stash so kids can learn about recycling and anti-littering. Simply bring your “trash” to the Sustainable Norcross tent and we will ensure it becomes part of someone’s “treasure”. Stop by with yours weekly starting Tuesday and we should have enough by Litter Bug day.

And speaking of reusing, several of the vendors have asked you bring your own containers to carry your purchases away. Previously used egg cartons are perfect for, well… eggs. Bring your reusable shopping bags or buy the special Whistle Stop Farmers Market bags at the information tent. Bring back the cardboard boxes and little baskets to the strawberry man. Use those adorable baskets you have scattered on display throughout your home.

As for not littering, please remember to use the special “Away From Home Event Recycling” containers scattered throughout the market for aluminum, plastic, cardboard, glass and paper so long as they are NOT contaminated with food or other messy stuff. Place food and other organics in the specially marked container to be composted. Please put extinguished cigarette butts in the trash instead of littering our park and streets. Be a responsible pet owner and use the newly installed pet pick up stations. And put trash in its place.

Help us Make a Litter Bug, don’t Be a Litter Bug.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Team Work or “The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.”

These thoughts come to mind as we prepare for two wonderful grand openings at one location in our community that I hope you will attend on Tuesday June 9.

The newly refurbished Thrasher Park will be officially opened with a ceremony at 6:30 PM Tuesday June 9. It has been nearly 3 years in the making with planning, public input, construction and landscaping. Come see what YOU made with your SPLOST tax dollars, thanks to the leadership of the Mayor and City Council, staff and Public Works and Utilities Director Craig Mims and his citizen advisory group, the Parks and Green Space Commission. This city oasis was designed by, Sean J. Murphy, RLA, LEED AP, certified arborist and Director of Land Planning and Landscape Architecture for Southeastern Engineering, Inc. And there are teams of other folks too numerous to mention, who made this happen.

This is the first city owned property where the “no net loss of trees” policy, “low flow plumbing”, “bike racks at public facilities” “drought tolerant landscape practices” and the innovative “Away From Home Special Events Recycling Grant” have been implemented as part of the city effort to achieve Green Community certification by the Atlanta Regional Commission. This and other green initiatives are being championed by the Sustainable Norcross Commission, citizen advisors to the city in partnership with the Tree Board and Parks and Green Space Commission.

And that leads us to the fabulous Whistle Stop Farmers Market open 4 – 8 PM (or until sell out) each Tuesday through October. By supporting and designating a space for the market, the City earns yet another initiative toward Green Community status. This is a team effort by energetic volunteers led by Tixie Fowler and fully supported by the volunteers of Sustainable Norcross and Sustainable Peachtree Corners. Besides being a place to purchase seasonal fresh locally grown food, specialty items, plants, etc. this is the place to be for fun activities, demonstrations and visiting with your neighbors.

And speaking of neighbors, join us Tuesday 4:30 - 6:30 for the Ice Cream Social sponsored by Norcross Neighbors and Mojitos. Enjoy music from neighbor and Mayor Bucky Johnson and the Jazz Lites starting at 5:30.

Remember to arrive early for the best selection, but plan to stay for a fun packed experience.

Come celebrate Team Work and Volunteerism in Norcross, a place to imagine where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

Please excuse anyone left out. With such a great list of partners it is bound to happen, but rest assured it is not intentional.

To recap:


4:30 - 6:30 - ICE CREAM SOCIAL

5:30 - LIVE MUSIC Mayor Bucky Johnson and the Jazz Lites


The Results Are In

And we like them!

The City recently held a Three in One Recycling Day and it was an overwhelming success thanks to people like YOU.

City of Norcross Code Enforcement Supervisor Phil Robertson and team really did it up right. 81 participants of Electronics Recycling kept 7,510 pounds of old computers, fax machines, printers, phones, etc. out of the landfill.

The City Wide Neighborhood Clean Up Day netted 17.56 TONS of bulky items such as old furniture and trash, yard debris and 1,800 pounds of regular household recyclables. Over 90 Norcross residents participated, some making more than 1 trip.

This was the first offering of the Shred It Event and it was wildly popular, filling up the entire huge truck with 8,865 pounds of shredded personal paper documents from over 120 participants. We knew we had a hit on our hands when 8 vehicles lined up 30 minutes prior to the official start time. There was no more room in the truck by an hour before quitting time. Plans are to add a second truck to the next Shred It event scheduled for October 24.

Thank you for your generous support of our local food pantry at Cooperative Ministy by donating 4 large boxes of non-perishable edibles.

10 volunteers, most from Sustainable Norcross, joined 6 community service workers and 6 city employees to provide this service for the community. The E-cyle and Shred It Events were open to the public and attracted people from 24 cities including Cumming, Duluth, Peachtree Corners and the greater Norcross area and as far away as Flowery Branch.

Seizing Opportunities and Fulfilling the Promise

Yes, I’ve been neglecting the blog. So sorry, but I have been out seizing opportunities and fulfilling the promise of spring. I had no idea there would be so many…

So even though the heat of summer is upon us, let’s pause and reflect on our recently departed spring.

Sustainable Norcross and Sustainable Peachtree Corners cemented their relationship with planning meetings almost weekly right up until the start of the late Spring CSA season on May 27. They participated in the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center Lunch and Learn for home schoolers in March. Cross promotion that has brought new faces to the table is another product of their collaboration. This includes brand new community gardens. Founders of the two groups serve on the Whistle Stop Farmers Market planning committee and share a tent at the market. Look for “the Sustainables” most weeks and especially on June 23 with a rain barrel and water conservation display.

Sustainable Norcross Commission has been working with the City and County to achieve points towards Green Community certification by the Atlanta Regional Commission. They also field questions and supply educational information as requested. These joint efforts were the subject of an article, “Norcross Is Greening Up” in the Georgia Sierra Club magazine by Greater Gwinnett Chapter President Tom Morrissey. The group also submits an article for the city monthly newsletter.

Sustainable Norcross became a Georgia non-profit corporation and opened a bank account. These are steps towards becoming an IRS tax exempt 501 (c) 3 organization. Thanks to Kim Civins and Bryan Cave Powell Goldstein for their pro bono assistance. And yes, we accept financial contributions.

In March Sustainable Norcross held an Open House to introduce many of their initiatives. The
Away From Home Event Recycling kit was especially featured and is available to qualified community groups to use at their events.

Sustainable Norcross volunteers manage the kit at city sponsored events. Have you noticed how many of those there are? The City has a great line up.
Contact us to volunteer for this important ongoing project.

A meeting of Sustainable Norcross Inc. was presented by a
Chamblee Community Wildlife Habitat volunteer leader who informed members on how to get their own Backyard Wildlife Habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation.

Volunteers from Sustainable Norcross recently assisted the City with the very successful Three in One Recycling Events for electronics, paper shredding and bulky items. Other partnerships are developing to achieve common goals.

A field trip to Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center is in the works. A class to make your own rain barrel is also in the planning stages.
Adopt–A-Stream Training is coming up. All are outgrowths of interest expressed by participants like you.

Join us now. Seize the opportunities. Fulfill the promise of summer.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

After The Cold Dark Winter Comes The Tantalizing Promise of Spring

My chocolate lab Bosco and I were out digging in the dirt today. Both of us were loving it after experiencing cabin fever from the recent cold, wintry, snowy, slushy days. Yes, they had a beauty and special-ness of their own, but I really like Spring. It is my favorite time of the year. Even if this turns out to be just a tease, and we revert to more cold weather before Spring is here to transition us to Summer, I will seize the opportunity these spring-like days bring.

What about you? There are many opportunities to seize. Opportunities to do something different. Opportunities to start afresh, change course, learn a new way. Opportunities to make a difference, do something worthwhile, be a part of your community. Sustainable Norcross and sibling organizations offer many such opportunities close to home.

Friday March 13 from 11 – 1 attend the Lunch and Learn “Food for Thought” at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center (GEHC). Find out what Sustainable Norcross, The Whistle Stop Farmer’s Market and Sustainable Peachtree Corners are up to.

Join your neighbors and friends at the Sustainable Norcross Open House on Monday March 23 from 7 – 9 PM at Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center Ballroom (NCACC). Learn how your organization can borrow the new Away From Home Event Recycling bins to prevent waste from going to landfills. Find out about sustainable initiatives you can implement at home, work and play. Discover what your City is doing to become a certified Green Community. Volunteer for service projects that enhance our environment. Explore topics you’d like to know more about or share your expertise.

Sign up now for The Sustainable Pantry class at Dunwoody Nature Center on Saturday March 28 from 10-12 taught by Sustainable Peachtree Corners Founder Robin Fosdick.
For just one hour on Saturday March 28 from 8:30 to 9:30 PM participate in Earth Hour. Turn off all possible lights to save energy and demonstrate what one small action by many people working together can do to help save the planet.

Monday March 30 from 10:45 – 12 Save Money and Go Green at the local YMCA as the Sustainable U series continues, presented by Sustainable Peachtree Corners.

Saturday April 18 assist with recycling at the Corners to Crossing Road Race, Musicfest and Street Dance. To volunteer contact sustainablenorcross@gmail.com.

Friday April 24 help Sustainable Norcross provide a display and event recycling at City Hall as the city participates in Georgia Cities Week and Earth Day activities.

Attend Sustainable Norcross Open House at NCACC on Monday April 27, 7 - 9 PM featuring Event Recycling and other sustainable actions and activities just for you.

So many opportunities. And this just gets us through April and the promise of Spring.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

You Are Invited

Yep, it’s time for our Open House/Birthday Bash/New Year/Coming - Out Party, as promised.

Please join us on Monday March 23 at Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center (NCACC) in the ballroom from 7 – 9 PM. Help Sustainable Norcross celebrate our first, and very active, year of working together “preserving our future by living smarter today”.

We especially hope to see those of you who plan events for your civic group, school, house of worship, youth, community or other local organization. Learn how to reserve and use the special equipment available from the City through the Away From Home Event Recycling Grant award. Be part of the solution that offers a convenient way to continue your participants’ recycling habit while away from home. Keep pounds of materials out of the landfills and in to new products that we use everyday. Do more than imagine Norcross a sustainable city, help make it happen! Come see how.

Recycling is not the only path to the triple bottom line benefits that occur when concern for people, planet and profit intersects. Although the topic of recycling and waste reduction is one of the top two areas of interest identified by early participants in Sustainable Norcross. And because of that, at the Open House we will be showcasing some additional ways to reduce waste and increase recycling. But we will also be giving sneak previews of other initiatives.

The other area in the top two is your interest in our food supply. Having a safe, local, ever renewing, fresh, convenient supply of healthy food choices is right up there on your list. And with recent food supply contamination issues again in the news, it’s a great time to join us as we explore alternatives.

And even though you don’t eat grass (directly) (I hope), come find out about the 1000 Healthy Lawns Challenge with our sibling organization Sustainable Peachtree Corners. Together we can have a huge impact on the air we breathe, the drinking water supply, the indirect food chain and our personal indoor and outdoor environments by reducing our pesticide use. Come see how lady bugs are leading the way.

Learn what’s on tap. Help prepare for upcoming City sponsored events. Be a part of the partnership to become certified by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) as a Green Community. Come make a difference. And par-dee with us.

Oh, and do remember to donate your unopened party paper goods for us to use at this and future Sustainable Norcross events. See the January 30 posting on this blog. Contact sustainablenorcross@gmail.com for drop off locations.

Par-dee Par-dee. Par-dee!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Second Born!

Three short weeks after my son’s birthday, and it is time to celebrate my daughter’s anniversary of arrival. No, it was not the shortest pregnancy on record. Their births are three years PLUS three weeks apart. And even though they are siblings they are very different people.

There is the obvious: one is male, the other female. But they are different in many other ways. He takes after my side of the family in appearance while she favors her dad’s family. She is the indoors type, he’s the outdoors type. He is married with three kids, she is a career woman. Like all siblings, they are first and foremost, individuals.

Just like Sustainable Norcross Inc. and Sustainable Norcross Commission. Both are branches of the same family tree. The Triple Bottom Line tenets of Sustainability are in the DNA of each. Both are grassroots organizations made up of volunteers just like you. They are both new with less than a year in their timelines, yet each has some noteworthy milestones. Their lives intertwine and intersect just like in any family. But first and foremost, they are individuals.

Sustainable Norcross Inc. is the first born. We kicked around other names. “Imagine Norcross Going Green” to coincide with the city’s new marketing campaign, “Norcross a Place to Imagine”. Or “Norcross Green Guild” with a nod to the Green Guild at Vickery, the EarthCraft Homes development by Hedgewood Properties in Cumming.

But somehow the other names just did not fit for us. Heather Royston suggested a substitute for green which has turned out to be the word on everyone’s lips. Sustainable. Sustainable Norcross. Imagine Norcross a Sustainable City. By George, I think we’ve got something!

Well what in the Sam Hill is “Sustainable”? Quick, tell me in 25 words or less. This Native American Proverb sums it up pretty well: “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children.” Huh? That didn’t help? Sustain-ability: meeting the needs of the present without depleting or harming resources for future generations. Being able to maintain indefinitely, for example, by regenerating more than we consume.

Our volunteers brainstormed what “sustainability” means to them. Words like future, smart, living, preservation, conservation, replacement, consumption, independence, reuse were listed. And voila, we had our mission statement and tag line: “preserving our future by living smarter today”.

So how did all of this spawn two offspring? We believe strongly that we need to lead by example. We, the people, as individuals and collectively. But how? I have these rain barrels, but how exactly do I connect them to my downspouts to capture life sustaining water for my vegetables and landscape? Want to come over and see my backyard wildlife habitat? Well maybe we can exchange information and expertise. Share. Learn. Inspire. Do.

Well, that is what Sustainable Norcross Inc. is all about. The volunteers, regular meetings, informative programs, traditional civic organization stuff. And everyone is invited. See the calendar for upcoming opportunities. www.sustainablenorcross.org

What about the city? Shouldn’t it lead by example? Surely it is in a unique position to show us how it is done. Make it possible to recycle when we are away from home as naturally as we do at home, whether we are employees of the city or attendees at city sponsored events. Install low flow toilets when new or replacement fixtures are called for in city buildings. After all, we taxpayers pay for the fixtures and the water consumed by them.

How do we help that happen, communicate what you are telling us, get answers to your questions, share information we have learned but might not be top of mind of city leaders and staff? Enter the five member Sustainable Norcross Commission appointed by the Mayor and City Council in November 2008. Their purpose is to advise the City regarding sustainability and environmental matters through development of a measured sustainable city plan and regular communication. http://www.norcrossga.net/boards-profile.php?ID=15

Siblings: offspring with the same origins, but each unique and distinctly individual and equally treasured.

Happy Birthday, Wendy!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Part 2 - You Gotta Look Where You’ve Been to Know Where You’re Going

After our long look back a day or so ago, it’s time to peer through the windshield, crank up the ole GPS and try to figure our where we are going and especially how we are gonna get there.

During our organizational meetings last year we mainly tackled some of the basic housekeeping details such as who, what, when, where, how and why. We did a pretty thorough job on the who, what and why. When is often a result of what. And…Who’s on first?

Back up a minute. Let’s try that again in plain English. Sustainable Norcross members participated in several brainstorming sessions sharing what is important to them; things they would like to learn about and do, expertise they are willing to share. All of that was distilled into the Goals of the organization, using categories found in the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Green Communities Certification Check List http://www.atlantaregional.com/documents/env_green_comm_checklist_102208.xls
the City of Norcross 2030 Comprehensive Plan http://www.norcrossga.net/page.php?page_ID=1186086012 and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Quality Community Objectives. http://www.dca.state.ga.us/development/PlanningQualityGrowth/programs/downloads/PQGAssessment.pdf That is our “What”.

We will focus our attention and efforts in the resulting areas. To figure out exactly what and how, we will use some guidelines.

So Guideline #1: Stick to our knitting! Things that the group decides to tackle must fit in one of these categories. Don’t worry, they are very inclusive.

Which leads me to Guideline #2: Narrow down. We have wonderfully creative and diverse people involved. No doubt if turned loose we will come up with a million and one exciting and productive things to do in these categories. But to actually stand a chance of getting somewhere that we want to be and to maintain our sanity during the trip, we must choose wisely.

Guideline #3: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Let’s not waste our energy and other precious resources creating from scratch something that already exists. Lucky for us that tool is available. It is a road map. A play book. A manual. (See http://www.atlantaregional.com/documents/env_green_comm_manual_010709.pdf
) It guides us straight to certification as a Green Community. This coveted designation is becoming a recognized measure of success among municipalities specifically in the 10 county metropolitan Atlanta area. Although similar programs are popping up all over the country. And this is year one for the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) award. We could be among the first at the award ceremony in the fall.

Guideline # 4: Pick low hanging fruit. Based on my height, I am hard pressed to pick anything but. So we will be concentrating on the quick successes, the easy wins – those checklist items that we can reasonably accomplish and document by June 30. I know, I know, that is only five months away. But don’t you get more done when you have a deadline?

Guideline #5: Divide and conquer. We have divided the 10 categories among the 5 Sustainable Norcross Commission members. Each has been challenged to become the Champion of their categories. That means they will be the drivers of activity, the conduit of information between the interested parties related to that topic. It does not mean they have all the fun; just that they become the funnel.

The “Funnels” stack up like this:

Trees and Green Space, Recycling and Waste Reduction – Kathy Nau

Green Building, Energy Efficiency – Heather Royston

Green Power, Land Use – Chuck Cimarik

Water Use Reduction and Efficiency, Education – Jim Scarbrough

Transportation and Air Quality, Innovation – Connie Weathers

Guideline #6: It Takes A Village. Not just to raise a child, but to grow an organization. Each and every one is important and necessary for the success of our endeavor.

Exactly which endeavor was that again? This journey that we all started together on June 1, 2008. The drive toward preserving our future by living smarter today.

Load up!

Watch for details of our first general meeting (par-dee) in 2009.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Speaking of Birthday Bashes…

What do you do with those leftover party things? You know, the extra napkins, plates, cups, silly hats, party favors, etc?

Well, I keep them. You never know when they might come in handy. Waste not; want not. Never mind that there are not enough to actually use for the next similar social gathering. And more than likely I won’t be able to find more just like them to purchase enough to cover the guest list. Or gasp, what if someone notices that I am using the same theme or color scheme as last year?

And I’m not just talking about birthday stuff. Around here at our ages, we try to let those days just slid on by with as little attention drawn to them as possible. I mean all those special occasion paper goods. The Halloween napkins, New Year’s hats and noise makers, Super Bowl XXVIII plates, Star Wars stuff. You get the picture. Are you tired of holding on to them? But they are too good to throw out? And besides you can’t throw them out cuz your new year’s resolution is to contribute less to landfills.

Boy, do we have an opportunity for you! Sustainable Norcross is planning an “open house/birthday bash/new year/coming out party”. Being a non-profit grassroots organization, and a new one at that, we have nothing, zero, Nada. In the way of material possessions and money to acquire them, that is. We are rich in other ways. And you have all those perfectly good party things just looking for a good time.

So how about you donate your unused party stuff to us? And we will be sure to say “Thanks” to YOU at our upcoming social. The items must still be sealed in original packaging for us to use. No product recalls or health scares for us. And won’t you feel good knowing you found a good use for all that stuff you have squirreled away?

Now, we could go with an eco-friendly party like room mom Robin Fosdick did at her daughter’s fall school event. She challenged herself to plan and recruit other parents to help her provide a zero-waste party. And they came pretty darn close with almost nothing sent to the landfill! Wow! http://www.sustainablepeachtreecorners.com/2008/10/whats-in-box.html
Or we could buy biodegradables, non-toxic inks, locally produced, etc. But we have no money. L :(

This is a different kind of challenge that may actually be new to some: Use what you’ve got. Make do with less. Let go of things cluttering up your space. Look at things in a new light. Rethink. Repurpose. Reuse. Reduce. And then Recycle.

If you have some party items that you wish to contribute just email
sustainablenorcross@gmail.com. We’ll figure out a way to get them from you. Maybe even set up a drop off point to make it convenient for everyone.

Remember the items must be unused and still sealed in original packaging.

Then watch for your invitation. We’re having a par-dee!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You Gotta Look Where You’ve Been to Know Where You’re Going

Well, not technically. Especially nowadays when you just set your GPS to start from wherever you are and move forward. But it does help every now and again to look at where you have been in order to better chart where you want to be and how to get there. And what better time than January? A new year, fresh opportunities, renewed optimism that all things are possible…

Oops, STOP RIGHT THERE. That’s one of my weaknesses. My eyes are bigger than my stomach. I tend to take on more than I can shake a stick at. Some of you know what I mean. Meryl Wilkerson, are you reading this? Can you believe I am actually admitting it?

So I need your help. Yes, YOU. Let me lay out where we’ve been and YOU help figure out where we are going and how we can get there. You can be my GPS, Global Positioning System for Sustainable Norcross, that is.

So far (since June 1, 2008 I might add) you have:

*Chosen a name

*Crafted a mission statement and objective

*Decided on goals

*Selected a custom designed logo (Thanks millions, Mike Lorey!)

*Applied for and earned the Away From Home Event Recycling grant for the city July through September (Thank you to former City Manager Warren Hutmacher for allowing us to imagine Norcross a recycle city, and Joe Dunlop of Georgia Department of Community Affairs for helping us navigate the process and having a grant to shoot for.)

*Recruited Julie Foster in July as Sustainable Norcross liaison to Tixie Fowler’s local and organic farmers’ market team. They are “The Incredibles”!

*Conducted beta tests and dress rehearsals of Event Recycling at the City’s July 3 Celebration (appreciate your assistance Craig Mims, John Davis, Jennifer Francis and City Pubic Works Department), September 5 Concert in the Park (fabulous Rip Robertson, just fabulous), September 6 British Car Fayre (Edna Berkshire thanks for welcoming us) and first annual Hopewell Healthy Living 5K on September 27 (Paisha Girtmon and Dr. Ben Pennington, you put on a quality event)

*Presented programs to Norcross Garden Club’s morning and evening groups in September (Carol Edwards and Amanda Gainer, thanks for inviting us. The gasoline money went to defray SN expenses.)

*Printed business cards in time for mingling at Norcross Business Association September meeting. (Chuck Paul, thanks for letting us visit.)

*Introduced our website (Way to go Amanda Gainer! Nearly 500 hits and they are not all from me, really.)

*Rolled out Event Recycling at the premier annual event, Norcross Art Fest held October 4 and 5 (Art Fest Organizers, thanks for having faith in us. Alice Hinterschied, the Hospitality Suite rocked! Robert Katz, volunteer wrangler at Norcross High is also the GC&B contact, Interact Sponsor and yes, most importantly, teacher. And you SN volunteers who made all this happen, you are awesome!)

*Participated at Art Fest with an informational booth and celebration of Recycling and Waste Reduction, including an official City proclamation (Thank you, Mayor Bucky Johnson. Hey Buster, the Brown Thrasher a/k/a Anthony Kontaxis, have you recovered yet? Art “Captain Recycle II” Geist, you are a hoot!)

*Designed our first T-shirt for active volunteers, underwritten by Advanced Disposal and the original caped crusader, Captain Recycle Steve Edwards.

*Supplied volunteers to assist in the city sponsored Electronics Recycling Day October 11 (Phil Robertson you read our minds by adding this for our citizens.)

*Conducted Rivers Alive Stream Clean Up on October 18 at city owned Johnson-Dean Park (Andrea Ward, I couldn’t have survived without you! Kyle Evens, Webelos Scouts and dads of Alpharetta and Milton, thanks for reminding us that Community is bigger than our city limits.)

*Spun off a group of volunteers to work on a sustainability advisory panel to the city which achieved official city designation November 2 as Sustainable Norcross Commission (Thumbs up Chuck Cimarik, Kathy Nau, Heather Royston, Jim Scarbrough and Connie Weathers.)

*Started accepting donations in October of aluminum cans and other metals which are recycled for cash to fund organizational expenses. (To Power Engineering’s Belinda Fleming, our inaugural and monthly donor, thanks. What a great idea!)

*Started accepting donations in January of used ink and toner cartridges to recycle and credit toward SN purchases at Office Depot. (First contributor and SN volunteer Andrew Hixson of Streetsmart, a division of RBC knows one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.)

*Received first official cash donation in December in honor of active member Bill Posey. (Generosity squared.)

*Joined Sustainable Peachtree Corners in January in the 1000 Healthy Lawns Challenge. (Robin Fosdick, Judy Knight and Karen Ford, don’t show us up too bad.)

*Debuted blog on January 27 (Will wonders never cease?)

*And today January 29 announced the 2008 Volunteers of the Year: Barbara and Jim Rentz. Otherwise we’d have to list you in nearly every bullet above. Can we clone you?

And I am surely forgetting something and more importantly some-body. Please forgive me. Although I’m saving a few of you for future postings.

Collectively YOU are a mighty force of energy to be channeled for the good.

What I see in the rearview mirror looks pretty darn impressive!

Let’s talk about where we are going next time.

Happy Birthday!

January 28, 19 something, something did not begin like any other day. My water broke and we were on the way to the hospital for the birth of our first child. Thus started the amazing journey of parenthood - an odd mix of joy and pain, discovery, new beginnings and a whole new world of possibilities.

Today on my son’s birthday I cannot help but think of the parents, OK the mother especially, of the octuplets. Can you even imagine? Think of how many people will become an integral part of the lives of these 8 kids and their parents in the coming years. It took a team of 46, well 48 if you count the parents, just to bring them in to the world. Nannies and neighbors, teachers, soccer coaches, ballet instructors, Scout leaders, preachers, politicians, public safety personnel, bus drivers, well the list is endless of who will be needed to help raise these kids. It really takes a village but the outcome is worth it.

All this birthin’ babies stuff has me musing about how similar the experience is to bringing a new organization like Sustainable Norcross in to the world. I cannot really say when the idea was conceived, but the organizational meeting was held June 1, 2008, a birthday of sorts. 16 people were in attendance and many more sent well wishes. Since that time our baby has grown like Topsy.

In less than eight short months all these wonderful people have pitched in to give our baby a name, the sound foundation of a mission, goals and priorities, and then has quickly gotten down to business. We discovered the top two areas of interest among the participants are recycling/waste reduction and improving the local food supply. Sustainable Norcross earned a grant for the city that includes special recycling containers and a trailer to transport them to events. Volunteers successfully implemented their use at the fabulous Art Fest in October.

Sustainable Norcross devotees have actively participated in the planning of the Whistle Stop Farmers’ Market that is coming to town June 2 and each Tuesday through out the summer and early fall. There is lots of excitement about this first for Norcross and you will be hearing more about it as the time nears.

Early on we realized that we were not alone. Unbeknownst to us at the time we selected our name, other little Sustainables were being christened: Sustainable Dunwoody http://www.sustainabledunwoody.com/, Sustainable Peachtree Corners http://www.sustainablepeachtreecorners.com/ and Sustainable Alpharetta http://www.sustainablealpharetta.com/. All parented by truly amazing people.

Godmother to us all is Pattie Baker. She got the whole blog ball rolling and has molded us in to a loose family called the Sustainable North Atlanta Alliance http://sustainablenorthatlantaalliance.tumblr.com/. Thanks to my neighbor and former Peachtree Corners resident Julie Foster, we discovered triplets, Robin Fosdick, Judy Knight and Karen Ford. Well OK, they are not really birth triplets, rather co-creators of Sustainable Peachtree Corners. Incidentally Karen really is the mother of triplets. And where would we be without Logo Man, Mike Lorey, graphic artist, masters degree student, gardener, husband, oh and in his spare time Sustainable Alpharetta blogger. We have him to thank for taking our multiple goals and creating the great logo for Sustainable Norcross.

By November Sustainable Norcross Commission was officially named as a citizen advisory board to the Norcross City Council. These five folks have been busy, so stay tuned.

And I’m not even getting in to the Hopewell Healthy Living Run, Rivers Alive Stream Clean Up, Electronics Recycling Day, informational booth at Art Fest, meetings, well, you get the idea.

So I’m thinking it is time to celebrate our new beginnings and milestones with an open house. Get all our volunteers and supporters back together after our holiday break. Yeah, after a busy but satisfying fall we all needed some time off. It is time to talk over our aspirations for our baby and get our eyes back on the prize. Our toddler is ready for a Birthday Bash!

Watch the calendar at www.sustainablenorcross.org for details.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mike!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Begin at the Beginning…Or Not!

Frankly, I don’t know where to begin. This is my first blog, but my grandchildren and others are dragging me kicking and screaming into the 21st century. “You can do it! It’s easy. Just say what comes in to your head. Keep it real.” Uh oh, they have no idea what they are in for.

So I’ve finally summoned the courage (or taken leave of my senses) enough to give it a whirl and start a blog about our new grassroots group Sustainable Norcross. Hummm, now where to begin?

My late mother would advise, “Just begin at the beginning.” My late father, being a sometimes journalist would say “Get to the Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why of the matter.” My creative sister would jump right in the middle and talk about the relationships and off beat stuff. She’s the one who travels and never visits the tourist highlights but gets holiday cards from all over. My fiscally conservative accountant brother would counsel that the numbers tell the story. But me, what do I say? Surely I have a little bit of all my family in me.

Well, I say my favorite dining venue is the covered dish supper. You may call it a pot luck dinner or something else. But I cannot resist a little taste of everything, especially when each cook has prepared their specialty to share. And based on my age, and the sage advice of those who arrived ahead of me, I may even go for the dessert first!

So let me share something sweet with you. This whole sustainable city thing is really taking off! I have been pleasantly surprised at the number and quality of volunteers who have given so much, the service projects completed and the warm reception of our municipal government, neighbors and even strangers. It is thrilling and down right inspirational to discover so many like minded people, capable and energetic, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, generous and focused; people who get things done and share the vision of preserving our future by living smarter today. People like you.

And it has all happened in really short order. But rest assured there is plenty more on the menu. Join me here from time to time or check out
www.sustainablenorcross.org. Together these e-tools will give you a good glimpse into our sweet beginnings and the flavor of things to come.