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.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vote for a Hero

You don't have to save a person from a burning building to be a hero. At least, not according to the Cox Conserves Heroes program. This is the third year the communications conglomerate has searched its service areas for unsung heroes who volunteer to “help create, preserve or enhance outdoor places for everyone to enjoy”. In the Atlanta viewing area, the program is co-sponsored by WSB-TV and The Trust for Public Land. Five finalists have been selected from the nominations received from the public. Those five volunteers are now vying for the top prize of $5,000 via online voting. The four other finalists will receive $1,250 each. All prize money goes to the environmental non-profit chosen by each of the five finalists. One of the finalists is Connie Weathers. Connie founded Sustainable Norcross, Inc. a non-profit environmental advisory and action group focused on innovative solutions and education regarding Trees and Greenspace, Land Use, Green Building, Recycling and Waste Reduction, Transportation and Air Quality, Water, Energy, and Green Power. Vote NOW for Connie and Sustainable Norcross.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Closing the Loop

We came full circle Wednesday, thanks to students and staff from Wesleyan High School and a bunch of other folks along the way. Volunteers from the school were at Norcross Community Garden as part of their annual Serve-His Day. Twelve students and two staff spent the school day in a variety of chores to benefit the recently relocated community garden. They removed kudzu and other weeds and invasive plants in and around the beds, harvested produce from existing beds that are dedicated to charity, planted cold hardy seeds and plants and cover crops, installed hoops that will be draped with special landscape fabric when the weather turns cold that will aid in year round organic food production, and distributed donated wood chips for mulch. While this was the first visit by this group of students to Norcross Community Garden, it is not the first from Wesleyan High. A group of seniors assisted with site preparations for new raised beds in early April.
Since then a Norcross High Boy Scout, Kam Hopper, completed his Eagle Scout project of building and installing seven raised cedar garden beds. These joined four existing beds that were installed several years ago by Comcast Cares, an annual employee volunteer event of the cable company. Of the combined eleven beds, some are rented to private individuals in the greater Norcross area, some were planted by two different Peachtree Corners Girl Scout troops and tended by a variety of other volunteers, some were planted by additional volunteers and managed by the Board of Directors of Norcross Community Garden.
Wesleyan High volunteers were there from the beginning and back this week to harvest fresh produce donated to those in need and to enhance the garden completing the first cycle and closing the loop. A few beds are available for rent now for individuals who want to plant a row for themselves or a food bank or for sponsorship with volunteers doing the planting and tending. Contact us today. Stay in the loop with the blog or Facebook page. May the circle be unbroken.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Help Summerour Middle Celebrate International Walk to School Day

Summerour Middle School will hold it's second walk and bike to school day since the Kick Off of its Safe Routes to School Program in May 2011. This will be their first time participating in the International Walk to School event. Volunteers are needed to escort 6 - 8th grade students as they walk or bike to school the morning of Wednesday October 19. Groups will form at the normal bus stops near the school at targeted apartment and residential neighborhoods along busy Beaver Ruin Rd and Mitchell Rd. They will proceed together forming a walking school bus.
Bikers are also welcomed. Volunteer now.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Saturday October 15 - A Big Day in Norcross

There’s something for everyone in Norcross most any time, but especially Saturday October 15. The semi-annual mega recycling event sponsored by the City of Norcross will be held at various locations at or near City Hall starting at 9 AM. Each featured location and activity has proven extremely popular, drawing participants from over 20 communities. The only one not open to the public is the bulky item clean up for things like old refrigerators and sofas plus the usual materials accepted for recycling and yard waste. This service is funded by city taxpayers and therefore is open only to them. Paper shredding,
electronics recycling and paint recycling
are all available to the general public. Please remember to bring non-perishable food products to donate to the food pantry. Oh, and remember to bring books to donate to Better World Books in the big green bin located on the north side of the new police parking lot.
This is the same spot as the paint recycling. Proceeds benefit literacy and education locally and globally. Books unfit for reuse will be recycled. This is a permanent collection site. Sustainable Norcross started recruiting volunteers to assist city staff and community service workers at these recycling events 3 years ago. Some of them still volunteer today. Contact Code Enforcement Supervisor Phil Robertson directly to volunteer. Paint Recycling, added this Spring, is back due to popular demand. Sustainable Norcross introduced the vendor, Williams Upcycling, to Ms. Robertson after observing a successful event in Roswell. They worked out the details and offered the service to gauge interest. About 2,700 containers of paint products were collected. While the small fee per paint container benefits the local community food pantry, some of the paint comes back to Sustainable Norcross to use in community service projects. While all this is happening around Lawrenceville St, a few blocks away a team of volunteers will be conducting the annual Rivers Alive clean up on a local stream. This year the city owned stream will be accessed from Everglades Trail just south of the Shell Station at the intersection with Mitchell Rd. Volunteers will serve from 9 AM until noon. For more info, contact riversalivenorcross@hotmail.com.
This is the 4th year that Sustainable Norcross has sponsored this event, part of the statewide campaign to remove litter and invasive plants from our waterways. Chair Betsy Hixson has participated in these events along with her husband Ken over the years since moving to Norcross. In the early days they were organized by the city. Now the city is a partner with volunteers taking the lead. The Public Works, Utilities and Parks Department assists with removal and disposal of the litter that cannot be recycled and the yard waste that includes kudzu, privet, English ivy and other non-native species that choke out beneficial plants. Sustainable Norcross Commission member Brian Mock and Hampton Inn Northlake are providing refreshments. You can free up space in your basement or attic, get your daily exercise, visit with friends and family and serve your community at these Norcross events Saturday October 15. Will we see you there? PS Have you voted for Connie Weathers and Sustainable Norcross in Cox Conserves Heroes contest. Help win $5,000 for our service projects. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

City Lights

While some people are thinking about city lite and wondering how much more its going to cost them, the taxpayers of Norcross are looking at their city lights and counting the savings. In fall 2009 the city replaced incadescent mini lights in the downtown streetscape trees with 400 strands of LED mini lights; all of them controlled with photocells for dusk to dawn operation. This has resulted in an annual savings of 54,000 kWh annually, equating to $6,100 annually. The commercial grade lights also have a longer life than the previous tree lights.
Additionally since 2009 the city Christmas tree has been lit with C9 LED lights with the savings over incadescent C9 lights 2,900 kWh or $330 each year. LED spotlights controlled by photo cells are used for up lighting trees in Webb Park and for landscape lighting at the city Welcome Center. The annual reduction from incandescent spots is 2,300 kWh, a savings of $270 per year. The total annual savings for these LED light installations is $6,700. The city continues its efficency efforts with the new LED outdoor decorative lighing and spotlights in conjunction with new signage for the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center pending final approval and installation. Gwinnett County Department of Transportation, who manages all traffic signal lights in the county on behalf of city, county and state roads, has been converting to LED lights in their effort at cost savings and improved efficiency. This project has been ongoing and will continue until all traffic signals have been converted. A federal grant has funded a large part of this improvement. Take a look around and see Norcross through the eyes of our visitors who will be flooding in for Art Fest this weekend. It might be an enlightening experience. Although these visitors don't seem too excited.
Top photo by Chuck Cimarik, bottom photo by Mike Weathers

Spreading the Word

Regular communication with city leaders is an important factor in the success of the ARC Green Communities certification program. It's also a goal of the Sustainable Norcross Commission. This staff meeting of City Manager Rudolph Smith included an update regarding the measures adopted this year by the city and reinforcement of those previously adopted. The City of Norcross currently is certifed as a Green Community at the Silver level by the ARC joining Cobb County and Roswell as the only communities among the 10 county metro area with that designation.
Since receiving that honor in December 2010 they have been Going for the Gold. The Green Communities Program includes a manual with 65 potential measures that a jurisdiction can adopt as it pursues sustainability. These measures are in 10 categories: Green Building, Energy Efficiency, Green Power, Water Use Reduction and Efficiency, Trees and Green Space, Transportation and Air Quality, Recycling and Waste Reduction, Land Use, Education and Innovation. Each measure is worth 5 or 10 points depending on the level of difficulty and impact. They fall into either Government or Community as the targeted audience with the government leading by example while also offering opportunities for the community to participate. Think the upcoming semi annual city sponsored community recycling day as one example and the recently adopted solar and water conservation incentives another for the community. Conducting energy audits on city owned properties and adopting a No Net Loss of Trees policy for city owned properties are examples of those targeting the city. The City of Norcross has implemented measures in all categories. They have attempted 100% of those in the categories of Land Use, Education and Innovation. The area with the least points attempted is Green Power. They have adopted 51 measures. Of the 14 not adopted, the city has worked on at least 3 that are still being pursued. The City earned the minimum 230 points for its Silver designation and must have a cumulative total of at least 280 for the Gold. This week they are submitting 10 measures for 70 potential points. An ARC committee of experts will review the city's application, conduct a site visit and make a determination with recognition expected in December. Thanks to the teamwork of elected officials, city staff, the city's volunteer advisory boards and others Norcross is becoming a leader and a greener, more sustainable community.

Got A Load of That

Thanks to James Williams of Williams Upcycling , Sustainable Norcross now has a supply of paint to use for community service projects. Not just any paint, but recycled paint salvaged from the landfill and ready to be repurposed. This paint was collected at an event like the one scheduled for Saturday October 15 from 9 AM - 1 PM sponsored by the City of Norcross. The first time the city offered this service along with their semi annual mega recycling event was in April 2011. Over 2,700 cans of paint were turned in for reuse or proper disposal. Reuse has included some of the paint for the walls of The Nest, a new artist incubator in the former parsonage on the campus of Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center (NCACC). A project planned for Friday September 30 as part of Gwinnett Great Days of Service is to paint donated windows removed from a local home. Later the windows will be turned in to a cold frame lid and a small standing greenhouse cabinet.
Both will be used by the newly relocated Norcross Community Garden that is also on the NCACC campus.
Got paint? Need to find a new home for it before the holidays? Participate in the city's Paint Renew Recycling Program and give your old paint new life. James, get a load of that!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Get a Load of This

Can you imagine that this
would all fit in this?
Well, thanks to the expert packing of Patty Russart, Executive Director of Atlanta Community Tool Bank, it did.
Then Patty fired up the electronics and printed a receipt for the tools that Sustainable Norcross has on loan for a workday at Norcross Community Garden Friday September 30. Rental value of these tools is $72.59; replacement value $2,417.39. Thanks to the Tool Bank and Gwinnett Great Days of Service (GGDoS), affiliated with Hands on Atlanta (HOA) and their generous sponsors, the rental is free to non-profits. This is the first year that Sustainable Norcross has participated, but it won’t be the last. In addition to free rental of the equipment, there are other benefits to this new partnership. The established organization of Gwinnett Great Days of Service provides assistance with publicity and recruitment of volunteers, supplies t-shirts for participants and some funds towards project materials in the form of Home Depot gift cards. The newly relocated and renamed Norcross Community Garden will benefit from some sprucing up. Plans include removal of weeds and invasive plants, spreading of wood chips from Arbor-Nomics Tree Service for mulch and weed supression around the beds, repositioning of 4 original beds, weeding and tending existing beds, planting fall crops in beds dedicated for donation to an area food bank, prepping windows donated from a local homeowner to repurpose in to a cold frame and small standing greenhouse, creation of a compost bin from wood pallets donated by Eaton Tile Co. of Norcross. A special feature will be a demonstration by Community Garden Whisperer Pattie Baker of how to create beds for winter crops using covered hoops. Volunteers will then install four. Other special guests may include Fred Conrad, Ex Dir of Atlanta Community Food Bank and representatives of Gwinnett Great Days of Service or Hands on Atlanta. Conrad is sending a team of volunteers with some supplies including water, snacks and fall veggie plants. This is the second time they have worked with Sustainable Norcross at the garden. They are supporting another garden work day, the second one with Wesleyan High School, in October. Additional volunteers signed up include a team from the Green Sustainable Club of Gwinnett Technical College led by Cris Perkins, Director of Institutional Advancement. The school is a repeat participant with GGDoS. Norcross Community Garden regulars Betsy Hixson, Kelli Persons and Connie Weathers are team leaders. Contact sustainablenorcross@gmail.com to add your support. If you cannot attend, please consider donating items from the wish list or sponsoring a bed. A contribution of $150 covers cultivation of one 4 X 8 foot raised cedar bed for a year tended by volunteers. Smaller donations will purchase seeds, plants, organic soil amendments and other supplies. Beds are also available for Do It Yourself gardening now through January 31, 2012 for $25. A 12 month rental starting February 1, 2012 is $50 plus a small registration fee. The garden is for year-round, organic food production for personal use or donation in the Plant a Row for the Hungry program. Community gardens take underutilized land and provide a catalyst for neighborhood and community development while providing food and stimulating a healthy lifestyle. Come grow with us.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Last Chance Sale

Attend the Last Chance Sale Saturday June 18 from 10 AM - Noon at 155 N Cemetery St. Most items on the catalog are availble plus a few others, even the kitchen sink.

Come see for yourself and take home a little piece of history. Demolition is scheduled to begin Monday and everything will be gone!

Help find a new home for these treasures. Need a little inspiration? See these great DIY projects reusing materials similar to those available at the Last Chance Sale.

See photos of some of the items on our Facebook page.

Pre-Demolition Salvage Pickin' and Porch Party Photo Album

Check the Sustainable Norcross Facebook page for an album of photos courtesy of Tina Marie DeVincenzo of Photography by Tina Marie. Thanks to Tina and all who made the event a success!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Going, Going...Gone

This charming stone shed has been an icon at Cemetery and Bostic Streets since about the 1960's. It's said the original owner of the c1900 Queen Anne cottage residence on the same lot had it built for a garden shed or greenhouse. Apparently the lady of the house had a green thumb and lovingly created a period appropriate structure. And many came to love it.

When the current owner, the city, decided to clear the lot to make way for redevelopment, members of the public started making plans to save it. Upon close inspection and with the advice of professionals, it was determined the shed could not be economically relocated. The stones were actually a veneer with much concrete mortar that was very brittle, it was built on concrete footings over an earthen floor and lined with old "barn" wood.

What to do, what to do? It would be a shame to reduce it to a pile of rubble and throw it in a landfill. First, it was offered to the public, along with the house, to be moved. There were no takers. At the urging of Sustainable Norcross to find a more environmentally friendly solution, the city contracted with The Deconstructed House to un-build the shed by hand in order to salvage the parts.

The weathered tin roofing with decorative ornament and interior barn wood are now for sale at the Pre-Demolition Salvage Pickin' and Porch Party Saturday June 4 from 10 AM - Noon. There are 7 pieces of tin 8 feet by 2 feet, 8 pieces 10 feet by 2 feet, 5 pieces 20 inches by 2 feet, some ridge pieces and the decoration. A nice stack of weathered barn wood includes a variety of widths and lenghts, mostly de-nailed. Arrive early for best selection. Also for sale are heart pine wood floors, doors (including the stone shed door), a fireplace mantle, antique doorknobs, new kitchen cabinets and more. Bring cash or check payable to City of Norcross. Proceeds go towards project expenses.

Oh, and remember the party aspect of the salvage sale for a unique, fun Saturday outing. See earlier blog post and here. After the sale, stroll to Historic Downtown to the shops and restaurants.

The house and remaining outbuildings are going next, including the adjacent house on the opposite corner of Bostic and Cemetery St. Expect demolition by the end of June. Additional select items will be recycled or repurposed in order to reduce the volume sent to the landfill. All this is in keeping with the City of Norcross designation by the Atlanta Regional Commission as a Silver Level Green Community.

See you Saturday!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pre-Demolition Salvage, Pickin' and Porch Party

Sustainable Norcross, The City of Norcross and The Deconstructed House host a Pre-Demolition Salvage, Pickin' and Porch Party on Saturday, June 4th, 2011 from 10am-12pm.

LOCATION is 155 North Cemetery St. at intersection with Bostic St., Norcross, 30071, conveniently located one block west of Buford Hwy. and two blocks east of historic downtown Norcross.

FREE ADMISSION. Join us for live old timey music,

artwork featuring salvaged building materials from Recentered Pieces,
memory quilts from repurposed favorite t-shirts or ties by Gail's Quilting Services

sustainable networking, and opportunity to purchase architectural salvage, fixtures, heart pine flooring and more from 1900 - 1930 period houses scheduled for demolition. Payment accepted by cash or check payable to City of Norcross.

TREATS available for purchase from Wholly Pops, a provider of refreshing local, seasonal and organic frozen fruit popsicles.

ENJOY costumed characters and storytelling about the old ball field and adjacent properties by Norcross Ghost Tour.

Sustainable Norcross, an organization dedicated to the greening of communities, provides community-based opportunities to engage in supporting sustainable practices.

City of Norcross, certified by the Atlanta Regional Commission as a silver level Green Community, was chartered in 1870. It was created as a railroad town and summer retreat for Atlantans because of its “high altitude, balmy breezes, pure water and mild seasons”. This forward thinking community is protecting its historic claim to fame while simultaneously becoming the place to imagine for a creative and diverse population.

The Deconstructed House was founded to divert re-usable building products and architectural salvage from landfills.

Contact sustainablenorcross@gmail.com 770-246-0083.