Forum identifies ways to make Ojai Valley a model green community
By Sondra Murphy
When the Ojai Valleywide Discussion first met last November, participants were able to bring all issues to the table.
Organized and hosted by the office of County Supervisor Steve Bennett, valley residents were invited to be part of a cooperative effort in identifying community needs and then playing a part in facilitating changes.
Nearly a year later, the people have spoken, voting one of the top priorities, making the valley a model green community. “What we have committed ourselves to do is set the scene so we can really run with the ball,” said Bennett about the compiled OVWD data.
The ongoing community meetings have impacted awareness of participants as well as discussion facilitators from Bennett’s office. By Sunday’s final meeting, water bottles and plasticware had been replaced by jugs of water, paper cups and potato starch forks for the apple pie. Even Nordhoff gym, where the meeting took place, illuminated the group with retrofitted, low-energy use lights.
“The first thing we have to do when we’re trying to reduce is hop on the scale and weigh ourselves,” said Steve Offerman of Bennett’s office. After encouraging people to measure their carbon footprints, he offered various statistics about the Ojai Valley, including the fact that 87,798 tons of carbon dioxide is emitted from our area each year, mainly due to automobiles. Offerman then presented information about links to green building and resources to be found at ventura.org.
OVWD participants had an instant opportunity to help make the valley more environmentally friendly by becoming involved in the Ojai Valley Green Coalition, formed since the first discussion took place last year. Coalition co-founder Tim Baird explained the coalition’s mission to create Ojai into a model green community, showed a short video and introduced action committee members, who briefed the crowd on the priorities of each and invited people to join the committee of choice.
Those action committees are building-construction; energy conservation, food and agriculture, transportation, waste management, and water and land use. Help is also needed with organizational committees to help the coalition function effectively: communications-publicity, coordination and evaluation, event planning and fund raising. During the final OVWD meeting, Baird estimated that about 75 OVWD participants signed up to serve on committees, a number awaiting confirmation by the various committee coordinators.
“The food and ag committee is thrilled to report 30 people gave us cards to contact them for participation in our committee work,” Dulanie Ellis later told OVN.
There are other issues from the OVWD meetings that made it to the top eight that can be addressed through green coalition involvement, such as preserving existing open space in the valley, decreasing car use and expanding public transportation and other alternatives. For more information, go to ojaigreencoalition.com.