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Clean Green Action is Growing Sustainability in Wood County January 25, 2021, Common Roots Rising website I was introduced to Clean Green Action by Jane Haasch, one of our collaborators here at Common Roots Rising and the creator of Lambs Quarters Renewable Energy Development. I wanted to know more about how Clean Green Action was making a difference in the Wisconsin Rapids area. Jane connected me with Joe Ancel, one of the leaders at Clean Green Action. Joe agreed to answer my questions so I could learn more about Clean Green Action and share the story with our Common Roots Rising community. It’s good news to discover we have an active grassroots group working to create a sustainable community in Wood County. Thanks Joe for sharing the Clean Green Action story with us.
I read that Clean Green Action started in 2008. What happened to spark the initial seed idea that got Clean Green Action started back in 2008? Led by Carol Davis, who is still very active in our group, several residents saw an opportunity to focus on improving local recycling efforts to benefit both the environment and local businesses. So a public meeting was held to see if community members shared this interest. Twenty-two people showed up, including folks from municipalities, area businesses, organizations, high school students, as well as individuals who considered themselves ‘concerned citizens’. The group agreed that recycling was important, but had other environmental priorities that they also wanted to work on. Thus, Clean Green Action was born! This citizen-led group now looks at specific ways to create a greener future for the south Wood County area. The name of the group was originally Citizens for a Clean, Green and Welcoming Community. The name expressed what we were about. However, not even our members could remember the name, so in 2014 we changed our name to Clean Green Action, more succinct and much easier to remember. Clean Green Action has been around for over 12 years. What keeps the group going?The dedication and passion of our volunteers keeps us going. They are committed to making our community a better place to live. This commitment leads to ideas on what is needed. This results in a variety of projects, depending on specific interests of an individual. One person may have an interest in recycling, another may be passionate about eco-municipalities, while others may be more concerned about preserving nature and the planet. For example, recycling projects have included the Recycling Rangers and Choose to Reuse. Our work on eco-municipalities has led to the formation of the City of Wisconsin Rapids Sustainability Committee and the Mayoral Council on Sustainability. Nature oriented projects are Monarch Encouragement and Wisconsin Rapids’ Bird City. And we have sponsored environmental summits and climate change forums. What goes into making a clean green action project successful in Wisconsin Rapids? A successful project requires an individual who is willing to take the lead and then have the vision so others want to be part of that project. Having about a dozen active members we have to be realistic about what we can take on. It also helps that we have organizations and municipalities that are willing to partner with us.
What does a sustainable community look like to you?Sustainability is defined as meeting current needs without jeopardizing the ability to meet future needs. This means that we should not be wasteful, that we should conserve our resources. A community needs to address energy conservation as well as energy use. We need to become less dependent on fossil fuels and make greater use of renewable energy. We need to look at transportation, food, and water and how we can limit our impact on the environment. Can a small community really make a difference and impact around climate change?It all adds up. If each community, no matter how small, played an active role in becoming a sustainable community, there would be a significant impact with respect to the climate crisis. We all need to do our part and we need to do it now. What are some tips for new groups that want to start their own sustainability actions in their communities like Waupaca?First, I want to say that our group has been learning from folks in Waupaca. In fact, we have had Jane Haash give a presentation on the efforts in Waupaca at one of our meetings. Every community is different so what works in Wisconsin Rapids may not be the best fit for Waupaca. With that said, I would encourage groups in Waupaca and elsewhere to contact us. We would be happy to share our experiences. Not all of our projects have been a success but they have all been a learning experience. We now know what works and what doesn’t and with that knowledge some of our projects have evolved over time. From my research it looks like your action is organized around projects? How do you choose the projects you work on? Each December we solicit ideas for new projects and In January we vote on what projects we want to undertake that year. In making our decisions we take into consideration the number of on-going projects that will be continuing in the new year. Another factor in taking on a new project is having someone who is willing to take the lead. Of course, the project also has to fit with our mission statement to create a sustainable community through education, recycling and conservation efforts.. Financial considerations are less of a factor since our projects can be achieved with minimal funds or with donations and small grants. What are your favorite Clean Green Energy projects?Some of my favorite projects are ones that have withstood the test of time. These include Recycling Rangers, Choose to Reuse, and Bird City. The Recycling Rangers is an ongoing project which began in 2010 and continues to provide recycling containers and volunteers to community events (e.g. 4th of July and State Water Ski Show Tournament) as well as making recycling containers available to groups for smaller events. Choose-to-Reuse began in the Town of Grant (Portage County) and the Town of Grand Rapids (Wood County) in 2012 and continues to provide an outlet for people to drop off useful items for others to have for free. This project has expanded to other municipalities. In 2015, this project received a Wisconsin Recycling Excellence Award for Innovation from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In 2013 members successfully earned the Bird City designation for the city of Wisconsin Rapids. To maintain the title of Bird City, members have been completing annual projects. One project was to improve the trails behind Lincoln High School into a birding spot and more designated trails open to the public for walking and cross country skiing. Another Clean Green Action project that has been on-going for several years is Sustainable Wisconsin Rapids which is our effort to move the city of Wisconsin Rapids towards becoming an eco-municipality. This project faces the challenge of trying to maintain continuity with changes in the mayor’s office. We are working with our third mayor since we initiated the project in 2009. What is the Prairie Chicken Festival?The Wisconsin Prairie Chicken Festival is an event for learning about prairie chickens and grassland habitats in Central Wisconsin. Typically, there are fun activities for people of all ages to enjoy including prairie chicken viewing and birding tours. Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be virtual. There will be recorded presentations during the week prior to the actual event on Saturday, April 17. On that day there will be live virtual presentations. A schedule of activities is currently being developed and will be posted on the Clean Green Action webpage as well as at WIPrairieChickenFest Facebook page. How does the Prairie Chicken Festival support your mission?This event supports our mission because it is educational with respect to preserving and conserving the grassland habitat on which the prairie chicken is dependent. Learn more here. What are Monarch Way Stations? Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Through our Monarch Encouragement project, volunteers have been involved in the establishment of waystations in the Wisconsin Rapids area. For example, there is one at City Hall and one at Butterfly Hill which is located on the hillside along the Riverview Expressway across from the hospital. I read that you started a Choose to Reuse program. Can you tell me more about it?This program helps to keep materials out of the landfill while being reused or repurposed. It is basically a “free” garage sale. People bring in items that are no longer being used but are still usable and others can have the items for free. In our area the largest event occurs in the Town of Grand Rapids where it is held twice each year. However, due to the pandemic no event was held in 2020 and it is hoped that there will be one Choose to Reuse event in the Town of Grand Rapids this year. If I wanted to start a Choose to Reuse program in my community can you share some ways to get started? I think every community could use a Choose to Reuse program. Basically, what you need are some dedicated volunteers and the cooperation of your local municipality. Clean Green Action has created a Choose to Reuse Resource booklet to help you start a program in your community. You can see it here. I see you have a recycling program called Recycling Rangers. How did this program get started?Back in 2010 one of our members saw that at events, such as the 4th of July celebration in Wisconsin Rapids, there were only garbage containers and nowhere to put your recyclables. With a small grant portable containers, T-shirts and gloves were purchased and with a handful of volunteers the program was started. Learn more about Recycling Rangers. How do you get the word out about the programs you offer to the larger community?We use a variety of methods. These include having a booth at local events such as the Grand Affair, newspaper articles, our webpage and our Facebook page, In spite of our efforts, there are still many people in our area who have not heard of us. Do you partner with other organizations?Yes, to name just a couple, we have partnered with the Wood County Health Department and the Incourage Teen Leadership program on River Riders Bike Share and the Growing Friends Community Garden. In 2013members explored various bicycle related projects such as creating a bike share program, advocating for bike friendly lanes, and having a bicycle rally. In 2014 CGA collected 70+ bikes from community members and local fire and police departments. Also in 2014 CGA assisted Incourage’s Teen Leaders who named the program (River Riders Bike Share) and painted the first bikes resulting in 21 bikes for program launch in April 2015. Members of CGA assisted the Wood County Health Department (WCHD) in initiating the program in 2015 at four sites and in giving a presentation at the Upper Midwest Planning Conference in Madison. River Riders Bike Share continued under a contract with Zagster in 2018 and 2019, and the program will be operated by a different contractor in 2021. Since its first year (2013), the Growing Friends Community Garden has provided a variety of gardening opportunities (e.g. raised bed gardens, table top gardens and in-ground gardens) to local residents at a low cost. The gardens are located between Riverview Hospital and Assumption High School. Clean Green Action has provided volunteers to help prepare the initial beds and gardening areas. The Wood County Health Department coordinates this project and one year the Teen Leaders helped to decorate the garden. If I want to volunteer what are some projects and things you could use help with?I would suggest that you go to our webpage and look at our list of projects to see where your interest lies. If there is a project that appeals to you, contact us and you will be put in touch with the project leader. If none of our current projects coincide with your interests, you can always propose a project at our December meeting. If that project is chosen, you will probably become the project leader. If I would like to get involved with Clean Green Action what is the best way for me to get connected?If you are interested in joining our group and helping out on one or more of these projects, we invite you to attend our meetings which occur at 4 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month (except for June, July and August) on Zoom or at McMillan Library in Wisconsin Rapids. How can I support Clean Green Action?As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, all donations made to Clean Green Action are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the IRS. Contributions may be sent to P.O. Box 1541, Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495-1541. If you would like to donate here is the link with the details: https://www.cleangreenaction.org/donate.html How can we learn more about Clean Green Action?Clean Green Action website: https://www.cleangreenaction.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cleangreenwr/ Is there anything else you would like to share with us?We all need to do our part based on our specific talents. Clean Green Action to host Climate Change Forum March 30, 2019 Clean Green Action is hosting a Climate Change Forum April 30 in the McMillan Memorial Library Fine Arts Center. The forum will begin at 6 p.m. with a presentation by Professor Emeritus Alan Haney on the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“The IPCC was established in 1988 by the United Nations Environmental Programme in cooperation with the World Meteorological Organization to provide a sound scientific interpretation of the vast amount of information on climate change,” explains Haney. “IPCC enlisted the cooperation of nearly 1000 scientists from countries all over the world, including meteorologists, climatologists, statisticians, computer modelers, and others.”
Dan Dieterich, Wisconsin Co-Coordinator of Citizens Climate Lobby will present on how to get Congress to take action to address climate change. “Most Americans today accept that our climate is changing, and they want national action to deal with climate change,” said Dieterich, adding, “We can and should take climate action as individuals, but the climate problem is so large that it also requires national and international actions as well.”
Nancy Turyk, Community Development Educator with UW-Extension Wood County, will offer advice for individuals and present on what is being done at the local level. Turyk will lead a community conversation following the presentations, wrapping up the forum by 7:30 p.m. McMillan Memorial Library will be conducting solar tours before the forum and will air Chasing Coral the day before at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Visit www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/ to measure your impact and find helpful tips for reducing your carbon footprint.
Joe Ancel, right, Chair of Clean Green Action, recently presented McMillan Memorial Library Director Andy Barnett, left, with a donation of $250 from Clean Green Action to support the library’s solar panel project.
Clean Green Action Supports Library Solar Project By Joe Ancel, Chair, Clean Green Action January 10, 2018 In the Summer of 2017, McMillan Memorial Library installed the largest rooftop solar array in Wisconsin Rapids. The array transitioned the Library to a greener future, saves the library money, and provides green power to our community. Two thirds of the $420,000 project is paid for, with Viking Electric and its owner Scott Prahl, funding much of the project and utilizing the associated tax credits. The Library’s Endowment also contributed funds for the project. McMillan Library is hoping for community support to fund the remaining third of the cost.
Clean Green Action is a local nonprofit environmental group that focuses on sustainability and reducing impact on the environment. In keeping with its mission to create a sustainable community through education, recycling and conservation efforts, Clean Green Action supports the library’s use of solar and contributed $250 to the Solar Power @ McMillan fund.
Clean Green Action encourages other organizations and individuals to contribute. Donations are tax deductible and will be matched by a supporter up to $80,000. Donate by completing a form available at the library or on the library’s website at: https://squareup.com/store/mcmillan-library