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The 'Greening' of Ashland

“I think everyone in Ashland is trying to get to the same place — more or less — which is a more sustainable future,” says Stu Green, Ashland’s Climate and Energy Analyst.

Since November 2017, Green has been in charge of implementing Ashland’s Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP). Developed by a committee of citizens under the direction of Councilor Rich Rosenthal, the plan states the above-mentioned common goal as: “addressing climate change risks by reducing Ashland’s emissions of climate pollution (‘climate mitigation’) and preparing the city for unavoidable impacts (‘climate adaptation’)” (CEAP, p.10).

Over the next few months, Green and I will intermittently be examining various aspects of the city’s climate plan as well as offering some tips for Ashlanders to make lifestyle choices that are consistent with these goals. However, first I would like to begin by familiarizing readers with the profile of this highly qualified government employee in hopes that they will see fit to tap into Green’s broad range of skill sets. Green can be contacted at stu.green@ashland.or.us or 541-552-2085.

In 2015, Green was initially asked to join the CEAP committee because of his role as the developer of sustainability projects for the Ashland Food Co-op. Once CEAP was approved in March 2017, an employment call went out for the new position of Climate and Energy Analyst. Green realized how his life history had perfectly prepared him for the job. So, despite the fact that he was content working for the Co-op, he submitted his résumé and was selected from among a wide range of applicants.

Green had been raised, first, amid the frenetic, hyper-political climate of the Washington, D.C., Beltway, and then later in laid-back Colorado. While engaged in negotiating the dissonances of these two modes of living, Green grasped how a commitment to wise environmental action called both for creating sound regulatory policies, as well as learning from hands-on experience in the field.

His first step was to obtain a degree as an Environmental Engineer at the Montana School of Mining. (According to Green, as Washington, D.C. had begun imposing stricter regulations upon U.S. extractive industries, it was the mining schools which developed educational programs to foster environmental engineers trained to oversee those aspects of the business.) However, Green’s next move was to serve two years in the Peace Corps, engineering water systems in the Central American country of Honduras. Service in the field further underscored “the effects of policy upon action,” motivating Green to return to academia in order to earn a Master’s degree at the University of Montana. His next job was as a hydrologist for the State of Montana, before moving to Portland, to work for the nonprofit Solar Oregon.

By then, Green had married, and he and his wife wanted to escape city life, hankering for a more rural setting. After considering a number of other places, the Greens decided to move to our fair town.

Together with their extended family, the couple restored a property at the southern end of the valley. While his wife farmed the land, Green returned to school and obtained a masseuse’s license. His job at the Co-op was initially meant to supplement income from the massage business, but Green’s skills proved invaluable to the store’s efforts to become more sustainable. The projects he developed there enhanced the list of qualifications that led to his position with the city.

Though Green’s expertise includes water management, solar technology, and passive solar construction, at the moment he is utilizing his policy-making skills by preparing a progress report of all CEAP activities to date. His report will be presented at the March 18 City Council meeting.

He also has been speaking at a number of local events, informing the public about goals of CEAP. In that context, he has a couple of recommendations for Act Locally readers:

  • He suggests readers look at the summary version of CEAP (also available as a printed pamphlet in city offices). (ashland.or.us/SIB/files/Climate%20and%20Energy/Ashland_Revised_CEAP_ExecSummary.pdf )
  • Additionally, the city’s website hosts a series of tips:

    “Simple Ways to Reduce Carbon Pollution.” [click on tab for “residents”].

  • Topping that list of suggestions are

    three links to

    protocols through which residents

    can assess their own energy usage.

  • Residents can also request a free in-home

    energy assessment from the city.

  • Also available online is the somewhat daunting

    full text of CEAP, as well as the more compact

    Greenhouse Gas Inventory (the data that went into developing the plan).

But never fear. Green and I will unpack the key points of the plan over time.

Ashland resident, author and anthropologist Nina Egert has been a lay environmentalist since the early 1970s.

Stu Green is Ashland’s Climate and Energy Analyst.