News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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October 24, 2013

Sustainability conference set for next week

TERRE HAUTE — A two-day event next week will bring together people and groups in the community to discuss important sustainability issues.

Our Green Valley Alliance for Sustainability — a local group that serves as Wabash Valley’s resource center for environmentally sustainable practices, education and activities — will host a conference on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in the Sycamore Banquet Center at Indiana State University.

One of the highlights of the event is an awards ceremony at which individuals and community groups will be recognized for their work to increase awareness and/or improvements in OGVA’s focus areas: sustainable food; energy consumption; waste stream management; bikeable, walkable, livable communities; social justice; and environmental stewardship.

The Sister Jeanne Knoerle Sustainability Award will be given to an individual for his/her work in sustainability efforts. The award is named after Knoerle, founder of OGVA and a pioneer of sustainability in the Wabash Valley.

Another award, The Green Leaf Award, has two categories: business and nonprofit.

The awards will recognize a nonprofit group or school and a business for its work to advance sustainability in the community, OGVA President Lorrie Heber said.

“So many people and organizations are doing wonderful work to improve the quality of life in the Valley,” Heber said.

“By honoring them, we not only thank them but provide an example for others to follow.”

The conference, now in its third year, will also include education sessions, keynote speeches and workshops.

 Heber said the conference will be an opportunity to learn about current local sustainability efforts and identify best practices from other communities.

“What can we borrow from other communities to help improve sustainability here?” she asked.

In addition, attendees — which will include students, nonprofit groups, urban planners and city-county government officials — will get the chance to “network with individuals concerned with improving quality of life,” Heber said.

Around 100 people are expected at the event.

The conference will open with a keynote speech from Betsy Damon, an internationally recognized environmental artist whose work with water and site-specific sculptures has received wide acclaim, according to OGVA.

Damon, founder of the nonprofit organization Keepers of the Waters, will visit in collaboration with the 2013 Year of the River and Wabash Valley Art Spaces.

Following the keynote presentation, attendees will have an opportunity to participate in sessions on topics such as local foods, social justice and waste stream management.

The second day of the conference will be a “Sustainability Summit”  with the theme, “Organizing for Action.” The keynote speaker will be Brewster Rhoades, executive director of Green Umbrella, a Cincinnati-based environmental sustainability organization. He will lead a conversation about how nonprofits can work together to solve problems more effectively.

The day’s activities will also include a breakfast and a networking reception.

“Good things are happening to help improve the quality of life in our community,” Heber said. “The conference lets us learn together and discover ways to keep that momentum going.”

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.

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