Portsmouth, N.H., seeks residents' input for crafting sustainable vision
Sustainability in Portsmouth examined
January 25, 2010
Seacoast Media Group
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Residents will meet in "action circles" in the months ahead to create a vision for a more sustainable Portsmouth. The goal is to "engage the community in a transformation of the way the city handles a wide range of environmental and energy issues."
In the months ahead, the city's residents will come together in the hopes of crafting a sustainable vision for Portsmouth.
That's the wish of representatives from Sustainable Portsmouth, an effort led by volunteers who seek to engage the community in a transformation of the way the city handles a wide range of environmental and energy issues.
Bert Cohen, a member of the grass-roots organization, on Jan. 20 said 55 people came to Portsmouth High School to discuss the initiative and form "action circles" to study each topic that will kick off that process in earnest over the next four weeks.
"There's a tremendous energy," Cohen said, adding "this is a great time to get on board for ... an important opportunity to put into a plan the action they might feel passionate about."
Sparked by desire following the 2005 master plan to create a more sustainable Portsmouth, the effort formally launched last fall and has involved residents, business owners and those directly involved in the city government. To reach that goal, organizers have a five-year plan that residents in study circles will be helping to craft.
James Noucas, a Portsmouth attorney and a member of Portsmouth Listens, said it's the very beginning of work to craft a "living document" to guide the city, one that will be reviewed on a yearly basis. He said he believes the impetus to make the city the best it can be will drive the volunteers who have come out in force thus far and will keep them with it over the next several years.
"It's important to understand that unlike the master plan, this is a community plan. These are things we're going to do to connect 6,900 homes, businesses and institutions to make Portsmouth more sustainable," Noucas said.
Among the list of nine circles formed are local food/buy local, greenspaces/watershed, zero waste, community engagement, energy, transportation, affordable living, sustainable schools, and sustaining music, arts, theater, culture and history. According to Noucas, a full list will be available by early next week at the group's Web site www.sustainableportsmouth.org, and interested residents can sign up for existing circles or form their own based on their interests.
"The door is still open," Noucas said.
Cohen said public input regarding the plan is critical.
The next step will be a meeting on March 18, when all the groups are slated to come together, to deliver a paper and oral presentation of their findings for consideration.
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