Monona takes a 'natural step' to a greener city
September 12, 2007
The Capital Times
Living for the earth is taking hold in Monona.
On Tuesday night, about 75 people gathered to hear what they can do to make this a greener city.
The event was hosted by The Natural Step Monona, a grass-roots group started by three people a year ago, which blossomed this spring into 22 members. Organizers hope the ranks will continue to expand after Tuesday night's meeting at the Monona Community Center.
The group's activities in the past year have included cleaning up a city park for Earth Day, taking orders for rain barrels, compost bins and natural fertilizers, helping a local church start a rain garden and urging the Monona Public Library to start a special collection of books on eco-sustainability.
All of the existing Monona members have begun their involvement by participating in a 9-week study circle.
The study circles, two of which met this past spring at the Monona Community Center and more of which are expected, discuss the book "The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns can Change to Sustainable Practices" by Sarah James and Torbjorn Lahti.
Heather Gates, one of Monona's original three members, said The Natural Step movement was founded in Sweden in 1989 by an oncologist who believed childhood cancer was escalating because people were living in a way that was upsetting the earth's natural balance.
Gates said Monona is one of 11 Wisconsin communities that have groups committed to The Natural Step idea.
"It's been such a positive thing," Gates said, adding that "it's not a group for people who want to just sit and talk. It's for people who want to get out and do."
On Tuesday night, members of The Natural Step Monona were joined by a host of other Dane County and Wisconsin groups that promote similar ideas. Each invited group had a table filled with pamphlets, books and other information that visitors could peruse. Groups included Focus on Energy, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, My Fair Lakes and Dane County Buy Local.
Topics at the tables included buying locally grown food, using natural fertilizers like corn gluten on lawns, supporting fair trade practices in developing countries, thinking about where and how clothing and other goods are produced, making homes more energy efficient and keeping pollutants out of lakes.
Monona resident Claiborne Hill, who came out Tuesday night with her young children, said the gathering was "a great idea," although she had hoped it would be more family-centered.
Nevertheless, "we're really excited about being involved," Hill said. "We're really excited to see Monona taking this on and making sure the entire community is doing everything it can to protect our lakes and to go green."
Hill, who lives just six blocks from Lake Monona, said her family already does a lot of things The Natural Step promotes, such as not using lawn pesticides.
"We look forward to raising everyone's awareness and working toward larger scale changes," Hill said.
For more information on The Natural Step go to www.naturalstep.org.
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