Eco-City Update

I attended the Environmental Policy Commission’s monthly meeting Monday, and I need to tell you all about it. It was at 7:45 in City Hall, and it started early. Actually I think it started at 7:30, and I just can’t read. The purpose and membership of the EPC is here, by the way.

Business at the meeting, after a period of citizen comments and questions, was to review edits to the Charter derived from public comments at the Eco-City Summit. I was impressed by the professionalism of the EPC members- they’d done their homework, and spent plenty of time pre-editing, and discussed the changes thoughtfully. I was also pleased by their attention to grammatical structures- they’re thinking through every word in the document. Almost every recorded comment will be addressed, it seems, either by changes to the Principles themselves, or listed in a separate section with some indication of why the suggestion wasn’t taken.

The EPC also recognizes that participation in the Eco-City Charter to this point has been very limited to a specific group of (white, highly educated, and already active in local issues) Alexandrians, and they’re looking to take steps to fix that. I’m interested to see what they come up with, but they spent a good 5-10 minutes discussing plans for broadening public awareness and participation Monday.

One of the interesting points on the of commission members made is that, while the principles are very positive and “action” oriented, they don’t seem to address the concept of “sacrifice”. People are going to need to make lifestyle changes: consume differently, move around Alexandria differently. The principles don’t really make that clear. Maybe it will come later in the process, but I think the community at large will respond better to our Eco-City if we’re given an idea of personal challenges and changes it may entail, as well as the cool stuff we’ll get from it.

I didn’t stay til the end- it was past my bedtime- but the final draft of the principles will be presented in the open City Council meeting June 14th, which will be put up in a webcast if you can’t make it (dunno about real-time, though). That is another open meeting, and the EPC is open to comments up until then, too, so knock yourself out if you’ve got ideas.

Also, if you’re interested in Alexandria news updates on a bunch of topics (including a mailing list directly for environmental quality news), you can sign up for them here.

2 Responses to “Eco-City Update”

  1. 1 Cameron June 2, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    People don’t always link “personal sacrifice” to “greening of the city”! I hope the city council gets serious about outreach to underrepresented groups (i.e. poor, and poorly educated D.C. metro citizens) who have very little to sacrifice, but would probably love a eco-friendly neighborhood! I don’t like the idea of having Alexandria by this Utopia of tree-lined streets and curb-side recycling, while people in Crystal City still dump their oil down the drain cause there’s no where to recycle it (as if people would throw away perfectly good “used” oil in these times)! Being active citizens shouldn’t stop at the city limit sign!

    And as you can tell…I think I read your blog every two weeks, then comment on everything!!

  2. 2 virescent June 2, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Here’s hoping. There was a lot of talk about local rivalries and such- our efforts being no good to clean the Potomac if we were still catching all the pollution flowing downstream.

    There was a councilperson from Arlington at the Eco-City Summit, so hopefuly we’ll be good about local cooperation. I’ll report back when I know more.

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