I’ve been gone for 15 years. In that time, Lewisburg has grown into America’s Coolest Small Town, and I grew into an environmental professional. At 18, I left Lewisburg and to attend West Virginia University where I earned degrees in Environmental Protection and Soil Science. It was during my schooling in Morgantown that I first learned a municipality could form a Green Team, but would be several years before I would come back to put that idea into action.
The concept of living sustainably took on new meaning when I lived in a remote Alaskan village. I learned to be resourceful since every commodity had to be brought in by boat or plane. Living sustainably became more than a hobby, it was a way of life. I contributed to the community by developing ways to keep our environment healthy through increasing recycling programs, restoring salmon streams, initiating energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and educating residents on how to be better stewards of their environment. Eventually I would return home to West Virginia, but the lessons I learned in Alaska stayed with me.
Upon returning to Lewisburg, I was ready to give back to the community that helped shape who I am today. I wanted to use my new knowledge to turn the town into not only America’s coolest small town but also one of the greenest. I approached the City Council about forming a Green Team, similar to the one still operating successfully in Morgantown. After presenting the Council with a mission statement on Sept. 15th, they voted unanimously to adopt it and form the Lewisburg Green Team. Our mission is to promote and improve environmental stewardship, teach civic responsibility and nurture a passion for sustainable living practices in order to strengthen our community.
We are well on our way to becoming a sustainable community. Lewisburg has already identified several initiatives in the Sustainability Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan including alternative transportation, local foods, storm water management, and drinking water protection. Bringing together individuals, households, neighborhoods, businesses and government in a comprehensive and collaborative effort, we are committed to supporting the city in building an environmentally sustainable community. Our objective is to inspire community members to embrace environmental sustainability and focus on promoting each individual’s positive impact on the earth.
Currently we are a team of 6 with Natalie Roper, executive director at Generation West Virginia (pictured with the young talent sign) ; Lindsay Jones from Edith’s Health Food Store; Christina Entenmann, publisher of LBSPY (pictured on far left); Siobhan Winters, manager of Love Child (pictured on far right), Cynthia Clark and myself (pictured in the middle). I am also the program director at the West Virginia River Coalition. We are very excited to work together to make Lewisburg a sustainable community. We welcome your ideas and involvement!
Please join us at Hill and Holler to meet the Green Team on November 12th at 6pm. For more information, follow us on social media @LewisburgGreenTeam or visit us at lewisburggreenteam.org. We are also accepting donations via our website.
– Autumn Leah Byrson, Executive Director of Lewisburg Green Team. LBSPY #71, November 2015