New group unveils vision for sustainability in region

CHARLOTTE – Developing more sustainable patterns of growth in the Charlotte region will require rethinking everything from the kinds of homes we build and where we build them to how we get around and where we locate groceries and other businesses. Those were among the messages Monday when a new organization called Sustain Charlotte unveiled its manifesto Charlotte 2030: A Sustainable Vision for Our Region.

In a gathering of supporters and local officials at the Square, at Trade and Tryon streets in Charlotte, the group outlined its 10-section plan for making the Charlotte area a greener place to live.

Listen to a 4-minute interview with Sustain Charlotte’s Shannon Binns, CLICK HERE>

The driving force behind Sustain Charlotte is Shannon Binns, the organization’s founder and executive director. Mr. Binns established Sustain Charlotte about a year ago when he saw a need for more environmental leadership in the area. Charlotte ranks 35th out of 50 cities when it comes to sustainability, according to one index, and Mr. Binns wanted to change this.

After initial conversations with leaders and activists around Charlotte, Mr. Binns convened a working group of more than 100 people from business, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector. Over several months, Sustain Charlotte compiled their input and created the document published Monday.

At the launch event, organizers handed out copies of “Charlotte 2030.” A program of speakers followed, including Mr. Binns, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, Mecklenburg County Commissioners Jennifer Roberts and George Dunlap, Director of CPCC Center for Sustainability Education Ernie McLaney, as well as others representing Mecklenburg County Parks & Rec, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the business community, and environmental organizations.

As the first speaker, Mr. Binns said, “Sustainability is a global imperative, and is the key to the continued livability of our city, our nation, and the world. And we are here to declare that together, we can create a future that serves us all, as well as those who come after us.”

He added that Sustain Charlotte’s vision is “for the type of homes we build and where we build them, the amount of land we set aside for recreation, how we move about, where we located our grocery stores and the kind of food they have to offer, how we make energy, what businesses we attract, how much water we use, and how we treat one another — to name just a few examples.”

“Taken together, the choices we make about these issues will determine not only the sustainability of our region, but also the quality of our lives, and the lives of our children. Because the decisions we make today determine our quality of life tomorrow,” he said.

Sustain Charlotte’s manifesto is meant to provide a vision of what the Charlotte region can become, and to invite community members to contribute to that vision and work with Sustain Charlotte to help achieve it. The next step for Sustain Charlotte is reach out to supporters who can help translate the vision document into action.

Said Mayor Foxx: “What’s most important about this is citizens coming together to say, ‘We want a sustainable community, and we’re going to do what it takes to get there.’”

Mayor Foxx noted that city government is already working hard to make the city greener, but said that citizen involvement is key to making Charlotte more sustainable. Mayor Foxx emphasized that his administration’s plans for a new streetcar between Presbyterian Hospital and Time Warner Cable Arena is a significant step forward for sustainability, especially when limited budgets make it difficult to invest in infrastructure to accommodate future growth.

He added that there might be disagreements someday between city government and the policies that organizations like Sustain Charlotte promote. But that kind of debate is essential to a thriving city, he said, and he welcomed the launch of Sustain Charlotte.

For more information about Sustain Charlotte, including a downloadable version of Charlotte 2030, visit the website.


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