Introducing GreenTown Joplin

Standing, L-R: Willy Crane, Crane Home Energy; Bill White, MO State Representative, District 129; Ellen Nichols, M.D.; Suzanne Nelson, Suzanne's Natural Foods (co-chair); Shay Lower (guest); Russ Hopper, MARET Center. Seated, L-R: Ronda Headland, MO Dept. of Conservation; Andrew Whitehead, GreenTown Joplin (co-chair); Rachel McGowan, MSSU Student. (photo credit: Catherine Hart)

At an organizing meeting held October 27, 2011 GreenTown Joplin was officially launched! Greensburg GreenTown staff have been working with folks from the Joplin community since the end of the summer, gauging interest in forming a local sustainability initiative. We've held several meetings and had much conversation, and have narrowed down the initial projects based on the priorities that have emerged.   

Here are the program areas we are starting with:   

  • Provide information and consulting for those rebuilding 
  • Launch a design contest for post-disaster model affordable housing  
  • Set up the Resident Greenius ("Green Genius") Skills Bank
  • Establish relationships with some of the largest rebuilding projects in Joplin

Much as we have done here in Greensburg, we are setting up a system whereby people who are open to building sustainably can get the unbiased information they need. Information and one-to-one consulting will initially be available in two locations: Suzanne's Natural Foods (centrally located in Joplin), and Crowder College/MARET in Neosho, just south of town. (You can read an article for details about Crowder's long history of commitment to alternative and renewable energy.)

We are in the process of raising money for a sustainability resource center similar in purpose and scope to our Silo Eco-Home here in Kansas (which features a Green Visitors Center and a Bed and Breakfast suite). We have been consulting with the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Joplin on this project.

The design contest is in the early stages of development. The vision is to invite the world's most creative minds to develop designs for permanent, sustainable housing that can be brought in right after disasters. We'll keep you posted as the competition takes form.

Resident Greeniuses are everyday people who have comprehensive knowledge in a particular subject area that they are willing to share, either by phone or email. Let's say a homeowner is trying to decide what kind of windows to buy,and has gotten overwhelmed by the choices that come up when doing an internet search. GreenTown Joplin will connect this person with someone who has done a lot of their own research and can offer suggestions.

We are establishing relationships with some of the largest rebuilding projects in Joplin.

On an ongoing basis, we are collecting recommendations for our Sustainable Treasures listing.The aim is to celebrate the special features, both natural and human-made, that already exist in Joplin and the four-state area (southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas, northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas).

The group will meet monthly, and subcommittees are getting together more frequently to get these projects on track. GreenTown Joplin is co-chaired by Suzanne Nelson, owner of Suzanne's Natural Foods, and Andrew Whitehead, an accountant. Greensburg GreenTown is providing staff suppport in a variety of areas as the organization gets its footing.

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