Change Agents for a Greener Naples Make Strides
Oct 02, 2013 01:32AM
● By Linda Sechrist
While no one knows which acts or individuals will finally tip the critical mass toward an enduring good, we do know that a small, determined group of people that do not give up will make a difference. In Naples, a small, yet resolute group of change agents for continues to work for a greener community. Blazing trails, they encourage others to follow.
Dianne Rhodes, Citizen Activist
For years, Dianne Rhodes has been working tirelessly for the planet, whether she’s in Naples or back home in Saskatchewan, Canada. In 2006, she organized a home viewing party for Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth; in 2007, she motivated a group of 400 at the Naples Pier for Bill McKibben’s first national day of environmental action (the event that led to the development of 350.org); and in 2008, she formed a Naples Network for Climate Action that orchestrated Naples Leading the Way to Sustainability, a week of environmental events and actions. Recently, she completed training with former Vice President Al Gore and the scientists of the Climate Reality Project to become a Climate Reality presenter.
Rhodes also participated in the fourth annual Healing Walk, July 4 through 6, in Fort McMurray, Alberta; a meaningful ceremonial action to pray for the healing of Mother Earth, especially from damage by the tar sands industry. The event required camping in the heart of tar sands country on the territory of the Fort McMurray First Nation. Nothing prepared Rhodes for the stark reality of seeing the tar sands for the first time. She says, “The site of Syncrude’s (one of the largest producers of crude oil from Canada’s oil sands) open pit mines, the toxic tailings ponds so deadly and devoid of life, massive machines, smokestacks bellowing clouds of poison into the atmosphere and the constant stream of heavy trucks and machinery brought me to tears. I thought of climate scientist James Hansen’s words, ‘If the Keystone XL goes through, it will be game over for the climate.’”
Marjorie Ziff-Levine, Green Dreamer
Ever since a symposium—Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream—reignited Marjorie Ziff-Levine’s passion for environmental activism, she has worked to build awareness for green practices that save energy and resources. Initially active as a facilitator of the symposium, she subsequently worked with Rhodes in planning a sustainability event in Fleishmann Park. She also designed an eco-networking web portal and eco-business consulting practice and volunteered her time to a group of Florida Gulf Coast University students interested in sustainable business. Ziff-Levine participated in the county and city Energy Task Forces and organized the U Gotta Go Green Eco-extravaganza at Mercato, in Naples, on October 10, 2010.
A woman with a positive attitude and a lot of perseverance, Ziff-Levine hasn’t let up. Most recently, she created the Naples Sustainable Business Network (NSBN), which has attracted 40 to 60 people to their monthly gatherings. The green champion believes that since her involvement began in 2008, small actions by hundreds of individuals have accumulated to build support for the green initiatives now emerging in Naples. Subscribing to the theory that, "A steady rain soaks the grass,” Ziff-Levine patiently awaits the time when the seeds she has fervently sown blossom into the field of green she’s long envisioned.
Find the Naples Sustainable Business Network on Facebook at TinyUrl.com/NPowerNaples.
Cloe Waterfield, Twentyfifty
Cloe Waterfield’s scientific research and consulting company helps organizations and individuals optimize environmental objectives in both daily operations and long-term business goals. In 2011, through a competitive bid process, Twentyfifty was selected as the subcontractor to develop and implement energy reduction programs made possible through a federal grant awarded to the city of Naples. Ziff-Levine teamed up with Waterfield, as well as David Corban Architects and PlugSmart, to launch NpowerNaples.com, a free, community outreach energy-saving program, and to establish the city of Naples’ Green Business Program. The colleagues have been working together throughout the fiscal year ending October 2013 to certify 30 businesses within Naples city limits and are looking forward to seeing this number burgeon in the future.
Mike Bauer, City of Naples Natural Resources Manager
The Npower Naples team and Dr. Mike Bauer, manager of the Natural Resources department for the city of Naples, were gratified and proud when Naples Mayor John F. Sorey III not only championed the Green Business Program, but also signed a proclamation declaring the month of June 2013 as Green Business Recognition Month. “Mayor Sorey invited all businesses and organizations within the city to save energy and resources, and to grow a healthier community for becoming a leading sustainable city in the region,” reports Bauer, a longtime advocate for sustainability.
A second Green Business Recognition event is scheduled at 8 a.m., October 2, in Council Chambers at Naples City Hall. “Residents and members of the business community are invited to attend and show their support,” notes Bauer.
To help businesses learn about how to save money, energy and resources, as well as how to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner, the Naples Green Business Program collaborated with the Collier County chapter of Building Managers International to offer “Lunch and Learn” workshops that focus on creating operational efficiencies. Among other projects, the Natural Resources Division’s new sustainability intern is tasked with helping to create a fresh series next year.
Preserve Our Paradise
The latest environmental change agents, Preserve Our Paradise, a group of Naples residents joined by the Conservancy, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Collier County Democrats, is working to stop Dan A. Hughes, a Texas oil company, from drilling a 17,000-foot exploratory oil well near 24th Avenue Southeast and Desoto Boulevard. “The drill site is part of 115,000-acre parcel Collier Resources leased for oil exploration in the western Everglades, only 1,000 feet from family homes,” says Jaime Duran, founder of the citizens’ group. New oil drilling would contribute to climate change and endanger water, wetlands, wildlife and communities.
“If we do not have a healthy environment, it doesn’t matter what state our economy is in. We must be able to produce healthy food, breathe clean air and drink clean water. If our environment deteriorates, our economy will depreciate, as well,” cautions Bauer, who emphasizes that we must consider that the economy is a subset of the environment, not the other way around.