Monday, February 22, 2016

SWFL Community Foundation: Our Sustainable Community

If you are a subscriber to either the News-Press or Florida Weekly, last week your paper came with a supplement section from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation called "Our Sustainable Community." 
The supplement explains the concept of a sustainable Southwest Florida, the roadmap to sustainability, and how we can all work together to create a region focused on the evolving economic, social and environmental needs of our community.   I hope you'll take the time to read this...and be inspired and get engaged! There are lots of links below to source documents and the history of the development of the Sustainability Plan. Again, thanks to the Community Foundation for taking on this project.

By way of background, Lee County government developed an award-winning Sustainability Plan  in 2012-14, led by the County's Sustainability Office (Tessa LeSage, Director), with assistance from the County Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC). A Complete Streets approach was an integral part of the Plan and the CSAC played a key role in the development and oversight of the County's 2009 Complete Streets policy and its implementation plan.   In 2014, the County Commission shelved the plan and subsequently disbanded the CSAC and the Sustainability Office.

 Last year the County transferred the plan to the SWFL Community Foundation, which hired Tessa to lead its sustainability effort. To the Foundation, sustainability is at the center of everything they do, so taking on this initiative was a good fit.  As CEO Sarah Owen says, sustainability is all about quality of life--making SWFL a better place where people want to live, learn, work, and play--now and in the future.
 Darla Letourneau presents award to Foundation's Tessa LeSage
Last month BikeWalkLee selected the Southwest Florida Community Foundation as the 2015 Complete Streets Champion of the Year for its leadership in broadening the community conversation about the role of complete streets in the larger goals of quality of life, economic vibrancy, and a sustainable future.  One of the projects cited was its leadership of the Sustainability Plan, which  provides a comprehensive framework for continuing a complete streets focus in the broader community.

CEO Sarah Owen
Under CEO Sarah Owen's outstanding leadership these past four years, the Community Foundation has grown into something much more than giving out money. It now leads, facilitates, inspires, and  rallies the community around important causes. The Foundation engages the community in conversations and actions that create sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. They play a pivotal role in bringing together community agencies, businesses, governments, funders, and stakeholders to help our community find solutions to our toughest challenges. For her many contributions to the community, Sarah Owen was named 2015 Person of the Year by the News-Press on Feb. 18th.

Previous BWL Blogs re: Sustainability Plan
Report by Darla Letourneau

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