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Local Action on Sustainability Needed: Bring SOAR to Your Community

Mon ,05/02/2018

A group of citizens in Wichita, Kansas formed the Society of Alternative Resources (SOAR) as a way to improve the sustainability of their city. The purpose of SOAR is to advise and assist local government, businesses, and residents on Alternative Resources, Sustainability, and Renewable Energy issues. Its long-term goal is to ensure that our children and grandchildren have clean air, pure water, and a livable Earth.

SOAR decided to use the STAR communities rating system to interact with the local government. Below is the matrix which STAR uses to evaluate a community’s sustainability. It also acts as a guideline for ways to improve the community and evaluate it’s progress.
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Each item in the matrix has further explanation in the STAR-V2 guidelines.
Many cities invest millions to attract businesses and make their city more competitive in job creation,  entrepreneurship, workforce development, and capital investment. They also need to invest in their communities’ Sustainability.  The things that attract and keep the millennial’s, the talent, and the young entrepreneurs to a city fall under Sustainability.
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Below are two letters from the local Wichita Eagle newspaper designed to promote SOAR and its goals.
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 How to Improve the Qualify of Life in Wichita  11/10/2017

“Local Sustainability Issues” was the topic of the October Luzzati Lecture Series at WSU. Zach Baumer, Climate Program Manager of the Office of Sustainability in Austin, talked about the city’s effort to “green” its environment. Sustainable practices and a healthy environment are important issues for businesses, young professionals, and entrepreneurs when they consider locating in a city.

STAR ratings give an overall picture of the quality of life in a city and the desirability of living there. The STAR system considers a city’s progress in nine categories: Built Environment, Climate and Energy, Economy and Jobs, Education, Arts and Community, Equity and Empowerment, Health and Safety, Natural Systems, and Innovation and Processes. Austin rates as a four-star community with 476 points of a possible 720. Wichita has a three-star rating with 231 points.

Clearly, we have room to improve our community’s sustainable practices and our STAR rating. It will take effort and resources, but our businesses, city leadership, Chamber of Commerce, and our citizens should support improvements in the Wichita community. After all, we all have to live here.

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Time for a Charge  01/19/2018

It is imperative that Wichita improve its air quality. We were lucky that last summer was mild, but in hot summers there have been many days where Wichita exceeded the federal standard for ozone. That puts people’s health at risk and, as the Wichita Eagle has reported, failure to meet air quality standards could lead to fines up to $10 million a year. One way to improve Wichita ’s air quality would be to use more electric vehicles in the city.

When it comes to electric vehicles, Wichita has a chicken or the egg problem. People do not buy electric vehicles because there are few places to charge them, and there is no need for more charging stations as there are few electric vehicles. Kansas City has over 1000 charging stations while Wichita has seven. The Society for Alternate Resources (SOAR) is trying to improve that by taking the initiative to see that 200 charging stations are installed in Wichita.

SOAR plans to do that by partnering with Westar energy, the city, and local businesses to receive matching grants from the VW settlement. VW was caught falsifying its emission records and, as part of the settlement, Kansas will receive $15 million to reduce emissions, with $2.25 million set aside to install EV charging stations. Please support SOAR’s efforts.

 

Isn’t it time to form a similar organization in your community?

 

(c) 2018  – J.C. Moore