Posted on September 06, 2016 17:01
The renovation and repurposing of old buildings – regardless of their historic value – is just one way to promote sustainability, according to R. John Gibson, state coordinator for Sustainable Indiana 2016.
He and regional coordinator Richard Clough of Indiananapolis visited Jefferson County to visit the Historic Eleutherian College in Lancaster and to tour the Venture Out Business Center and The Clearinghouse.
The tour of Eleutherian College was led by Jan Vetrhus, president of the Eleutherian board of directors, who gave a history of the building – which was built in the 1850s to educate people of all races and both genders – and to show the progress of the restoration project.
The locations are three of 200 Hoosier-based climate solutions to be inducted Oct. 11 into the organization’s Green Light Legacy Hall of Fame. Sustainable Indiana was endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission as a bicentennial citizen initiative of Earth Charter Indiana. Jefferson is one of 10 counties that comprise Region 4, which has 16 Green Light nominees.
Both Venture Out, a small-business incubator, and The Clearinghouse, the centrally located home to most of Jefferson County’s social service programs, are housed in re-purposed buildings. The Clearinghouse occupies a former auto parts store on West Second Street that had been vacant for years; Venture Out, located on Industrial Drive, rents out office space and even a commercial kitchen to start-up businesses.
“Our goal is to discover, document and celebrate Hoosier models of sustainability as a Bicentennial legacy,” Gibson said. “Sustainability, to us, is how we live now so that future generations can live well. That means protecting and preserving a life-sustaining environment and making decisions about how we live in community, how we eat, how we grow things, how we travel, how we build, and how we reduce our waste (in appropriate ways) for the ongoing life of the planet.”
Reusing buildings, rather than razing them and building new structures, falls into that category. Other “Climate Solutions” categories include agriculture, the arts, infrastructure, neighborhoods and recycling.
“There’s no greener building than one that’s been refurbished,” Gibson said. “So, these historic landmarks (such as Eleutherian) have that quality,” he said, adding that the college is the only historic landmark included in this round of inductees.
Additionally, Venture Out helps entrepreneurs start businesses that will stay in the area and boost the local economy, Gibson said. “The future is going to force us to come back to local economics, where people make things, they’re neighbors buy things, where the wealth of the production stays in the community.”
At “big box” chain stores, dollars spent go to stockholders; dollars spent at locally owned and operated businesses stays in the community, he said.
Sustainable Indiana also highlights agricultural ventures, such as Michaela’s Farm in Batesville, which also will be inducted. Michaela’s farm promotes a respectful use of resources, simple living, and teaching sustainable growing methods, according to the Sustainable Indiana website.
“Local food security is a big part of our future. We cannot continue to import 90 percent of the food we eat in Indiana,” Gibson said. “We have so much wonderful farmland, growing weather, most is being used to grow beans and corn that is shipped out of state. We need to change that equation somewhat.”
Other Jefferson County winners include Paul Hassfurder, a naturalist, artist and musician, Madison, and Dave Adams of the Historic Downtown Farmers Market, also in Madison, as well as SunWind Power Systems of Floyds Knobs, AutoBeYours of Scottsburg, and the Food and Growers Association of Laughery Valley and Environs, Batesville.
The Region 4 Bicentennial Green Light Celebration in Hanover is from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Hanover College Science Center. It will feature local music and community organizations, along with the presentation of awards. The event is free and open to the public.