Sustainability experts have noted that all professions and people from all walks of life need to work together for our world to find a way toward a more sustainable future. The Kent Environmental Council is interested in promoting a sustainable environment and is currently doing so through attention to the areas that follow. If you envision another area, please bring it to our attention and join us in adding it to our focus.
Active Living promotes healthy relationships with the natural world via park and trail improvements in Kent and in Portage County; city redevelopment that encourages walking, bicycling, and the use of public transit; and networking with individuals and groups who communicate effectively to policymakers to advance these concepts.
Our most recent collaboration is with Bike Cleveland, a bicycle advocacy group in Cleveland. There are possible plans to collaborate with their staff to do a bicycle workshop in Kent to promote bicycle safety. Also, participants attend Kent city council meetings to become informed about street and road improvements and to advocate the safe sharing of public streets and sidewalks by pedestrians and bicyclists. Members also sometimes attend public participation meetings sponsored by AMATS, the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation.
Ann Ward (330-285-0899)
Or join the conversation on Facebook.
Communication and Publicity
This focus area supports the activities of other KEC focus areas by providing environmental information to KEC members and the public. Communication tools include an e-newsletter, a hardcopy newsletter as needed, letters to the editor, legislative alerts, booths at special events such as the Kent Heritage Festival and River Day, and public forums at least twice a year. Current activities include revising our website and promoting more timely use of KEC’s Facebook page.
Volunteers willing to help prepare written copy and/or graphics for the website and Facebook page (to ensure these media remain current) or provide assistance at special events are always welcome. One specific need is for an ambitious volunteer to help monitor website content at other environment-related sites.
The primary goal of this focus area is education in the areas of energy conservation, problems with fossil fuels as energy sources, and alternative energy sources.
Energy conservation: It is important for individuals, businesses and organizations to know about the many methods available to conserve energy. These methods can be as simple as using CFL or LED light bulbs wherever possible and turning off lights when not in use.
Problems with fossil fuels as an energy source: Burning fossil fuels contributes to serious health problems by filling the air and water with poisonous substances and contributes significantly to global warming/climate change and results in severe and often irreversible environmental damage. A current concern is the environmental impact of gas drilling by fracking (image at right) and the use of injection wells for the waste materials in Portage County.
Alternative energy sources: Much more attention needs to be given to the use of wind, solar, water and geothermal power sources. Perhaps the most familiar of these is solar power. Some examples of this alternative energy source can be found locally. Wind energy has been talked about in terms of placing wind turbines in Lake Erie.
Environmental education helps to reconnect people with the natural world. Research has shown that contact with nature promotes knowledge, appreciation and caring for the environment and, more important, is fundamental to human health and well-being. Therefore KEC promotes opportunities for positive experiences for adults and children within the natural areas that surround us.
Friends of the Kent Bog
This informal group is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Tom S. Cooperrider Kent Bog State Nature Preserve for the education, enjoyment and inspiration of present and future generations. For more information, visit us on Facebook.
Toward the goal of spreading the word about the gift of nature we have in the community, friends of the bog write letters to the news media and legislators and speak at public meetings that deal with the preserve. They distribute trail guides that point out interesting plants and animals that may be seen in the preserve during each season of the year. Friends of the bog also serve as greeters and docents during special events at the preserve. Communication is through email, occasional post card mailings and meetings. For a video tour of the bog, click here.
Haymaker Parkway Adopt-a-Spot
The area on the north side of Haymaker Parkway between Mantua and River streets is
maintained by KEC members and friends, with leadership by Bob Wilson and Helen Green. Green has been lending her horticultural skills, labor and encouragement for three years (driving from Geauga County to plant and offer guidance). Wilson supports the project with the use of his truck for mulching and hauling weeds. Longtime KEC member Sherry Gedeon has donated plants.
KEC continues to maintain its section of the parkway and encourages the city of Kent to maintain the remainder of the parkway (which was landscaped by KEC members and friends in the mid-1990s). Donations of perennials, especially those that are drought-tolerant, are always welcome. Native plants are preferable but not essential. Nothing from the invasive-species list, please.
This is a labor-intensive project and more volunteers are needed to help maintain the area with weeding, pruning and planting. Also needed are signs to announce when KEC is working at the site.
Ann Ward (330-285-0899)
This focus area reflects a commitment to building access to local food in Portage County by supporting local farmers’ markets, school gardens, and other local non-profits focused on the intersection of food and sustainability.
KEC members involved in the local food initiative seek to support the efforts of parents and administrators in area schools to get fresh local food to students by planting school gardens. They also volunteer to help in classes alongside teachers to use school gardens as a source of nourishment for both the body and the brain.
KEC also is a member of the Portage Local Food Project. In keeping with the goals of that project, KEC has advocated for the conversion of Kent Social Services’ kitchen into a licensed and inspected facility that can be rented by food entrepreneurs to produce food for sale at markets and other outlets.
Partnerships with area farmers’ markets support programming that increases access to fresh local food for low-income community members. KEC underwrote the purchase of the equipment needed to launch the SNAP program at Haymaker Farmers’ Market in Kent so that customers receiving food-assistance benefits can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables with their Ohio Direction Card. KEC also underwrote the first month of the SNAP double-value days at the market.
Most recently, KEC has supported the growth of Edible Kent and their conversion of garden beds to edible plantings around Kent. These plants and the food they produce are then available to the public on an as needed basis, and the newest beds will help to supplement the produce available to Kent Social Services.
This focus area reflects a commitment to protecting and restoring local aquatic treasures
with public participation. Related projects include stewardship of the Cuyahoga River watershed and tributaries, the Kent Bog, local parks and nature preserves, and wetlands.
KEC seeks to identify existing and emerging threats to area lakes, rivers and streams and then identify the causes and sources of these problems. The organization, for example, participated in the development and completion of the Middle Cuyahoga Watershed Plan, along with other citizens and all local governments in the western Portage County watershed that extends into Summit County, and seeks to involve citizens and local governments in focusing on high-priority issues.
A broader public understanding of the importance of clean waterways has been achieved by monitoring issues and educating the public about them.
KEC continually celebrates the Cuyahoga River as part of the area’s natural heritage and seeks ways for the community to enjoy recreation and the benefits of a free-flowing river through canoeing, kayaking, fishing and hiking. Each year, KEC works with the Kent Parks and Recreation Department and other organizations to plan River Day festivities to involve families in nature activities.