Green commute competition on

Valley residents are encouraged to make their commute green in honor of Earth Week, April 17-23.

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Randy Hensel was among the team of Coffey Communications green commuters who earned first place honors in the 2010 Green Travel to Work, School & Meetings Competition sponsored by Sustainable Walla Walla.

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Courtney Doherty was among the team of Coffey Communications green commuters who earned first place honors in the 2010 Green Travel to Work, School & Meetings Competition sponsored by Sustainable Walla Walla.

Sustainable Walla Walla is a community group working to help Walla Walla become a greener, more resilient community.

The group envisions an economy and community for the Walla Walla area which is sustainable through mutual cooperation, conservation of resources, and a high degree of self reliance.

Its mission is to raise public awareness of the challenges and opportunities facing us, and to encourage area-wide planning for a renewable energy economy and a more sustainable, low-carbon community.

SuWW's current project is the area-wide Green Travel to Work, School & Meetings Competition. Registrations are now being accepted for the competition that will take place during Earth Week, April 17-23, 2011.

Businesses, agencies, schools, and organizations throughout the area are asked to encourage their employees, students and members to look for low-energy ways to get to and from work, school and meetings during the week of the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, April 22.

SuWW will be making awards to the businesses, agencies, schools and organizations with the most members or highest percentage of members using one or more green travel modes during the week.

Every individual participant in a group will also receive an "I Travel Green" button entitling them to ride free on Valley Transit all week and to discounts on Earth Day from participating merchants.

Green travel includes bike, bus, walking, carpool, scooters, and other low-energy alternatives to travel by four-wheel Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs).

Individuals will be asked to sign up with their organization's Green Travel Coordinator, agree to report how they got to work, school or organizational meetings throughout Earth Week, and pick up their "I Travel Green" buttons for free and discounted services.

SuWW was formed in March 2008, following a conference on Global Changes-Local Challenges sponsored by Whitman College, Walla Walla University and Walla Walla Community College.

The first project of the group was a well-attended community forum called "The Road Ahead" which focused on concerns about the rising price of gas, food, and other basic needs, as well as climate change and the need to transition away from declining fossil fuels as they become increasingly more scarce and expensive.

Addressing ways to ensure that all sectors of our community can adapt and prosper in a world of rapidly changing conditions and challenges, the forum moderated by WWCC President Steve featured a panel including the sustainability coordinator for the City of Spokane, a Whitman College scientist, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, a Port commissioner, the city manager, and a representative of the Homeless Coalition.

SuWW has also sponsored a Victory Garden tour, promoted classes in relearning traditional skills, offered a series of radio shows, organized weekly community conversation cafes, and coordinated weekly sustainability tips and biweekly columns in the Union-Bulletin.

A major goal of the group was the establishment of a City of Walla Walla Sustainability Committee to assure coordinated planning and actions by city government and its community partners. SuWW presented a petition signed by over 1100 people calling for the formation of the committee, which is now established and operating, with broad representation from the community.

A registration form and other information are available online at www.sustainableww.org

For more information on the competition and the benefits of traveling green, email sustainableww@charter.net, call 522-0399, or visit the Sustainable Walla Walla website at www.sustainableww.org.

Marti Buck is a speech therapist with the Umatilla-Morrow Educational Service District and chair of Sustainable Walla Walla.

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