If you have taken a look around the city of Youngstown lately, there have been some noticeable changes. With revitalization as a main focus, various nonprofits, residents, and businesses are increasing their efforts to bring green initiatives to the city.
Panelists addressed these changes occurring in the area at the Youngstown Urban Agricultural Roundtable panel for the 2012 Sustainable Energy Forum, held at Youngstown State University on June 4 and 5.
Hailing from Southern California, Walker Wells, director for the green urbanism program at Global Green USA, noted how a partnership began here in the valley, when Wells was invited to the Forum three years ago. Wells assisted with needs such as agriculture, redevelopment codes, and zoning issues.
Wells, who moderated the discussion, introduced other speakers including Youngstown City Council President Tito Brown, who noted that. “Youngstown is embracing being a greener community.” His sentiment appears to be true. Community gardens, as he pointed out the location on Glenwood Avenue in the Idora Park neighborhood as an example of what is becoming more of a norm as citizens are utilizing empty land for green space.
Another organization bringing the issues of sustainability to the forefront is Goodness Grows of North Lima, Ohio. Steve Fortenberry, president and founder, said that his group has worked with GM Lordstown by operating gardens in empty land around the plant. Fortenberry said GM has incorporated these gardens into their employee wellness program.
Attendees also heard from Joy Johnson, grants management director at Burten, Bell, Carr, Development Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio. Johnson shared how Cleveland is becoming an agricultural hub as citizens continue to create partnerships as well as innovate new gardens and farms in urban areas.
Along with the other presentations, an important part of the agriculture panel was the group discussions. Creating dialogue is a vital way to encourage and educate others on the significance of sustainability and community.