As the last days of 2012 draw to a close, I'm going to be posting a series of stories about people who are finding innovative solutions to environmental problems. These folks are thinking outside the box, taking risks and trying to make the world around them greener in new and unusual ways.
I'm calling them "Outside The Box Stars," and in each story you'll find a person or a group of people who are crafting a new approach to unresolved environmental issues.
I did a lot of brainstorming about who to include in this series. I came up with a long list of candidates among the people I've reported on in the past few years: Farmers who volunteer to monitor and reduce their own pesticide use beyond what the Clean Water Act requires, a nonprofit that supports strong runs of salmon instead of trying to save endangered ones, environmentalists trying to develop a sustainable logging business ... the list went on and on.
I settled on six projects that involve Oregonians pushing the limits of what individuals can do to improve the environment. They include:
- Service sorority sisters who are turning a contaminated gas station into a community center that meets the ultimate green building standards;
- Sport fishers collecting used Christmas trees and turning them into salmon habitat;
- A woman who spurred her neighbors to negotiate their own clean air deal with a local polluter;
- A man who is trying to keep his family forest intact by trading carbon credits for health care;
- A woman who pushed her employer to inventory the toxic products in her workplace; and
- Commercial fishermen who are applying the Community Supported Agriculture concept to their fisheries.
As you read their stories on Ecotrope this week, let me know if you think of any "Outside The Box Stars" in your world. I'll use your ideas to build a list that will inspire us as we head into 2013.