This past fall, twenty-two cities and towns in Connecticut were recognized as the first “Sustainable CT Certified Communities” by Sustainable CT, a high-powered partnership that is working to get Connecticut’s communities thinking about their future in sustainable terms.
In April or May of this year, these 22 communities will each receive a tree from Sustainable CT in recognition of their accomplishments. The CT Tree Protective Association is supporting this effort by donating these trees, doing its part to help this initiative get off the ground.
A Little Background
In 2016 and 2017, municipal leaders and residents from across the state, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and people from non-profits, businesses and key agencies such as DEEP all got together. Their vision was to create a program that would recognize communities for acting in a way that advances sustainability – that takes stock of what they have and how they might move themselves forward. In a way that balances economic, social and environmental goals. The sustainability goals are broad and inclusive. They include such items as supporting local economies to improving transportation options to better energy planning. ‘Well-Stewarded Land and Natural Resources’ is one of the Action Areas, with ‘Managing Woodlands and Forests’ being an item within that.
Through this effort, Sustainable CT seeks to encourage more communities in the state to work consciously towards being better in the long-run. The idea from the start was to provide municipalities with a menu of coordinated, voluntary actions. Communities would select would actions to focus their efforts on, incorporating them into the way they do things, with the Sustainable CT partnership assisting with the resources and tools needed to achieve these milestones.
The Communities Response
The response from the communities has been strong. To date, 83 communities, nearly half of those in the state, are participating in the program, with 22 having reached a level of accomplishment that the organizers deem worthy of recognition. Of these 22, 5 have reached a silver level of certification (Hartford, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Stamford and Fairfield) while 17 have reach a bronze level (Bristol, Coventry, Madison, Milford, Hebron, Middletown, New Haven, New London, New Milford, Old Saybrook, Ridgefield, Roxbury, South Windsor, West Hartford, Westport, Windham and Woodbridge).
These are the communities that will be receiving a tree, along with a small plaque announcing the reason for the honor. At the same time, Sustainable CT considers this as a project that has just begun, as new communities seek to reach this first level of accomplishment and those already honored seek to move up to the next level.
For CTPA, being a part of this effort just seemed natural. What better way to symbolize sustainability than a tree planted in each sustainable community. Many of these planting will be occurring in conjunction with Arbor Day.
To learn more about Sustainable CT, please visit SustainableCT.org.