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Sustainable Shepherdstown building awareness

By Staff | Dec 17, 2010

One local group in the community, while in its infancy, is trying to make an impact in the town’s sustainable future.

Sustainable Shepherdstown is a group that formed earlier this year to work the community towards a “transition town” status, said Ruth Raubertas, one of the group’s founding members.

Transition United States helps is part of a “grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis,” according to its website.

There are a few criterion Shepherdstown would have to accomplish before it drops “Sustainable” to become “Transition Shepherdstown.”

A steering group, established to drive the project forward, has already been created. The group also wants to raise awareness and lay the foundation by networking with existing groups.

Raubertas and Laurel Parker, another Sustainable Shepherdstown member, said there is a concern in the country about peak oil and limited renewable resources.

“It’s a movement to try to educate the public about that and to try to find solutions,” Parker said.

The group tries to build awareness across the community through film series and volunteering its time at events throughout town, like at November’s American Conservation Film Festival. The group is also working to eventually set up a green forum so different citizens can get together and discuss the betterment of the community, Parker said.

Raubertas sees it as an opportunity for people and groups to come together that Sustainable Shepherdstown supports and showcase their viewpoints.

“It’s about living in a more harmonious way,” Parker said.

But these members don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk in their own daily lives.

“As separate members we do a lot in our own individual lives,” Parker said.

Parker and Karen Valentine recently opened The Source, a green epicenter in Shepherdstown, located on Princess Street, where community members can purchase green cleaning supplies, recycle produces and fill water bottles up with spring water, among other things. She is also involved in the Habitat and Roots and Shoots program at area schools and encourages her own family to live as green as possible.

“I personally feel like I’ve been given a lot from this earth and I want to give back,” Parker said.

Raubertas and her husband, Mike, built an energy-efficient house, equipped with passive and active solar power and a geothermal heat pump as well as permacultural which ensures sustainability through ecological design through human interactions features.

As part of permaculture the Raubertases grow a lot of their own vegetables and herbs in their own garden and have chickens to produce eggs as well as fertilize the garden.

“You make the most of interconnectedness,” Raubertas said.

But as Sustainable Shepherdstown members take lessons they have followed in their daily lives into the community, they hope to spread awareness as well as show the films and engage with other community groups.

“I think everything has an effect,” Parker said about reaching out to others in the community.