MILTON, Ga. — For a small committee, they are a busy one. Milton Grows Green, whose core group is about 15 area residents and a few more who regularly pitch in on projects, gets a lot accomplished. The idea for the committee is as old as the city of Milton itself: five years, and it’s been meeting regularly for the past four. Milton Grows Green’s function is to educate the public, encourage conservation and protection of the area’s natural resources and advocate for responsible, managed growth.
“Everything we do is a direct service to the community,” explained Jack Lindon, co-chair of Milton Grows Green. “The city has been very supportive of the programs we’ve put in place.”
Cindy Eade, the city of Milton’s sustainability coordinator, is one of the committee’s founding members, and has been employed part-time by the city for the past two years.
Previously, Milton “didn’t have a champion to go into the city…to get the initiatives organized and funded,” Eade explained. “Now, I’m an insider understanding how the city works.”
Having Eade as a staff member doesn’t change the fact that the committee’s work is very much needed.
“You can accomplish so much more with a committee than just a staff person,” she said.
Teaming up to work on environmental initiatives for the city has saved Milton money. While other cities hire people to clean up roads and streams, for example, Milton Grows Green participates in Adopt-A-Road and Adopt-A-Stream events.
It also runs or assists with several efforts in these areas such as Rivers Alive, rain barrel workshops, education and outreach, the Evergreen Schools Initiative, identifying and encouraging green building and land use standards, recycling and certain certifications and designations.
One of the designations in progress is for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Habitat Community, part of a larger project by the Atlanta Regional Commission called the Green Communities Certification.
To be certified, the city must reach 450 points, which are awarded based on over 60 different environmental criteria. Milton was well on its way at the beginning, having already met many of the needed points. Milton expects to complete the rest of the requirements, one of which is the NWF Habitat Community, by June 2013. Milton’s homes, businesses, schools, churches and other organizations agree to preserve wildlife areas to ensure that native wildlife remain in Milton.
The Milton Grows Green committee hosts annual events such as an Earth Day Festival, Christmas tree recycling and several other recycling events. It supports the city of Milton’s public works department with storm drain marking, as do area school children and Boy Scouts.
Service to the community and awareness has increased each year from Milton Grows Green’s efforts, especially since Eade has joined the community development staff.
“We’ve gotten more accomplished in the past two years than [the previous] three,” said Eade.
Lindon says Milton Grows Green is different from many city committees in that members only have to be interested in the environment to participate, rather than be appointed by a city councilmember.
“You appoint yourself,” he said. “[Any] area person with an interest in Milton can be a committee member.”