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Who We Are

Greensburg GreenTown is a charitable nonprofit organization working in Greensburg, Kansas to rebuild the town following the devastating tornado in May of 2007. The town has made a remarkable comeback, reinventing itself as a model for sustainable building and green living now recognized around the world. GreenTown works to make green building and living easily understood, appealing and accessible to all.

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Friday
Feb192016

Green Town - The Book!

   



We are happy to share the news that Green Town USA is available! Author Thomas J. Fox did extensive interviewing of folks who were integral to Greensburg's green recovery, and has done a masterful job of telling the story of the genesis of the Green Initiative. I wept as I read the opening chapters and relived how Greensburg took the tragedy of May 4, 2007 and transformed the town into the inspiring beacon hope on the Kansas plains that it is today.

Now, six years later, Greensburg is ready to teach the rest of us how to do it. Green Town USA provides a roadmap that will help us use the experiences of Greensburg to transform our own communities. We don't have to wait for tragedy to begin this process of change. from the Foreward by Alex Wilson

GreenTown's executive director and co-founder, Daniel Wallach, offers his dream for the future of Greensburg, GreenTown, and the world in the book's Introduction:

My dream now . . . is to see communities around the country (and the world) come together to tackle challenges with a zest and a loving commitment to future generations, to preserve this astoundingly beautiful planet and the very systems that make life possible. I hope that reading this excellent book helps move you in that direction and most of all gives you a sense of optimism and awareness of the power of your vision and impact that you can, and will, have.

You can purchase Green Town USA at your local independent bookseller or online.

Wednesday
Feb172016

We are working on updating this site!

A lot of changes happening with Greensburg GreenTown, we will be back soon to fill you in with more details!

Friday
Jul182014

As we say goodbye

Life is a funny thing. People come into it, people go out of it, and everything revolves around change. Change is the only constant we will ever experience. For the past seven years, Greensburg GreenTown has been evolving and changing. Interns come, interns go, and Greensburg GreenTown continues to help others and provide guidance and assistance.

We have reached a time where we have to yet again say goodbye to two of our interns. However, the difference this time is that we will not be welcoming in new AmeriCorps interns; Jana and Jason will be our last. So now, as a part of that changing process, we can reflect and look back on their time with us and the impact all of our interns have had on our organization. All ten of our AmeriCorps Interns came from different corners of the nation, all sharing that desire to learn, give, and make a meaningful impact on Greensburg and other disaster communities. Each one of them brought different talents and perspectives, and each immensely supported the Greensburg community and sustainable disaster recovery effort. They are a great group of folks with big hearts and even bigger ambitions.

In addition to the interns, Daniel, Catherine, and Ruth Ann have been the strong constants that have experienced all of the change of interns and continue to encourage, enlighten, and support others. They are undeniably incredible people who deserve a magnitude of appreciation.

So while change can feel hard, uncomfortable, or cumbersome, the people you meet and the impact you can make is worth it all. Greensburg GreenTown always wants to help as many people as possible, and we hope that that is something that will never change.

Thank you to all those who continue to support our organization. It’s that support that keeps us moving!

Wednesday
Jan222014

Greening Greensburg by Peter Brewitt of Orion Magazine

Over the summer, the Greensburg GreenTown team and folks in the Greensburg community had the pleasure of meeting Peter Brewitt, a writer for Orion magazine. Peter visited to learn the comprehensive story of the town and gather information to write an article for the magazine. Well a few months later, the article has been released, and we think it's great! Peter did a great job of illustrating the revival process and capturing the impressive strides Greensburg has taken. We strongly encourage you to read his article and listen to the audio slideshow he helped put together. Thank you, Peter, for visiting and helping us share Greensburg's bountiful stories of rejuvenation! 

Wednesday
Dec182013

Greensburg GreenTown 2013 Year in Review

2013 marks a year of great visitors, experiences, and lessons for the GreenTown family. We continue to be a proud member of the Greensburg community and share the inspiring story of Greensburg’s rejuvenation and community union. If you have not had a chance to visit us in the Silo Eco-Home, let us share with you some of the impactful moments from 2013.

As many readers know, sustainability and disaster recovery are our focus, and we do this on multiple scales. We love having Greensburg as our foundation with the added ability to reach out to other disaster-struck communities from the comforts of our local office. We hated to see the disaster community grow this year due to this year’s floods, tornados and wildfires, but we are honored to be welcomed into these communities and provide assistance to those in need. We have lent our support to folks who faced flooding in Colorado and tornadoes in Oklahoma last spring, and have reached out to several cities in Illinois and Indiana that were devastated by tornadoes last month. With each community we work with we illustrate Greensburg as an example of triumph. Additionally, our affiliate in Joplin is helping the community on its road to recovery, providing valuable optimism and resources.

Another significant aspect of the recovery process is continual support and discussion. Tourism helps both of these elements. Greensburg GreenTown has had many great visitors this past year, expanding from all corners of the United States and around the globe. We have had amazing tours with countless schools and their incredible students, as well as working with many international visitors from Japan, China, Denmark, Moldova, Canada, and other countries. Each visitor has brought with them new ideas and captivating stories, a true gift for us. One of the most influential visitors we had this year came from Orlando, Florida. Debbie Petersen, a Walt Disney Imagineer, met with GreenTown, the community, and students to help ‘Imagineer’ Greensburg’s next steps.  Her cheerful optimism and creative insight left us with great ideas to further discuss.

GreenTown is continually working on projects to spread the idea of sustainable disaster recovery - locally, nationally, and globally. Our second annual Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference in St. Louis was a huge success, bringing together national representatives, organizations, and leaders to build a stronger disaster preparation and recovery network. GreenTown is also working on the Sustainable Disaster Recovery Handbook, an invaluable resource to be put immediately into the hands of residents who face a disaster. The handbook will be available Spring 2014, but we encourage you to look at the editorial version available at afsnetwork.squarespace.com.

Greensburg will forever be the town that sparked the “rebuilding  green” idea, but the vision isn’t stopping there. We often ask ourselves, “What can GreenTown do next?” We encourage your participation, suggestions, and support to help us answer this question. We could not be any more proud of our accomplishments in 2013, and we are driven to make 2014 even more successful. Our hope is that the local Greensburg community and Greensburg GreenTown can further strengthen our relationship as we work here in the community and help with the renewal of other towns like ours. Please check out our website at greensburggreentown.org or visit us at the Silo Eco-Home to see how you can get involved!

On behalf of Greensburg GreenTown, thank you and Happy Holidays!





 

Monday
Dec162013

GreenTown Joplin Year in Review

Our GreenTown Joplin affiliate has pulled together a list of its accomplishments for the year. We are happy to report that we reached a lot of people in Joplin with our sustainability message in 2013 - thanks to our staff, an amazing local advisory group, and dedicated student interns. We invite you to check out what they’ve been up to in this Year in Review report and to head over to the website to read more. Thank you for your interest and support this year!

Monday
Oct142013

The Latest on the Conference

 

We're a month away from the 2nd Annual Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference. We are pleased to be able to offer such a rich program featuring experts from around the country, including representatives from several communities recovering from major disasters. REGISTER HERE.

Folks representing Joplin; Greensburg; Breezy Point, New York; Fort Collins, Colorado; West Liberty, Kentucky; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma will make presentations. Each area, of course, is in a different stage of recovery and speakers will share both the pitfalls and successes of their respective community's comeback stories. The conference will be rounded out with experts from government, the private sector, the green building industry, and recovery organizations. Here's the FULL PROGRAM.

Who should attend? The conference will be of special interest to local, state, and federal leadership involved in disaster planning and recovery; emergency management personnel; nonprofit organization staff; instructors and students; people working in all fields related to sustainability and resilience; and folks who want to be inspired by what's happening throughout the country as communities come back from disastrous events. In addition to being able to learn from dynamic speakers, attendees will benefit from ample networking opportunities.

Here's the text of the press release we sent out today with all the pertinent information you need. We hope you can join us in St. Louis November 14-15!

 

 

Monday
Sep092013

Mark Your Calendar - November 14-15!

 

We're gearing up for the second annual Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference on Thursday and Friday, November 14-15. GreenTown is working alongside the Saint Louis University Center for Sustainability to bring you an excellent lineup of speakers for the event, which will once again be held on the SLU campus in St. Louis. This year there will be two tracks - planning and recovery - and we aim to attract planning professionals, disaster recovery personnel, folks from disaster areas, and students to all come together to share experiences and learn from each other.

You can register here - the fee is a very reasonable $200. Students may attend for $40. The fees include all meals and breaks for the two-day event.

If you are a vendor who would like to exhibit at the event - please check out the benefits of sponsorship from $500 - $5,000+. This is a great opportunity to meet with a national audience, including people who are in positions of decision-making about products and services.

We are confirming speakers daily - so far our featured speakers include:

  • Lisa LaDue, Assistant Director of Field Education, School of Social Work, Colorado State University - Personal and Community Resilience
  • David Greenwell, City Councilman, Ward 5, Oklahoma City; Steve Eggleston, Region VII Disaster Coordinator, U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and Eliza Hotchkiss, Project Lead, U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) - The Role of Government in Sustainable Disaster Recovery
  • Ashley Fallon, Program Coordinator, Breezy Point Green Committee, New York - Hurricane Sandy and Breezy Point
  • Tim Conley, Morgan County Judge Executive and Bobby Clark, Director of Business Development, Midwest Clean Energy, representing West Liberty, Kentucky - Rebuilding West Liberty, Kentucky
  • Andrew Murray and PGAV colleagues - a planning, architecture and design firm, St. Louis - Planning and Financing Recovery Projects
  • John Pyron, Director, Missouri Disaster Case Management Program, Lutheran Family & Children's Services of Missouri and Monica McFee, Community Liaison, Long Term Recovery Committee, United Way of Greater St. Louis - Long-Term Recovery
  • Rob Williams, Central & Eastern U.S. Earthquake Program Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey and Phyllis Steckel, Consultant, Earthquake Insight - Earthquake Hazards in the Central U.S.: What Keeps Geologists Awake at Night
  • Heriberto Urby and Jack Rozdilsky, Assistant Professors, Western Illinois University Department of Emergency Management - The Importance of Introducing Innovative Concepts Early in the Recovery Process
  • David Webb, Program Manager for the Saint Louis University Center for Sustainability - Introduction to Sustainability and Sustainable Disaster Recovery
  • Daniel Wallach, Joah Bussert, and Jason Culbertson, Greensburg GreenTown - Introducing the Sustainable Disaster Recovery Handbook

We will continue to post updates both here and on the conference Facebook page - be sure to "like" the page, and check "get notifications" to keep informed. We hope you will join us. If last year's event is any indication of how this year will turn out, it will be a rich learning experience.

Friday
Sep062013

Imagineering Greensburg with Disney's Debbie Petersen

 

Last weekend, Greensburg hosted the creative and insightful Debbie Petersen, a Walt Disney Imagineer and the Executive Creative Director of Disney in Orlando, Florida.

Imagineers are given an allowance to explore anywhere around the world or take part in any activity that would inspire their creativity. After hearing an interview on the radio about local business Studio 54 and Scott and Susan Reinecke’s reuse of tornado glass to fashion works of art, a visit to Greensburg resonated with Debbie. As she familiarized herself with the town's history, she became fascinated with its art, innovation, and ingenuity.

While in Greensburg, visiting Studio 54 was essential, but Debbie also wanted to speak with the community and understand how Greensburg came to be what it is today. She toured the town, spoke with middle school students at Kiowa County Schools, and started gaining a better idea of the process Greensburg took to come back as a sustainable community.

Debbie also presented at two community sessions, held at Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, that enabled the public to learn about her background and her 36-year career with the company, and the history of the Disney amusement parks. Along with GreenTown Executive Director Daniel Wallach, she also opened up the room for a discussion about how to 'Imagineer' the next steps for Greensburg.

She related her work to that of the Greensburg community, and provided insight into the realities of being a model community, or brand, like Disney. During the discussion, one community member observed that "Greensburg is like the EPCOT of the prairie." (EPCOT is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, originally envisioned by Walt Disney as a Utopian city of the future, located on the Walt Disney World campus in Florida.) Debbie, a member of the EPCOT team, really appreciated this concept and encouraged residents to continue thinking in this fashion. Disney had said that EPCOT "will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems," much like the vision of Greensburg and the Green Initiative. Debbie added that Disney is about storytelling and providing the opportunity for people to be a part of those stories. Greensburg has the capability to be a storyteller by bringing people in, sharing stories of the past, and educating visitors on the future plans of community rejuvenation and sustainable development. Greensburg serves as the experimental training ground of tomorrow, and that is done by recognizing that there are great Imagineers living within the community. This town is built to innovate, and this innovation requires a team of visionaries.

Debbie concluded by noting that by "combining the perfect blend of creativity and technical know-how, personal connections can be made and everything will come together to tell one sweeping story." These closing remarks were as much about Greensburg as they were about Disney. It is important to take risks, bring people together, and challenge questions from local people along the lines of, "Why would anyone want to come to Greensburg?" Greensburg is the Tomorrowland of sustainable communities, so why wouldn't you want to visit?

GreenTown is soliciting input from the community to find the best way to continue this conversation.

Tuesday
Aug132013

Good News About Insurance for "Green" Homes

 

This article was contributed by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley. 

Reducing Risk in the Sustainable Community

The Greensburg story of recovery is amazing. The community's emergence from the nearly total devastation of the May 4, 2007, tornado, and its dedication since then to sustainable building has been inspiring.

The good news for homeowners who have rebuilt their homes with sustainable materials and systems, is that many of the tenets of sustainable building also reduce your home’s risk of being damaged due to severe weather and other unexpected events. Furthermore, homes that are at a lower risk for damage also often qualify for the most preferred homeowners insurance policies- translating to the most comprehensive coverage and competitive rates.

Folks in Greensburg – the town with the most LEED-certified buildings per capita in the world – know something that other people across the country probably don't. Construction of homes with sustainable materials, when green design is included from the beginning of a project, costs only about 2% more than conventional construction. That's according to a study done for more than 40 California state agencies. That additional cost is more than recovered over the life of a green home due to lower electricity and water costs alone.

Since the replacement cost of a home greatly affects the amount of coverage a homeowner must purchase, insurance carriers typically require homeowners who want their homes rebuilt with green materials to purchase an endorsement on their policy to cover additional costs in the event of a claim. While this can slightly increase the cost of insurance, carriers help to counteract that additional cost by offering some green certified homes a 5% discount.

On top of that, green homes typically also qualify for preferred policies, which equates to better premiums.

  • For example, one way that homes gain points toward LEED certification is by having roofs that are constructed with reflective aluminum or steel on 75% of their surface. Those roofs also prove to be fire resistant and highly durable against weather conditions such as wind and hail. Even a non-LEED certified home that is built with new energy efficient roofing materials can qualify for a preferred policy.
  • Green homes also typically employ water-efficient toilets and other updated plumbing to reduce the amount of water they use. Because modern plumbing systems also reduce the chances of a burst pipe or other incident that could lead to costly water damage, insurers consider them lower risks.
  • Sustainable homes usually employ updated electrical and HVAC systems designed to use less energy. Modern systems also greatly reduce the risk of house fires, one of the most costly sources of residential insurance claims each year.

All in all, sustainable building can help lower an individual homeowner's costs. In addition, it may also help lower rates across the entire market. Insurance carriers' rates are based on being able to cover their losses in the event of a claim. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reported that 92% of the $62 billion paid in homeowners insurance premiums in 2011 went towards paying claims. If sustainable construction reduces the frequency and severity of claims filed, it just may help throttle future rate hikes.

Green home owners who want to take advantage of all available homeowners insurance discounts should talk to their insurance agent about the discounts and coverage options available to them.

image credit: sfgate.com