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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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Greensburg's Cromwell Solar Energy Presentation 

Greensburg had a great presentation from Cromwell Solar on Tuesday evening. Cromwell Solar is out of Lawrence, Kansas and specializes in the relationship between people and the buildings and environment in which they live and work. Solar energy is a technology that Greensburg has not widely used up to this point, but solar is a great way to make Greensburg a 'greener' and 'cleaner' community to live in and visit. If you would like to learn more about the presentation Cromwell's Senior Project Developer, Ian Spomer, gave to local residents, please click on this link

Cromwell Solar on Boulevard Brewing Company


A Visit to Greensburg Will Help in the Philippines

On February 20, 2014, Greensburg GreenTown met with Thomas McAloon and Eric Chetwynd, who are affiliated with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). They were en route overseas to help in the recovery of the city of Tacloban in the Philippines. Tacloban was hit by Typhoon Haiyan on November 7 last year; the storm destroyed 90% of the community and took more than 6,000 lives throughout the Philippines. Tom and Eric will be visiting Tacloban and other ravaged cities, and will encourage, as appropriate, a restoration strategy that incorporates energy, resource and environmental conservation. They came to Greensburg to meet with community leaders and glean information from the local Green Initiative that will be useful in their work.

A boy cycles past a coffin amid scenes of devastation after typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, the Philippines.

Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Specifically, they sought to learn more about the following:

Click to read more ...


National "Shout Out For Solar" Day


Solar energy has transformed the way individuals, communities, and industries think about energy. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is "the power behind solar energy." They are strong supporters and believers of solar energy, and they are so pleased to see the widespread acceptance and growth of using the sun for energy. As a way to celebrate, they have declared today National "Shout Out for Solar" Day, and are launching their new social media campaign, America Supports Solar. We hope you will take a couple of minutes to check out some of these very encouraging statistics about the industry from SEIA's email, below.

  40 years ago today, on January 24, 1974 five people met in the noisy basement of the Washington Hilton and agreed to create the Solar Energy Industries Association, dedicated to supporting the widespread growth of solar. 

How times have changed! Today, solar is generating enough electricity to power 2 million American homes, including the White House and leading companies like Walmart, Apple, Costco, Kohl's and IKEA. SEIA is leading the fight to expand markets, remove market barriers, strengthen the industry and educate Americans about the benefits of solar energy.

In recognition of this tremendous success, hundreds of thousands of people from across the United States and around the world taking part in National “Shout Out For Solar” Day today. This first-of-its-type event is being enthusiastically supported by hundreds of business and environmental groups nationwide on FacebookTwitter and other social media platforms.

Educating Americans about the benefits of clean, reliable and affordable solar energy is at the heart of a new social media campaign, America Supports Solar, launching today. Moving forward, we will be using this platform as a way to showcase the industry’s innovations, continued growth and successes.

When all of the figures are in for 2013, solar – for the first time since the late 1980’s – is expected to account for more new electric capacity in the U.S. than any other source of renewable energy.

Every day via social media, millions of people around the world voice their support for solar energy and the enormous opportunities it provides for the future. National “Shout Out For Solar” Day will help to showcase this passion and excitement.

Thank you for all that you do,

Ken Johnson
Vice President
Solar Energy Industries Association


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! 


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!



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!


Conference Debriefing - Part One


Lisa LaDue speaks to Personal & Community Resilience

The second annual Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference is behind us, and we are pleased to report on its success. The keynote speakers were inspiring; the breakout sessions, informative; the attendees, eager to learn. We accomplished what we set out to do - namely, strengthen a national network of folks working in the disaster recovery field who will continue to share information and offer support to each other long after the conference is over. GreenTown's collaboration with the Center for Sustainability at Saint Louis University made for great synergy in this endeavor.

In coming weeks we will post photos, PowerPoints and videos of the sessions. If you were unable to attend you will still be able to take advantage of the depth of knowledge and experience offered by our presenters.

We are grateful to have had the conference covered by blogger Diane MacEachern, based in Washington, D.C. Diane wrote this fine article for Big Green Purse and we think she captured the spirit of the event quite well.

GreenTown's role in establishing a national Sustainable Disaster Recovery Network is two-pronged. As  facilitator/networker/convener we bring together folks who are working toward common goals and we help them vision what's possible in communities, post-disaster. And as information gatherer and sharer, we provide current, comprehensible, unbiased resources to individuals and communities in need. We are in the process of formalizing the infrastructure of this Network and will keep you posted here and on our Facebook page.


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!




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.


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.