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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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A Fond Farewell to a Delightful Soul and "Charming Gardener"

Barbara Summers and her "broccoli bouquet"

Once again at GreenTown, it's that bittersweet time of year when we say farewell to our current AmeriCorps staff and get ready to welcome the new folks. We bid a fond farewell to Barbara Summers, whose year-long tenure came to an end July 30. After a send-off party last night, she is getting ready to hit the road, taking a bit of time off before starting a masters program at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Barbara will study City and Regional Planning with an eye toward a career in helping cities become more sustainable. There is no doubt that she will excel at whatever she undertakes.

Readers of this blog are no doubt familiar with Barbara's contributions, as she has posted 20 interesting and well-researched articles during her tenure. She has introduced us to international models of sustainability in her series, Living Green Around the Globe, shared tips on such topics as energy conservation and indoor air quality, and offered updates on a variety of Greensburg projects. You can check out her entire list of featured articles here.

Barbara and fellow AmeriCorps staff person Sarah Thyparambil have been an amazing team this past year. (We are fortunate to have Sarah's services for several more weeks, so you will get to read more about her accomplishments in September.) Barbara moved to Greensburg from Ohio and Sarah from Nebraska, and they hit it off immediately. The synergy of their work together has been an enormous gift to the organization and the community. Coming from the Cleveland area, Barbara had some trepidation about moving to a small rural town where she didn't know anybody (imagine that!), but she quickly became a beloved member of the local community. In addition to her work at GreenTown, she has been active in her adopted church and has made friends with people in town of all ages. She is a delightful soul, full of enthusiasm and zest for life, with a commitment to making the world a healthier, happier place to live.

Barbara is an avid craftswoman and has added her creative touch to many projects this past year, from making decorations for GreenTown's "Recycle Christmas" to repurposing old fabric into jump ropes for our visiting Girl Scouts in April. We really can't talk about Barbara's service to GreenTown without greater mention of her work on the Girl Scouts project. She and Sarah did a yeowoman's job of organizing the community garden project and the countless details associated with hosting over 1,200 Scouts and their leaders in April. Keeping the garden healthy and watered once the girls departed has been a huge job in and of itself and has consumed a lot of Barbara's time and energy.

Every job Barbara has taken on has been done so with good cheer, great kindness, and enormous talent. From giving tours, answering phone calls, and helping Site Manager Ruth Ann Wedel with myriad projects, to traveling to Joplin to help out with our work in that community - she has made an enormous contribution to many areas of our work. We are grateful to her and for her and look forward to seeing what unfolds for Barbara in the next phase of her life.