Agent of Change Success Stories
Michael Hall – Powering Sustainable Change in SW Portland
After enrolling in our Agent of Change training, Michael Hall assumed the role of chair of St. Luke Lutheran’s Environmental Stewardship Committee. Under his leadership, the committee initiated the collection of non-curbside recyclables every two months. On a designated Sunday, the entire congregation was invited to bring plastic bags, rigid plastic, appliances, light bulbs, and batteries to a drop site in the parking lot. Michael’s team of volunteers then delivered them to reuse or recycling depots. The system worked so well that Michael reached out to other churches, schools, and community organizations in the area to expand the program. The original concept evolved into SW Community Recycling, a quarterly event open to the public, which is still run by volunteers.
In 2016, Michael and his committee spear-headed another great change at St. Luke’s— installation of 114 solar panels on the roof. With 40 percent of the cost covered by the Energy Trust, the committee conducted a six-month fund-raising campaign, which generated the remaining $68,000, and the panels were installed. Michael’s projects will inspire members of the church and the broader neighborhood community for years to come.
Steve Couche – The Southeast Portland Tool Library
Agent Steve Couche started the Southeast Portland Tool Library at the St. David of Wales Episcopal Church. Steve and his volunteers got a donation of shelving materials from the ReBuilding Center, worked with writers to get stories in the Sellwood Bee and Southeast Examiner, sought tools and sold raffle tickets to raise money for more tools, organized work parties to modify the space, and held a tool donation event to receive donations, register members, and sign up volunteers. The Southeast Portland Tool Library opened for business in May of 2011 and is still open and active today.
Jon Mehlschau – Greening SRG
Jon Mehlschau, an architect at SRG, used his project management skills to develop a three-step plan to advance sustainability within the office building housing his firm: (1) upgrade recycling within the building, (2) earn the BEST Climate Champions award, and (3) improve the embryonic carbon footprint assessment tool used by his firm. As a result of his efforts, the building is now recycling difficult non-curbside items such as plastic clamshells and fluorescent light bulbs, his firm purchases carbon credits for electricity use and business transportation, and bicycle commuters receive a small stipend.
Suzanne Savell - Greening the Old Time Music Event
Suzanne Savell ‘s change project was to reduce waste and raise awareness at the Portland Old Time Music Gathering, a five-day event held at venues across Portland each January. Through the efforts of Suzanne and her volunteers, guests were asked to bring their own water bottles, beer was purchased in bulk, and souvenir pint glasses were sold at the bar. All food and beverages were sold in rented glassware and flatware, and a team of volunteers collected, washed, and returned dishes to the bar. Suzanne also partnered with the Scottish Rite Center to set up a system to compost food and eating ware approved by the compost facility and to recycle aluminum and glass bottles. Waste was reduced by approximately 50 percent! The changes were so successful that Suzanne formed a green team to help her continue this project indefinitely.