You can never really know if the buzz you are hearing in a neighborhood will successfully turn into action-but for Sustainable Renton, that is exactly what happened.
Launched a year and half ago, the organization is busy, planning speaker events, building connections to community gardens, and supporting the local food system.
Sometimes, in their enthusiasm, new community organizations can become overwhelmed with ideas and projects, especially when their mission is to "Foster a healthier community and earth." And Sustainable Renton did not lack ideas at their start, according to Chris Conkling, the President of Sustainable Renton.
But they did not succumb to them. Instead, they focused in on a theme and put all their energies into that: Sustainable Local Food Systems.
With this focus, they respond to people's interests, building connections to community gardens and other sustainable resources.
"We are excited to connect people with resources," says Conkling. "We want to become a warehouse for this information."
To collect that information, they actively build relationships with area organizations, colleges, and experts in the region. These relationships also help them continue to build support for their projects.
Last year, an intern from Seattle University worked with Sustainable Renton to build grant and community support for the Sunset Community Garden, located in Northeast Renton. This year, the garden is at 100% capacity, in part
Breaking Ground at Sunset Community Garden
due to the community's interest as well as Sustainable Renton's effort to get the word out.
Now, Sustainable Renton is hearing strong interest from area churches around community gardens. Conkling says the organization is specifically interested in supporting efforts in the Benson area because it is currently lacking access to a garden.
The organization will primarily support these gardens by connecting them with resources at Seattle University and getting the word out to the community.
Right now, Sustainable Renton is looking ahead to a new community garden project, building on the model put forth by 21 Acres in Woodinville and the Beacon Hill Food Forest.
They are currently working to gain community input and support for the project. The organization will hold a community meeting in the next month and a half to provide a space for brainstorming about what the community farm could look like. Like the other community farm projects, this project needs long-term community investment to become a reality.
A key to the organization's success around building support is the community partnerships-and the fact that they listen to what people need.
In conjunction with the partnerships, this listening helps Sustainable Renton put on popular speaker events that provide free information and resources. A recent well-attended event focused on seed starting education-and sent home attendees with some seeds to plant in their own yards!
To find out more about this thriving organization, check out their Facebook or their active blog. Above all, this organization shows what can be done when you come to people where they are, whether it is in their interests or their inboxes.
Interested in learning more about how to feasibly connect people with resources in your neighborhood, contact Chris.