I moved to Oak Park 15 years ago and am originally from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I tell you this so that you can understand why I chose Oak Park: Because it was old and I was used to old buildings, because there were a lot of trees and I was used to a green landscape, because it had the best recycling program of the neighboring suburbs. In the islands, resources are treasured, and Oak Park had the values that echoed my own. For these reasons, I would like to suggest that the village adopt a few greening concepts.

Oak Park held Green Tuesdays in the village at the library in April. During those meetings, I realized that we, the villagers, had not progressed beyond recycling in these past 15 years. The village is attempting to green its municipal activities, but a greater impact can be made if the citizens of Oak Park work toward greening their village.

Here are some recent statistics, based on census data and the UIC study (Planning Toward an Urban Ecology/Urban Planning and Policy Program/UIC):

 The residents of Oak Park own 30,756 vehicles.

 The village owns 228 vehicles.

 The residents of Oak Park use approximately 107.5 million kWh per year.

 The village uses approximately 6.3 million kWh per year.

 I estimate that villagers use 90 percent of the resources that are used in Oak Park.

I want to suggest to you that we make it our mission to “Green the Village.” Oak Park has an opportunity to act environmentally in a way that can be an example for the nation. The village can embrace the recommendations that were made by UIC students at the Green Tuesday meetings. Some of the recommendations included tree ordinances, setback requirements, and height restrictions. Would a tree ordinance that protected trees over a hundred years old have helped the residents of the 400 block of North Maple? Would a setback and height restriction make it unprofitable for a condo unit to be built at that location? The students also suggested that re-using a building be given preference over new construction. That type of preference would save the homes on Maple Street.

We can use the information learned at Green Tuesdays to take our own steps to Green the Village. My background as an islander makes each day’s use of resources a conscious decision. Should I drive or bike? Should I wash dishes in the sink or the dishwasher? Then I ask how I will manage my usage?#34;will I salvage the waste, will I offset it by creating a new resource to manage it (native plantings), or will I acknowledge that in this case I must abuse a resource?

I understand that we are busy people. What I do each day may not suit your lifestyle. When I talk to my friends about this issue, they say, “Give me something simple to do.” I will. This is it. Gas-powered leaf-blowers create more smog-producing emissions in one hour than I could generate by using my car for three weeks (the equivalent of 340 miles of emissions from a car). Talk to your lawn care supplier. Insist that they discontinue the use of leaf-blowers.

You might ask why I choose this one thing. These past few weeks of springtime in Oak Park I have noticed that every day of the week some lawn care service is blowing leaves around. Sometimes the leaf-blower operates for as much as four hours in one yard. Then I get on my bike or I get on my running shoes to avoid creating emissions from my car. I know it will take three months of my alternative transportation to offset those four hours of leaf-blowing.

One simple thing: Discontinue leaf-blowers. We have proven that we are forward-thinkers. We brought diversity to our town at a time when it was desperately needed. We can Green the Village now while it is desperately needed.

To my girlfriend who asked for one simple thing, I say: Do this one simple thing. For now.

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