Editor’s Note: This week we’ll be featuring stories of people working to make a difference either at home, working with students, in the community, or working within local governments. The Green Awards were sponsored by Green Giant and the winner received $25,000 to continue and expand their work. The runner-up finalists each received a $2,500 prize. The project was supported by Green Giant and 19 environmental organizations, including Bioneers, the Rainforest Alliance and the Nature Conservancy. For more information on these and other Green Awards finalists and winners, please visit www.thegreenawards.com.
Treating wastewater in most communities is an expensive and energy-consuming process. In Santa Rosa, they are working to reduce the costs and amount of energy used and also increase biogas production at the same time. As Caden Hare describes The F.A.B. Project, “We use sunlight and aquatic plants to remove nitrogen and pharmaceuticals from wastewater. Next, we harvest the plants, add local organic waste and make biogas for electricity. We then use the leftover waste as a fertilizer to grow healthier strawberries.” Additionally, they plan on using the money from winning the Green Awards to continue research in three other projects — developing new sources of biogas, scaling up their wastewater scrubber, and using other waste products to remove phosphorus from the wastewater.
The first finalist is R.T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota who is working to expand the bike share program Nice Ride Minnesota. The program is a non-profit business and is looking to expand to 700 bikes with 73 stations. They already offer discounts to low income residents. Bike sharing has proven to be popular in several major cities around the world and Minneapolis is hoping to continue to that trend.
The second finalist in the Green Civic Award project is another mayor. Bruce Carlos Delgado of Marina, California wants to preserve the wilderness beauty of a stretch of land that previously belonged to the U.S. Army as Fort Ord. The land was turned over to the City of Marina, and they would like to plant native vegetation including live oak, Monterey cypress and lupine to ensure that its natural beauty will exist for generations.