Begun as a pilot program in 2011, the Lakewood Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative aims to promote green living standards through civic engagement and community wellness. Residents enrolled through targeted neighborhoods develop fun and engaging events in the spirit of the city’s sustainability goals, while at the same time building a stronger sense of community.
The Sustainable Neighborhood Program or SNP focuses on five categories (energy, air, water, land, people) to guide the selection of workshops and initiatives. There are currently eight Lakewood neighborhoods involved in the program, which has now been copied by fourteen other Denver-area cities.
Neighborhoods that would like to participate in the program must first apply and follow several steps. Initially, staff must connect with community leaders to survey residents about their interests and concerns. For example, the Belmar community chose alternative transportation, health and wellness and sustainable home energy as focal points. Staff and neighborhood leaders select initiatives that best align with the needs of the community. Goals are discussed and implemented. Finally, the launch communications begin by branding and marketing via social media, or sites such as Nextdoor.com. After completing the steps above, community members are encouraged to start participating in workshops and special events.
Residents in each neighborhood host workshops and complete projects that advance sustainability, enhance livability and reduce ecological footprint, earning points that are used to rate performance. Southern Gables partnered with Denver Urban Gardens and Local Schools to get their hands dirty building community gardens, while Eiber residents started “Bike to the Rockies” to improve heart health and wellness. As the program expands, communities can partner with local business owners to offer expertise on sustainability and home ownership.
For more information visit https://sustainableneighborhoodnetwork.org/sustainable-neighborhoods-lakewood