The federal stimulus package provided at least $60 billion dollars to develop environmentally sustainable projects. There are state incentives as well. So, the idea behind Wilmington's Green Enterprise Zone was to prepare the town to take advantage of all the funding on offer. Emily McCord sat in on a community meeting, and as part of her series, Wilmington's Homegrown Hope, she reports on how the town is moving forward with going green.
"It Takes That Generation"
This is the opposite of the scene you might expect to see. Here, two twenty-something year old guys are in the front of the room, addressing a grayer, more experienced crowd. This is the first community outreach meeting that Mark Rembert and Taylor Stuckert are holding as part of the Green Enterprise Zone.
"What I'm really impressed about is that they're not just a group of tree huggers or idealistic individuals, they're very pragmatic. And I think it's an honor to be of some small help to them," says Dave Bailey, a Clinton County Commissioner for 17 years, and now is a volunteer member of Wilmington's Green Enterprise Zone.
People come to this meeting for a lot of different reasons. Some are worried about their business, and some just want to save money. Others are more concerned about the environment. But for Kirk Knoblauch, it's much more than that.
" It's deeper thing than what we witness going on right now," says Knoblauch.
He thinks of his own life, before he heard about Mark and Taylor's ideas, and after. Kirk has been an electrician for 30 years, but he was so inspired by their green energy gospel, he's now focusing his career on solar power.
"I think that it takes that generation. That's the generation that's ushering in the greatest changes, and they'll have to deal with the changes we're leaving them. We're blessed.," says Knoblauch.
"A Community Willing To Listen"
"I told myself, this is my opportunity to finally get involved and do things for the community," says Greg Daniels.
He's been unemployed for nearly a year. He lost his job at Wilmington's airpark last June. He heard about Energize Clinton County through his church. He was curious, and decided one day to stop by their office and talk with Mark and Taylor.
"They planted the seed, have you ever thought of energy auditing? If we had an energy auditor in Clinton County we could do this. And I said, you don't have an auditor in Clinton County? Hmmmm'" says Daniels.
So, he got the training, and now is a certified energy auditor. That's why he's here tonight. Greg hopes that he can help Wilmington businesses become more efficient.
Molly Dullea owns the historic hotel and restaurant, the General Denver, and could use Greg's expertise. She's here at this meeting because she's impressed with Mark and Taylor's ideas.
"I don't know what happened that they decided to come home and do this in their community, but none of this would have happened without these two young men, or a community that was willing to listen," says Dullea.
Tomorrow, we'll head back to the General Denver on its popular Open Mic Night, and talk to Mark and Taylor about what the future holds for Wilmington, and for themselves.