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|Articles - October 2011|
|Thursday, September 22, 2011|
Page 7 of 15
Making it green
On a basic economic level, the school district means jobs; with about 85 employees, it’s the town’s largest employer. And a better school would attract more families and students. But beyond that, how to position the schools to be a bigger boost to the economy?
“The question was always, ‘What’s the economic future of the town?”’ says Alissa Keny-Guyer, Oregon Solutions’ program manager.
To answer that, in its 2010 strategic plan the city looked 20 years into the future and imagined that the new LEED platinum K-12 school had been a catalyst for the town’s improvement. It was now the “Bicycle Center of Oregon,” where Stub Stewart state park was connected to a thriving downtown frequented by residents and tourists, drawn by its parks and outdoor recreation. It was a town where the idea of being a “living laboratory for the natural resource economy” had become a reality and produced real, local jobs, a town where new light industry finally gained a foothold.
Two of the central ideas on how to connect the new school to a new green economy are a natural resources curriculum integrated into all subject areas for K-12 students — many of whom come from logging families — and the Vernonia Rural Sustainability Center, a set of programs — a strategy — that aims among other activities to incubate green entrepreneurs and new natural resource businesses, provide workforce training and apprenticeships for students and the community, and build relationships with research institutions.
“It’s an interesting idea with a lot of potential,” says Bruce Weber, director of Oregon State University’s rural studies program. Vernonia is in the right location for this, and “they have some visionary people. Urban people are interested in sustainability and going to Vernonia is not a big trip. If urban institutions could set up learning opportunities there, I think it could work.”
The green curriculum has been supported by $25,000 from Oregon Fish and Wildlife for salmon projects and training, donations from Big Horn Logging and Longview Timber, $10,000 from the Department of Education for teacher training, and help from the Oregon Natural Resources Educational Program. Such a curriculum is meant to prepare Vernonia students for “jobs of the future” in areas such as forestry, natural resource research and engineering design.
Vernonia schools struggle; scores for reading, math and writing generally have been below the state average. It is also a district where 40% of the students live at or below the poverty level. Along with this, a bruising economy has cut state school dollars, eliminating teachers and programs: The elementary school no longer has music; kindergarten has been cut to halftime; the middle school lost its principal and counselor, the high school its full-time athletic director.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?
Thursday, November 13, 2014
BY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Cylvia Hayes, tabloid vs. watchdog journalism and the looming threat of a Cascadia earthquake.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
We didn’t intend this issue to have an election season theme. But politics has a way of seeping into the cracks and fissures.
Thursday, October 02, 2014
More than 5,500 employees from 180 organizations throughout the state participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon project.
Monday, November 10, 2014
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.
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