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'An Incredible Exercise in Community-Building'

Sustainable Moorestown advocates discuss how to bring the town's social, economic and environmental elements together.

Natalie Barney put up a picture of a Venn diagram on the projector, with three bubbles labeled “people,” “planet,” and “profit” intersecting in the center.

The image was supposed to represent what sustainability is all about, but Barney took issue with the depiction.

“My problem with this display is that in a Venn diagram we tend to think of elements existing independently of each other, and where they come together is the only place that they interact,” she said. “And so when we look at this we can assume that there are places where these variables don’t interact … and this is where we need to rethink how we see sustainability.”

Barney, co-chair of Sustainable Cherry Hill’s “Green Team,” spoke in front of a crowd of about 50 people Thursday night at a kickoff meeting/open house for .

The initiative aims to tie together the various economic, social and environmental elements in town.

Cherry Hill has been part of the Sustainable Jersey program for roughly two years and in that time has carried out a number of initiatives, which Barney rattled off: a cost-saving composting program, a “no mow” policy for township-owned open space that has improved stormwater management, energy audits of all township buildings, and the hiring of a business liaison to help new and existing businesses navigate the permitting process, among other things. 

Being certified by Sustainable Jersey—a goal Sustainable Moorestown has just now begun—also provides access to various grants and other funding opportunities.

But Barney identified what she believes has been the paramount benefit of the initiative: “It’s just been an incredible exercise in community-building.”

Chet Dawson, chair of Moorestown’s Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC), is spearheading Sustainable Moorestown, along with Jake DerHagopian, Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) chair, and community development director Tom Ford.

Dawson believes Moorestown is well-positioned to take advantage of the Sustainable program.

“The volunteerism in our township is very strong,” he said, adding, “We’re already well on our way to certification already.”

There are two levels of certification—bronze, then silver—which lead to the aforementioned funding opportunities. Cathy Ward, vice chair of EAC, said Sustainable Jersey provides more than $200,000 in grants a year, and they’re usually broken up into $10,000 or $25,000 chunks.

Certification is a long road however, and Dawson outlined the first step Thursday: the creation of Sustainable Moorestown’s own “Green Team,” essentially an advisory committee—with multiple subcommittees beneath it—to guide the program.

Dawson said they’re looking for an eclectic group of 10 people to sit on the Green Team—representatives from township committees and clubs, businesses, schools, church groups, etc.

Anyone interested in becoming involved can contact Dawson, DerHagopian or Ford at the following email addresses:

For information about Sustainable Cherry Hill (and to get an idea for what Sustainable Moorestown might look like), visit their website.

Dawson said he hopes to have the Green Team formed by the end of the month, with their first meeting in late April.

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