G.A.L.A.’s “Sustain-A-Raisers” Wins Grand Prize in National Strong Communities Competition

Strong Communities winner
CommunityMatters and Ashoka’s Changemakers announced last Friday that Sustain-A-Raisers, a project of the non-profit organization Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.) and based in Wolfeboro, NH, is one of three grand prizewinners in the National Strong Communities: Engaging Citizens, Strengthening Place, Inspiring Change competition.


Sustain-A-Raisers received a $5,000 grand prize to put toward advancing its mission of “providing sustainable home/yard retrofits and services, or ‘raisers,’ promoting resource conservation and self-sufficiency.” G.A.L.A. Founding Director Joshua Arnold was on hand at the CommunityMatters’10 Conference in Denver to speak about his work and to accept the award. “Thank you to everyone who took the time to review our project and vote online! This was the ultimate team effort!” says Arnold.


Sustain-A-Raisers was recognized for its innovative way of using the communal barn-raising model to capitalize on volunteer energy, celebrate success and build community connections all while completing projects that enhance sustainability and training youth in green collar job skills.


So far Sustain-A-Raisers has installed approximately 50 compost bins, 40 rain barrels, and 25 clotheslines. The estimated environmental impact of these projects includes the diversion of 17,500lbs of food waste from the landfill, savings of 52,000 gallons of water during high-demand summer months, and the avoidance of nearly 45,000lbs of CO2emissions. The financial impact for those who have been touched by the Sustain-A-Raisers includes a savings of $2,750 on energy bills and $1,400 on water bills.


The Strong Communities competition was a partnership between Ashoka’s Changemakers and CommunityMatters, an initiative of the Orton Family Foundation. During the summer of 2010, CommunityMatters invited people and organizations to enter innovative, replicable, sustainable projects designed to steer change and take charge of their communities’ future.


In particular, the competition sought to recognize interdisciplinary approaches where different people, organizations and fields have come together to learn from each other and collectively solve problems.


“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the finalists,” said Bill Roper, President and CEO of the Orton Family Foundation. “Each project demonstrated exceptional interdisciplinary commitment to their communities, and we’re proud to recognize the winners for their inspiring, enduring work building strong communities.”


The other two grand prizewinners were:


Sustainable Jersey, a statewide initiative to create a LEED-style environmental certification program for towns and municipalities throughout New Jersey. The program operates as a “shadow government” and has found major success through partnerships and mayoral support.


Network Organizing, an online network in Louisville, Kentucky that allows all members of the community to proactively address issues like education and human services and the local policies that affect Louisville families.


The Foundation identified 24 semi-finalists out of 261 total entries. An independent panel of judges then selected eight finalists and invited them to attend CommunityMatters’10 to present their work. Majora Carter, President of the Majora Carter group and Founder of Sustainable South Bronx, Richard Harwood, President and Founder of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, Bonnie Shaw, Co-Founder of BYO Consulting, and Jared Duval, author and fellow at Demos in New York City served as the judges. The three winners were chosen via online public voting and announced at the culmination of CommunityMatters’10.


For more information about the Strong Communities competition or to review the semi-finalists and finalists, please visit www.communitymatters.org/strong-communities-competition. To review all competition entries, please visit www.changemakers.org/strongcommunities.

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