Forum to examine educators’ role in a sustainable community

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By Jesse Osbourne

How does Washington County live up to the challenge of being Kentucky’s greenest, most sustainable rural community?

Sister Claire McGowan, founder of the New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future, said she knows what the answer isn’t.
“That’s a huge challenge,” she said. “I don’t pretend to know how to pull that off, nor do I think anybody else in the community knows how to pull it off alone. But I think if we work together, we can do something amazingly exciting. Not only for ourselves, but for our state, in leading the way.”
The New Pioneers are hosting another community forum at the Springfield campus of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.
The previous forum in the “Moving Forward” series featured a painter, a poet and musician.
“Each of them was excellent on their own, and the conversation among the three of them was very interesting,” she said. “Perhaps the most interesting part was the amount of participation on the part of the audience.”
The conversation, she said, turned toward the simple arts.
“‘How do you fix a lamp that’s broken?’ Or ‘how do you change a tire?’ Or ‘how do you bake a pie?’ Those are the only homegrown kind of arts that many of our young children, our young people, are not learning,” she said.
McGowan said she sensed that people have a yearning to talk about things that matter.
“And we don’t have a lot of opportunities to do that because there’s so much division, whether it’s political or religious, or there’s so many ways that our country is divided right now that we avoid talking about the things that might be conflictual,” she said. “This is an opportunity to come together as a community and talk about things that can make a difference.”
The idea of a time and place open to important conversation is the purpose of the series of forums, she said.
McGowan said she hopes the upcoming forum will “sharpen the focus of the folks there on what a sustainable rural community looks like.”
The forum, titled “The Role of Elementary Schools in Building a Sustainable Community,” will feature three panelists. Among those are Cathy Burns, Belle Sutton and Pam Breunig.
The forum begins at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the Springfield campus of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. Admission is free.