Linda Lovett has helped lead sustainability efforts in our community for the past 10 years. She has served on the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Steering Committee since it was formed in 2007.
Linda, what in your background led you to be interested in volunteering with the Sustainability Coalition?
I have been an environmentalist for as long as I can remember. As a Girl Scout, I planted trees on the first Earth Day in 1970. Growing up in Seattle, my main concern was to protect and preserve the beautiful places and wildlife where I enjoyed hiking and camping with my family and friends. However, as I got older and moved to other parts of the country (Chicago and Washington D.C. areas), I was exposed to the environmental problems of more urban communities and saw how they intersect with issues of social and economic equity. I am drawn to the Coalition because it uses a concept of sustainability that encompasses all three realms—environmental, social and economic—and considers them inter-related and inter-dependent. I believe this is a more realistic, pragmatic approach to achieving goals than focusing solely on one area.
When and why did you decide to volunteer with the Coalition?
I have been working with the Coalition since its founding in 2007. At that time, I worked for the City of Corvallis as its Sustainability Supervisor, so I represented the City on the Steering Committee. In that capacity, I helped with the Coalition’s development as an organization and with the community-wide planning process that led to the Community Sustainability Action Plan. When my City job ended in 2012, I wanted to remain on the Steering Committee as a Member at Large so that I could see specific projects through and work with the organization in ways that I was not able to when I was representing the City.
What do you feel is the impact of your volunteer work on the community?
My role with the Coalition has been more in the realm of policy and organizational development than in working with a particular action team, so it is sometimes hard to see the measurable impact. However, since I have been with the Coalition for 10 years, I have seen some of the seeds that I have planted bear fruit, particularly in the area of energy conservation and climate change. While working for the City, I facilitated the contact between the Energy Trust of Oregon and the Coalition that led to the Corvallis Energy Challenge in 2008. Based on the success of that program, I nominated Corvallis for EPA Green Power Community of the Year and worked with the Corvallis Environmental Center, OSU-Benton County Extension and The Resource Innovation Group to win an EPA Climate Showcase Communities grant of $492,000 for energy conservation programs. While many other people worked to develop and implement those programs, I believe my policy work helped lay the solid foundation upon which they were built.
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your volunteer work?
I am most interested in broadening the Coalition’s outreach and taking the sustainability message to individuals and organizations that have not typically been involved with environmental or sustainability issues. Many people still believe having a more sustainable lifestyle means depriving themselves of things they want, whereas I believe one can live more sustainably by doing many of the same things in a more efficient, safer, and/or cost-effective way. I believe that there are many paths to sustainability and that we should encourage them all rather than be judgmental and apply litmus tests on particular issues.
Is there a special project or event that comes to mind when you think of your work with the Coalition?
The most important project I have been involved with is the City’s Climate Action Plan. I chaired and represented the Coalition on the grassroots Corvallis Climate Action Plan Task Force (CAPTF), which also included 350Corvalls, Citizens Climate Lobby, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters. The CAPTF and Coalition succeeded in persuading the City Council to adopt a climate action goal for its 2015-16 term, which resulted in the Climate Action Plan that the Council adopted in December 2016. I was recently appointed to the City’s Climate Action Task Force to work on the implementation stage of the plan.
What has been the most fulfilling aspect of your work with the Coalition?
Being part of a diverse community with a shared vision of the future has been the most fulfilling aspect of my work with the Coalition. If I want to learn about a topic or resources in our community, I know there are people in the Coalition with deep expertise who are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge. Likewise, it is important to me to give back to the community, as I am able. Trying to live more sustainably is a constant process and we are all in different places, but I have found Coalition members to be open to new ideas and supportive of each other’s journeys.
Thank you, Linda, for your many contributions to the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and to the community!
Volunteer Spotlight recognizes the contributions of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s longstanding volunteer leaders. There are many ways you can help. Learn more about our projects and events, see our current volunteer opportunities and sign up to volunteer!