Etna celebrates EcoDistrict Day -

Etna celebrates EcoDistrict Day

Monday, December 16, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Etna Mayor Thomas Rengers proclaimed Dec. 11 Etna EcoDistrict Day, in celebration of the borough’s recognition as the world’s first certified EcoDistrict by the Portland, Ore.-based EcoDistricts organization.

“Ecodistricts are comprised of enjoyable places to build community goals for reducing the community’s environmental footprint, actions that improve the quality of life for all and indicators to measure progress,” states the Etna EcoDistrict Plan, unveiled Dec. 11 at Etna’s Fugh Hall.

One-hundred twenty-five registered for the launch party; organizers changed event locations from the initial Lawrenceville-based Tree Pittsburgh site to accommodate the large number of registrants.

“It is so special to be able to celebrate and reflect on everybody’s work along the way,” Alexis Boytim, Etna Community Organization (ECO) director told the crowd. “Thank you so much for coming.”

Rengers said that, over the last three years, ECO had stewarded the EcoDistrict education and planning process with more than 350 people at 35 events.

The process focused on “social equity, community resiliency and environmental stewardship to gather community input for the formalized Etna EcoDistrict Plan,” Rengers said. The document focuses on water quality, energy efficiency, mobility, air quality, food access and equity.

“I just want to thank everybody for your work and for being engaged,” State Sen. Lindsey Williams said.

State Rep. Sara Innamorato noted that “big changes start small.” She said that “plans need to turn into actions” and encouraged attendees to bring their neighbors to the next EcoDistrict meeting.

The plan is the result of multi-municipal collaboration through the Triboro Ecodistrict, composed of projects in Etna, Millvale and Sharpsburg.

Brittany Reno, Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization executive director, said that a rivalry previously had existed between Etna and Sharpsburg. “We make so much better friends than rivals,” she said of the “unstoppable” relationship they have formed through the Triboro.”

The evening’s speakers also thanked Etna Borough, the Etna Economic Development Corp., New Sun Rising, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, evolveEA Sustainable Architecture & Consulting Firm, volunteers and elected officials for making the plan and certification possible.

Darla Cravotta, Allegheny County community relations and special projects director, said that a “git-r-done attitude exists in this community.”

Etna Manager Mary Ellen Ramage taught her years ago to “leave it better than I found it,” the county employee said.

Guests viewed a short Etna EcoDistrict documentary developed by Boytim and ECO board member Robert Tunon, with contributions from Heather Mallak.

Planners presented business owners, elected officials, residents and volunteers awards for going above and beyond to support the EcoDistrict.

View the plan at: