Build A Greener Block Transforms Las Vegas


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bike-racks-and-traffic-co-exsisting-in-downtown-las-vegas

By Erika F. Washington
May 1, 2012 

LAS VEGAS– In a usually unused and forgotten Las Vegas neighborhood, hundreds of people gathered and made it a vibrant green community, if only for one weekend.

The Build A Greener Block project took a small portion of Main Street and, instead of shutting the entire street down, narrowed the street to showcase how everything can work together. Pedestrians can walk, bicyclists can use their lanes, and drivers can still parallel park their cars.

Brandon Wiegand, a Las Vegas native, thinks this part of Las Vegas has tremendous potential to become a vibrant community. While he does not like to take credit for the entire project because so many people came together to make it happen, he originally got the idea for after seeing a video of Build a Better Block in Dallas, Texas. Wiegand wondered how he could do something like this in his hometown.

He took the foundation of that idea, and added the element of sustainability.

“We tried to repurpose and recycle everything and do it in a sustainable manner,” says Wiegand.

With less than $6,500 in donations and in only three casino online days, the team created a living model of a sustainable neighborhood in an urban setting. The Build A Greener Block team got to work painting storefronts (with environmentally-friendly paint), and setting up signs and decorations.

They went a step further and invited only local businesses that have a passion for sustainability and recycling to the block. Sambalatte, a popular coffee shop in the Summerlin neighborhood of Las Vegas, set up at the end of the block. The owner was on hand for both days to talk about what it means to be green when it comes to coffee. This independent coffee shop only uses only recycled paper products and disposable utensils that are made from corn starch and their beans come from farmers who are Rainforest Alliance certified.

Many local crafters set up shop and sold beautiful jewelry, handbags, and artwork. The temporary café housed an all vegan and raw eatery featuring kale salads, raw basil spring rolls, and lettuce wraps.

Stacey Dougan, who is the vegan chef at Wynn Resort, sees Las Vegas’ green potential and is in negotiations to lease a space for a permanent Raw Fusion café.

Shane Stuart, who calls himself a master raw food mixologist, blended fresh fruits and veggies nonstop while educating customers on the importance of eating fresh, organic foods.

Sometimes Las Vegas gets a bad rap for being a town of excess, but Wiegard laughs that off.

“We have more LEED buildings per capita than any other city. We have the largest LEED certified building here,” he quips.

Trees were planted, and businesses boomed.

People laughed and shared meals together.

Young and old alike danced and hula-hooped together.

Children drew pictures of their dreams on the sidewalk and strangers became friends.

All of this to prove a point: if you build a greener block, the community will come. It is a vision of sustainable community that Sierra Club Green Home would like to see built across the nation.


For related articles, see:
Urban Homesteading: Environmentally Friendly and Self Sufficient
Community Solar: Bringing People Together for Clean Energy
Five Tips for Living Local

 

© 2012 SCGH, LLC. All rights reserved.

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