EcoSTEP Indicators from NSLW Workshops

While we haven't chronicled every single workshop's use of the EcoSTEP tool for measuring sustainability indicators, we have many of them. Participants used the EcoSTEP tool for local issues, for general issues, and for some very specific problems. There are some common threads throughout the exercises, but there are differences too. Following is a summary of some of the EcoSTEP exercises from some of our workshops.

Norfolk Group 1
How to deal with blighted structures and construct better buildings

    •   Create scattered housing sites
    •   Safe community deconstruction of blighted buildings
    •   Establish educational program for deconstruction

    •   Incentives for "green" housing construction
    •   Job creation - construction of affordable new housing - new housing attracts new workers as well
    •   Job creation - active deconstruction of derelict buildings
    •   Business creation - establish business for recycling deconstructed buildings' materials

Public Policy
    •   Initiatives for "green" housing construction
    •   Risk management
    •   Participate in influencing state's policies for deconstruction and recycling building materials
    •   Ordinance change to support deconstruction as sites become available and encourage LEED construction standards

    •   Disposal and re-use of deconstruction and construction materials
    •   Parter with Keep Nebraska Beautiful or other, local contacts for materials disposition
    •   All new construction to be kept within environmentally "safe" areas - establish "no build" areas

    •   Online educational program for deconstruction
    •   Use web-based partnerships to advocate for policy changes, as well as promotion of deconstruction and green building policies

Norfolk Group 2
Fostering a local foods culture

    •   Build on established infrastructure - farmers markets, community gardens, county fairs, etc.
    •   Create educational partnership program, bringing both schools and adult population into mix, have annual conference
    •   Establish and continue local culture and events
    •   Healthier food supply

    •   Promote new "green" jobs
    •   Local food supply keeps money circulating in community
    •   Food production and distribution jobs and businesses

Public Policy
    •   Create local food ordinances that encourage use and production of locally-produced foods
    •   Build on established infrastructure

    •   Reduction of energy consumption
    •   Better quality, safer, more nutritious local food supply
    •   Increased percentage of people recycling

    •   Build local foods greenhouses, refrigeration warehouses
    •   Build on established infrastructure
    •   Marketing, ordering local foods online

Chadron indicators surround the question of how to create a more sustainable community

    •   Re-use of building materials and buildings
    •   Aquifer policy
    •   LEED standards for new construction and retrofitting
    •   Reduction of paper consumption
    •   Soil / concrete county roads
    •   Reduce food waste in schools by closing campuses
    •   Assess fragile environments amongst and between neighboring counties

    •   Marketing & publicizing green initiatives
    •   Community activities for young people and community
    •   Educate students and faculty on energy conservation
    •   Empower citizens
    •   Health and wellness
    •   Empower citizens – Hire a dedicated staff person and coordinator to champion sustainability throughout the community

    •   Retrofitting housing entrepreneurship
    •   Stimulus money for green initiatives
    •   State energy office grant moneys
    •   Conduct an input/output assessment, circulation of dollars in the region before they leave

    •   Telecommuting
    •   Explore NPPD $ for geo-thermal
    •   Telehealth
    •   Broadband/Wi-Fi connectivity

Public Policy
    •   Zoning regulation
    •   Institutional meeting policies
    •   Policy planning for natural resources

Lincoln 2009 Group 1

    •   Adequate access to water
    •   Regional capacity for growth based on water (currently on verge of crisis and thus urgent now, the ability to collaborate will take a long time to evolve)

    •   Identification of community values as linked with land use
    •   Accommodating the community’s values

Public Policy
    •   Assuring a comprehensive GIS system. There is another policy necessary: how to make a decision - priority in the short term, solvable in the short term, an issue for the environmental task force
    •   Increasing density - the momentum is to promote higher density
    •   Public funding
    •   Public policy to change education

    •   Identifying true cost
    •   Ecosystem functioning – the value of the systems to us
    •   Funding – thinking creatively about that funding [consistent urgency]
    •   Benefit of living near parks/outdoor education centers the economic value

    •   Infrastructure design
    •   Multi-modal transportation
    •   Communications

Lincoln 2009 Group 2

    •   Decrease siting on “no water” land
    •   Reduction of energy consumption
    •   Level of material recycled
    •   Knowledge of ecosystem services

    •   Fees may inhibit participation
    •   Common property
    •   Increase visitation to parks, gardens (e.g., Lincoln Safari)
    •   K-12 awareness/experiential curriculum
    •   University-large program collaboration

Public Policy
    •   Public funding policy
    •   School curriculum – substantial school administrative policy

    •   Nature Center funding
    •   Economic benefit (to real estate) in proximity to environmental features

    •   K-12 telecommunications programming
    •   Measure internet use and coordinate things like ride-sharing
    •   Kiosks
    •   Hand-helds – take advantage of their ubiquity

North Platte Group 1
Indicators surrounding improving water quality and conserving water

    •   Pollution potential in direct channel wells
    •   Water quality, availability

    •   Awareness/education in schools
    •   Satisfaction, convenience of soft water
    •   Potential for isolated contamination and pollution
    •   High quality of life (quantity and quality of good water)
    •   Engage high school students by taking them out and teaching them to do water sampling; must be part of curriculum

    •   Soft water services job losses
    •   Less maintenance - both for municipality and individuals
    •   Attactive to economic enterprise
    •   Avoidance of the cost of treating water
    •   Central treatment - chloride? fluoride?


Public Policy
    •   Cost/benefit analysis
    •   City to make wellhead protections manadatory
    •   Identify where areas of risk are

North Platte Group 2
How do we revitalize our communities by attracting/ retaining/utilizing our youth and young families?

    •   Trails
    •   Green housing

    •   Community pride
    •   Encourage civil engagement through such means as a youth summit or others
    •   Increase activities for youth
    •   Public education
    •   Racial diversity
    •   Collaborate with larger community

    •   Investment in trails and green spaces (grants)
    •   Jobs
    •   Cost of living
    •   Create supports for entrepreneurs
    •   Public/private partnerships

    •   Wi-fi connectivity
    •   Transportation
    •   Webzine

Public Policy
    •   Small business incentives
    •   Tax policy
    •   Bike lanes in streets
    •   Establish a Youth Chamber of Commerce
    •   Public Action community

Nebraska City

    •   Inclusion of diverse populations
    •   New strategies for public engagement, e.g., taking meetings to the coffee shop rather than try and get people to the meeting, language interpretation
    •   Content message/strategy - disseminate info through the schools
    •   Cooperative programs with the public/private schools

    •   Downtown revitalization
    •   Reduction of vacant buildings with successful locally-owned businesses
    •   Public/private partnerships
    •   Social environmental justice (economic equity)

Public Policy
    •   City funds certification for someone to provide weatherization services (driven by policy change with economic results)
    •   Property regulation/rental inspection/enforcement to combat absentee landlord issues
    •   Review barriers to sustainability

    •   Articulating environmental best practices in any vision
    •   Land use – comprehensive plan to include principles of smart growth/co-housing

    •   Increase openness of meetings and facilitate feedback
    •   Broadband access - high priority
    •   GIS mapping - key to effective exchange of information with other communities by making it transferable

Culbertson Group 1
How to attract and retain youth in community

    •   Social acceptance and welcome
    •   Education of local assets
    •   Cultural activities
    •   Quality of life
    •   Family and spous supports
    •   Connect to community

    •   Finance housing
    •   Jobs
    •   Support new business and entrepreneurs
    •   Encourage diversity of jobs, ensure pay and quality

Public Policy
    •   Community responsiveness
    •   State and federal grants
    •   Street improvements
    •   Rural health insurance

    •   Clean air
    •   Transportation
    •   Outdoor life

    •   YouTube outreach
    •   Computer/broadband/Wi-fi infrastructure
    •   Health clinic

Culbertson Group 2
How to grow our community sustainably

    •   Health and wellness
    •   Place-based learning, school partnership
    •   Bed and breakfast
    •   Farmers market and community gardens
    •   Community-owned building for events, art, restaurant
    •   Encourage young entrepreneurs
    •   Capture wisdom and experience of aging people
    •   Stem/increase populations
    •   Provide educational information - economic evaluations, creative policy options regarding things like real estate and innovative financing

    •   No vacant buildings
    •   New construction
    •   Intergenerational business transitions
    •   State economic evaluation
    •   Innovative financing options
    •   Market to hunters and outfitters
    •   Stacked enterprises
    •   Attract call center industries
    •   Try to make sure there are fewer uninsured (healthcare)

Public Policy
    •   Revolving loan funds
    •   City purchase of vacant properties
    •   Sewer/water tax incentives
    •   Legislation to provide training, tapping into existing funding
    •   Intergenerational transitions - BECA funds
    •   Establish public forum, task force
    •   Create, use, and update comprehensive plan

    •   Promote area for wildlife enthusiasts, hunters
    •   Encourage biodiversity of agriculture
    •   Establish a community garden
    •   Control weeds in community
    •   Encourage development of walking/biking trails
    •   Establish community athletics, parks

    •   Build Wi-fi, broadband
    •   Use social networking sites for public relations
    •   Expanded educational curriculum via Internet and video library for youth and adults
    •   Healthcare knowledge facility

Blair Group 1
Indicators deal with responding to regional conditions

    •   Entertainment activities
    •   Community gardening
    •   Community involment - outreach to school, church, and civic organizations, as well as the general population

    •   Job creation
    •   Business attraction, retention, expansion
    •   Transportation - some to jobs in other towns
    •   Housing
    •   Regional industrial plan

Public Policy
    •   Educate policy-makers
    •   Assessment and enforcement of building codes and ordinances
    •   Establish a mechanism for routine, regular planning, assessment and revision of Comprehensive Plan, policies, ordinances

    •   Establish "no build" areas
    •   Enhance parks and recreation
    •   Flood control - low-impact from a local and regional perspective

    •   Internet, Wi-fi accessibility
    •   Cell phone accessibility
    •   Encourage off-site, at-home work - visible promotion of telecommuting, home-based businesses

Blair Group 2
Fostering economic vitality of the region, how do we develop a stronger sense of community

    •   Capitalize on historic features
    •   Enhance quality schools, expand learning community
    •   Make sure town/area has access to healthcare, dental care, vision care
    •   Emphasize ease and convenience of our location
    •   Encourage local businesses to hire after-school teens
    •   Recruit young families
    •   More collaboration city-to-city within region/area

    •   Attracting both enterprises and entrepreneurs
    •   Find and cultivate local venture capital
    •   Make sure the community has a good mix of housing, including affordable, starter-type homes and even rent-to-own homes

Public Policy
    •   Enforce building codes
    •   Establish storm water management plan
    •   Be more proactive in reviewing and revising Comprensive Plan every year, as well as implementation and enforcement of good policies

    •   Retrofit those houses and buildings that need it
    •   Preserve and enhance local attractions - Fort Atkinson, the wildlife preserve, and Boyer Chute
    •   Create more green spaces and outdoor areas within communities
    •   Preserve and enhance local natural resources - lakes, water, scenic, open and natural areas

    •   Use Internet for local promotion, recruitment, outreach
    •   Ensure high-quality broadband, Wi-fi, cellular access

Dakota City

    •   Walkability
    •   Green space in the downtown (clean stormwater run-off, recreation)—in 15 years want 10% of green space)
    •   Community garden

    •   Web delivery of neighborhood info
    •   High speed broadband
    •   Neighborhood wi-fi

    •   Historical preservation projects
    •   Education/outreach recycling program

    •   Business succession
    •   Mixed use zoning
    •   Job opportunities

Public Policy
    •   Policy for unoccupied buildings
    •   Research policy (critical)

Broken Bow
Revitalizing the City Square, a landmark in Broken Bow, was the question surrounding the workshop's use of the EcoSTEP tool. The square currently has a pretty lively retail environment and only one empty storefront, but there's a vacant lot on the south side of the square that could be used for some kind of development, and almost none of the retail buildings around the square have apartments above them.

    •   Identify and implement a strong community identity
    •   Cultural events
    •   Identify ....
    •   Develop residential living units on the square (perhaps above retail stores) attractive to youth/seniors

    •   Grocery store
    •   Maintain low retail vacancy rates
    •   Establish an economic incubator in the vacant lot space on the south side of the square

Public Policy
    •   Establish a high quality, cohesive landscape and street furniture design
    •   Establish design standards for the square and its businesses
    •   Assess mixed-use zoning opportunities

    •   Have the City Council purchase the empty lots on the south side of the square

    •   Build public toilets
    •   Improve energy efficiency in the retail buildings surrounding the square
    •   Do energy audits on the downtown buildings
    •   Repair the water/sewer infrastructure

    •   Using design standards, replace the lighting around the square
    •   Establish WiFi access for the entire square area

Establishing, growing, and maintaining Valentine as a regional market.

    •   Define the trade area
    •   Determine patterns of behavior (for commuters, shoppers, users of institutions like schools, medical care)
    •   Tribal and visitor support system
    •   Celebrate the town's unique cultural history and heritage, provide more and better information

    •   Golf, shopping, art - tying them together is an economic opportunity
    •   City incentives for new businesses
    •   New markets (GrowNebraska)

Public Policy
    •   Minimum housing standards for new construction
    •   Incorporate/integrate these ideas into a comprehensive plan
    •   Develop a strategy for low-income housing

    •   Continue community clean-up
    •   Main Street greening
    •   Trails system

    •   Airport enhancement/improvement
    •   Establish WiFi access and fiber optics for entire town
    •   Transportation - public transport, golf course shuttle, eldercare transport to/from medical facilities
    •   City website improvement/enhancement - maybe provide one portal for goverment, visitors bureau, businesses


    •   Youth employment strategy
    •   Festivals and events to attract youth
    •   Education
    •   Mentoring new business owners/farmers

    •   Organic farming

    •   Website with links to local businesses
    •   Marketing globally

Public Policy
    •   Tax structure to support future plans
    •   ID of future plan and growth funding incentives
    •   Zoning

    •   Retention of business
    •   Succession of business plan
    •   Establish community connection
    •   Buy-in infrastructure for public activity

Scottsbluff EcoSTEP 1
The challenge is to determine steps needed to attract and retain a young workforce.

    •   Technology - how important is it?
    •   ADA compliance for trails

    •   Public lands connectivity

    •   Fiber network
    •   Wi-fi

Public Policy
    •   Entrepreneurial funding (2-10 employees)

    •   Research existing training programs and see what else is needed

Scottsbluff EcoSTEP 2
The challenge is foster regional cooperation among large and small communities and counties.

    •   Identify common interests
    •   Identify leadership in each community (10 leaders)
    •   Surveys

    •   Quality potable water


    •   Niche businesses
    •   Services to sustain small business
    •   Income/expense balance - retaining wealth

Public Policy
    •   Regional comprehensive plan

Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Beatrice EcoSTEP 1

Beatrice EcoSTEP 2

Blair EcoSTEP

Columbus EcoSTEP

Culbertson EcoSTEP 1

Culbertson EcoSTEP 2

Grand Island EcoSTEP 1

Grand Island EcoSTEP 2

Kearney EcoSTEP 1

Kearney EcoSTEP2

Mead EcoSTEP 2

Broken Bow EcoSTEP

Valentine EcoSTEP

Hastings EcoSTEP

Scottsbluff EcoSTEP 1

Scottsbluff EcoSTEP 2

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