By LESLIE COLLINS
September 25, 2013
Pendleton Heights didn’t set out to become a green neighborhood.
“Being green is in the DNA of people who restore old houses. It’s just what we do,” Pendleton Heights Neighborhood Association President Jessica Ray said.
That DNA of naturally being green earned the neighborhood the designation of a KC Green Neighborhood Sept. 19 during the city’s KC Green Fair at Illus Davis Park.
Only three other Kansas City, Mo., neighborhoods earned that distinction this year as part of the city’s KC Green Initiative, which not only implements green programs citywide but also encourages neighborhoods to implement their own green initiatives to make Kansas City more sustainable. This is the first time that Kansas City has recognized neighborhoods for their efforts. Neighborhoods earning the title of KC Green Neighborhood included Pendleton Heights, Avalon View, Center City and Ivanhoe.
“These neighborhoods incorporated a variety of green practices that not only improved their local communities, but benefit the city as a whole,” said city Environmental Manager Andy Savastino.
In Pendleton Heights, neighbors participated in park clean-ups as well as weekly block clean-ups. Residents also planted 42 peach trees in their yards and created a community garden filled with tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, okra, sweet potatoes and more. Some of the plots are open for the entire neighborhood to enjoy, while other plots are rented out to individual residents and families. Pendleton Heights residents are currently canning salsa and pasta sauce to sell at the upcoming neighborhood homes tour in December. Other green initiatives have included curbside glass recycling and partnering with Jerusalem Farm to offer curbside compost pickup. Ten members have now joined the neighborhood’s Scooter Club and five houses have become LEED ( Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified.
This spring, residents will focus on the new orchard at Montgall and Lexington, a once vacant lot, and plant a variety of trees that were native to the neighborhood in the 1800s. Trees will include serviceberry, crabapple, golden russet apple, red haven peach, Bartlett pear, Italian fig, among others.
“We’re excited to receive recognition for all of our efforts,” Ray said. “We’re all about making green be easy for our residents.”
During the awards ceremony, City Council member John Sharp handed the KC Green Neighborhood award to his own neighborhood, Avalon View. In addition to increasing recycling participation throughout the neighborhood, a number of residents have also installed native landscaping, rain gardens and edible gardens in their yards.
Overall, the neighborhood looks cleaner, he said.
“It’s really made a difference in our community and has given people a better feeling about living there,” Sharp said.
Ivanhoe established a “Grown in Ivanhoe” initiative which includes selling produce from the neighborhood’s community garden at local farmer’s markets and its “Lots of Love” program which turns vacant lots into edible landscapes and community gathering spots. The neighborhood also offers gardening classes to residents and works with cub scout, boy scout and girl scout troops through its “Scouts Sprouts” program which teaches the youngsters about gardening and eating healthy.
Center City has continued to check items off the list of the sustainability plan it created more than 10 years ago and now has rain gardens and a community orchard that features 95 fruit trees.
Each neighborhood will receive KC Green Neighborhood signage which the city will install on top of existing street signs, recognition in city publications and on Channel 2, access to sustainability workshops and additional recycling bins.
“I think it (signage) will really help people understand that Pendleton Heights is an active neighborhood,” said Jamila Pree, Pendleton Heights Association secretary. “That’s something we really want to stress to people who are interested in moving to the neighborhood.”
Colleen Doctorian, a representative of KC Green, said neighborhoods going green also received another benefit: getting to know their neighbors.
“I think that’s really a cool benefit,” Doctorian said. “There’s a lot of really creative things that can be done, but the greatest benefit is getting to know your neighbors and really building your community.”