Saturday Laurel and I went to an open house for the Pringle Creek Community, a 32 acre sustainable development that is taking shape on the old Fairview Training Center grounds in Salem.
There was a lot of evident enthusiasm from the crowd, estimated at 750 in a follow-up Salem Statesman-Journal article.
We’re investors in Sustainable Fairview Associates (SFA), which sold off the Pringle Creek Community land and still owns the remaining 240 acres of the site, as this map shows.
If you do a search for “Sustainable Fairview” on this weblog (use Google box in left column) you’ll come up with quite a few posts that I’ve written on the subject, most of them critical of how SFA has been going about its business.Those criticisms still stand. But Pringle Creek Community is a fresh opportunity to do sustainability right.
For example, it was great to see various community groups concerned with sustainable living represented at the open house, since SFA has been excessively closed. Laurel and I learned a lot about compost tea from Wilamette Organics and also enjoyed perusing other booths.
So in spite of my frustrations with SFA, it felt good to wander around the as-yet-unbuilt Pringle Creek Community land and realize that all the blood, sweat, tears, and money SFA has put into this challenging project are on the verge of being transformed into sustainable reality.
Nathan Good is one of the green architects involved with Pringle Creek Community. Laurel and I trudged across a hot dry mowed field to the booth where he was holding forth. Proving that birds of a sustainable feather flock together, I saw that Larry Gunn (tall guy in the farthest away white hat) and Russ Beaton (dark glasses, sitting on hay bale) had congregated there also.
Larry, Russ, and I were part of an Eco-Enterprises group founded by Russ that did its best to line up funding to buy out SFA and pursue a really sustainable vision for Sustainable Fairview. Visionaries that we were, we didn’t have enough grounding in hard-nosed real estate development savvy to pull it off.
I heard Nathan say that Pringle Creek Community likely won’t match the original sustainable goals that were set out for Sustainable Fairview. But then, the remaining 240 acres of the project almost certainly won’t either. They’re in the process of being sold by SFA to another developer who promises to be Green, just as Pringle Creek Community is.
It’s just that there are many levels and varieties of greenness. Russ, who was in on the ground floor of buying the Fairview property from the state, wanted to push the limits of Sustainable Fairview and make it a world class cutting-edge sustainable development. That probably isn’t going to happen.
But Pringle Creek Community is going to be a great place to live, for sure. As we were waiting to register for the open house I heard a man say that he was living in Portland now and would move to Salem if he’s able to build his dream green house at this development.
Getting back to Nathan, he said that "carbon neutral" is replacing the term "zero net energy." Many of the homes at Pringle Creek Community will be carbon neutral, thereby taking a small but important step toward combating global warming.
Nathan also commented that, in his opinion, global warming is the most important problem facing the planet. That was music to my ears. I only wish that our recently outed global warming-denying state climatologist, George Taylor, could tune in to the same harmony.