Naturally McKinney wants to show families the path to green living. Above, the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the local green amenities located in McKinney. Courtesy of the McKinney Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Sept. 16, 2014
By Rita Cook
A group dubbed Naturally McKinney wants to push sustainability in the Collin County community.
Randy Williams, the past president of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce from 1987 to 2000, and three like-minded individuals, Dave Clarke, Laurie Jay and Brandi Price, are the force behind the environmentally conscious group.
“Our affinity is that we all care about the future of McKinney and the planet and try to demonstrate that in practical ways,” Williams says.
The group was launched in 2011 as a response to regional environmental issues, including the water shortage and North Texas’ non-attainment of the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality standards.
“The four of us ‘discovered’ each other and began to think through ways we, as concerned local citizens, could help alleviate the situation.”
Right, Locally grown produce at the McKinney Farmer's Market. Courtesy of McKinney CVB.
With no legal or organizational structure, no budget and no money, the Naturally McKinney volunteers meet monthly to plan free green living seminars in local churches to help people live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle.
“Although there are a lot of groups and organizations across the country promoting sustainable living with business and government, we found few who were working directly with families,” Williams explains.
They adopted three strategic approaches: education, networking and advocacy.
“Our educational approach is experiential and our tool is a program called Green Living,” he says. “We have done one of these with 10 families at Trinity Presbyterian Church in McKinney. We are currently approaching other churches with this program, but will also promote it in neighborhoods, civic organizations and work groups.”
The group also gets their message out through networking, primarily social media.
“Our eventual intent in this area is to ‘inventory’ everyone who is doing anything related to sustainability in McKinney, from the Farmers Market at Chestnut Square, to the community garden at Holy Family School, to the LEED Platinum R&D facility at Encore Wire. Once the research is done, we will plan ways to get these various groups and organizations together to create cooperative partnerships with each other.”
Trail at Erwin Park in McKinney. Courtesy of Naturally McKinney.
Naturally McKinney also focuses on advocacy and Williams says that the city of McKinney has several things going in the area of sustainability like solar panels on one of its fire stations and a staff person who organizes and presents classes in gardening and building rain barrels, but it all seems to be “below the radar,” he says.
“McKinney appears to be the only city in the region that has no mention of programs or emphases regarding sustainability on its website. We are encouraging the city to promote sustainable living through their own day-to-day operations, appropriate regulatory enforcement, the continuation of their education programs and their cooperation with and support of groups in the community who are doing the same.”
The most recent Green Living seminar that Naturally McKinney put together at Trinity Presbyterian Church was a four-month workshop. The 10 families met after church and followed guidelines included in the Green Living Handbook by David Gershon. They learned about reducing solid waste, water efficiency, energy efficiency, transportation efficiency and eco-wise consuming.
Already, Williams reported that the congregation is one of three Presbyterian congregations in Texas that has earned certification from the Presbyterian Church USA as an Earth Care congregation.
“I can’t thank you enough for being the ‘force for green’ at Trinity,” wrote one participant. “It truly rounds out our relationship with God to be respectful of the place He’s given us to live.”
Williams said they hope to bring the message home among their neighbors that Americans, who make up five percent of the planet’s population, use one-third of the planet’s natural resources.
“As ordinary citizens, we consume these directly through our daily lifestyle choices, and we influence the other two-thirds indirectly by the products we buy. And we waste up to 75 percent of what we consume due to lack of awareness and inefficient consumption practices,” said Williams. “Local citizens are a major part of the problem and can be a major part of the solution by adopting a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle.”
For information on the Green Living program or other activities to promote sustainable living in McKinney, contact Randy Williams at 214-478-9391 or email@example.com.
Rita Cook is an Arlington-based award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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