By Michael Royce, Green Empowerment Founder
One of the things I like most about Green Empowerment is how family, friends and community have woven seamlessly into the organization’s fabric over the last twenty years. My father sat on the inaugural board, both he and my mother were major donors during life and in death, my wife, sister, daughters, son, granddaughters, law partner, office manager and other friends volunteered, attended fundraising events and visited projects abroad. Family, friends and community have always been, and will always be, integral to Green Empowerment’s success.
After twenty years of service, I am delighted to remain a part of the Green Empowerment family as an enthusiastic volunteer. The community ties nurtured and developed by my connection to Green Empowerment still enrich my life today. And the values upon which the organization was founded, still guide me daily.
Four years ago, Green Empowerment’s core values – community and sustainability – guided me to Ankeny Row. Ankeny Row is a community of six energy-efficient homes structured for social interaction and graceful aging constructed by Green Hammer – a Portland-based design-build firm that creates homes that are both architecturally exciting and produce tremendous energy savings.
The members of our community are deeply committed to sustainable living and many are deeply committed to Green Empowerment. Dick Benner is a former board member. My wife, Francie, currently serves on the board. My friend and neighbor, David Siegel, currently serves on the board and graciously assumed the role of Board Chair this summer after the unexpected passing of our beloved Linda Boise.
To share our story and inspire others to put their values into practice, Dick and I published Sustainable Homes for the 21st Century. From vision to reality, our book describes how we formed our green community, what we learned in the process and how others can make similar dreams come true.
Our dream is a greater success than we could have ever imagined. Over the first three years, our energy consumption was less than the energy we produced by our common roof-top solar. In other words, we were not only Net Zero, but less than Net Zero. Our homes (triple pane windows, 14-inch walls, super insulation) not only reduce energy usage, but also enable filtered and quality interior air, protection from exterior noise, stable and even heating and cooling, and low maintenance costs.
Beyond energy savings, living in this community is much like living in a well-functioning neighborhood, but more so. We share regular meals, both as a community and in smaller groups, political opinions and tips, newspapers and magazines, cultural and outdoor outings, tools and that sugar you often need at the last moment.
Dick and I published our book in hopes that it would be useful to others and serve as a model for how to live in a way that is consistent with our values. From the founding of Green Empowerment to the construction of Ankeny Row to whatever endeavor comes next, family, friends and community have inspired us, and will forever inspire me, to put people and our beautiful planet first.