When people go on a hike into the wilderness, they are wise to figure how long they will be hiking and carry enough supplies so they don't get hungry or cold and can complete their trek. A person might anticipate taking some extras supplies in the event they get lost or twist an ankle.

The idea is to plan for what you need to survive and thrive. To the degree people can anticipate needs and possible troubles, they can successfully avoid trouble. Planning makes sense! Sometimes it's the difference between life and death.

So, too, do cities and communities need to gaze into the future and anticipate what they will need to provide for their citizens’ life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Not doing this work holds undesirable consequences. Poor planning serves no one and can lead to a breakdown. It is not sustainable.

Sustainability is defined as the capacity to endure. It means living within our means and not running short of the resources we need to survive. It involves taking stock, making plans and sticking to a well-thought-out course. It means anticipating hazards and allowing for mistakes and constantly tracking where we are and where we're going.

So it is with Forest Grove. Our population today is over 21,000 people. Twenty years ago it was around 14,000. In 1850 you could count residents with the fingers on your hand. Providing livable conditions for 10 people versus 21,000 is a vastly different endeavor. .

Today in Forest Grove we enjoy plentiful water and inexpensive publicly-owned electricity. It is clear our past leaders did some effective and thoughtful planning to sustain us as we grew. These utilities make a huge difference in the life of our town.

Our population will continue to expand (by an estimated 8 percent over the next five years) so we have a moving target. To be sustainable, to live sustainably, our planning must be ongoing.

There is much to consider and track. Climate change will affect our agriculture as well as our water. Dwindling resources must not be used recklessly. We need to plan for how we will get around and house ourselves and feed our children and live at peace within our beautiful surroundings. And to be effective, our planning needs to consider all our diverse citizens – everyone!

For the past year and a half, a group of citizens along with some city officials have comprised the Sustainability Ad Hoc Committee of Forest Grove. This group, capably led by Elaine Cole, has looked for ways to continue the fine work by our town forefathers. There have been two Sustainability Summits so far, and this year's annual town meeting was also devoted to sustainability.

The third Sustainability Summit will take place this Saturday morning. From this meeting we will hone an action plan for our community. Much research and ground work has already been done, so we have a lot of resources and demographic information upon which to draw up our action plan.

The remaining work for our committee involves putting an action plan into writing and acting on it. It's exciting work to be sure, and we're almost where we want to be.

Areas that have been looked at include transportation, food, solid waste and recycling, social equity, natural resources and green building and renewable energy.

I'm writing this as a call to action. We need you if this is to be successful. If my description gets your attention, please accept this invitation to join us. If you have not been involved to date, it's not too late! Plan to attend Saturday. Lend a hand. Pitch in.

Let our work continue to build a community and town that provides a full and healthy life for our citizens and businesses on into the future. Honor the work of our ancestors who provided for us so well. Help us create a truly visionary statement and plan for our community.

Eric Canon is a member of the Sustainability Ad Hoc Committee of Forest Grove.

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