Sustainable Walla Walla Prepares for Fourth Annual Green Travel Competition

Maegan Nelson

Illustration by Marlee Raible
Illustration by Marlee Raible

You might see a few more bikes next time you walk downtown. 

In honor of Earth Week, community organization Sustainable Walla Walla is gearing up for its fourth annual Green Travel Competition for local businesses, agencies, schools, churches and organizations. Participating organizations will be eligible for awards for the best green travel programs  in a variety of categories, including riding a bike or walking. The grand-prize-winning organization will have its name engraved on a traveling trophy.

Green Travel programs encourage people to look for low-energy ways to get to and from work, school, worship, meetings and other errands in order to help make communities more sustainable.

Barbara Clark, a member of Sustainable Walla Walla, has high hopes for this competition.

“Our hope is that a contest may provide the motivation for people to try out an alternative to an SUV for moving around town for a week.  Ideally, some of them will continue to walk, bike, bus or carpool even after the competition’s over,” said Clark.

According to Daniel Clark, secretary-treasurer of Sustainable Walla Walla who has been working with Barbara Clark in developing this program, Sustainable Walla Walla began developing the idea for the competition in 2007. The first Green Travel Competition was in 2010. For the past two years, the Walla Walla Joint Community Development Agency has won first place.

Organizations that want to participate in the competition must submit a report describing their green travel practices to Sustainable Walla Walla at [email protected] by Friday, May 3.

In the past, Whitman has participated directly in the competition, but this year the Student Sustainability Committee has decided to focus on a different approach to encourage green travel methods on campus. 

Senior Natalie Jamerson, sustainability coordinator, hopes to encourage better record keeping of green travel practices on campus in order to establish a baseline for future student sustainability committees. In the future, Whitman could use this data to enter the competition. 

“In the past, participation was limited and not that much has happened. We tried to organize a department competition but now we are taking a different approach to do better. We will be surveying [to] determine a baseline for green travel and that way in the future we can determine a rate of change and have better record keeping,” she said.