Bay Village Green Team takes 1 step back, 3 steps forward

Mayor Debbie Sutherland presents a proclamation to retiring Bay Village Green Team member Brenda O’Reilly, recognizing her years of dedication to promoting sustainability in the city. Photo by Denny Wendell

The community of Bay Village lost one of its most active environmental champions recently when longtime resident Brenda O’Reilly moved out of the city. An inaugural member of the Bay Village Green Team, which Mayor Debbie Sutherland assembled in 2007, Brenda helped lead the group of volunteers during her tenure with the team.

She served as co-chair for several years, later joining the board of trustees, and spearheaded a number of sustainability initiatives and partnerships including zero-waste events, Habitat for Humanity collections, administration of county recycling grants and educational workshops. Among her many other activities, Brenda helped launch the community garden and was part of the working group that drafted the city’s sustainability master plan in 2012. Observer readers may also remember Brenda for her column on “green” topics or the many articles extolling her environmental activism.

“All of Brenda’s time, action, knowledge and dedication to the team has been invaluable,” said Lori Sprosty, who shared the co-chair role. “To me she has been a mentor, adviser and friend; her passion and commitment to sustainability have been inspirational.”

After hearing the news of Brenda’s departure from the Green Team and the city, Mayor Sutherland awarded a proclamation to recognize her service to the community. Praising Brenda’s “steadfast leadership” of the team, the mayor thanked her for “countless hours of time and her dedication to making Bay Village a better community for all to enjoy.”

Over the past year, it became clear that the group had outgrown its early roots as the mayor’s volunteer advisory committee and was ready to strike out on its own. The Green Team revised its organizational structure and elected a board of trustees – Brenda, Lori Sprosty, Patrick McGannon, Warren Remein and Tara Wendell.

With help from a lawyer and the city’s finance department, the board is working toward incorporation as a non-profit organization which, among other things, will allow the team to pursue grant funding to further its mission. In what may be the most telling statement regarding Brenda’s impact on the Green Team, upon her resignation the board elected three Bay Village residents to fill her vacancy – Laura and Jerry Crabb and Amy Coursen.

“This has been a great partnership between [the Green Team and] the city – elected city officials, the mayor’s office, the city's employees,” Brenda commented after receiving her proclamation at the Nov. 2 City Council meeting. “It’s a great collaboration, a win-win for the community. The Green Team will carry on, it’s getting bigger and it’s getting better.”

The vision, energy and guidance that Brenda brought to the team for its first eight years of existence will serve the organization well as it enters a new chapter. All residents interested in continuing the Bay Village Green Team’s mission to improve quality of life by decreasing the city’s environmental footprint are encouraged to email or attend the next quarterly meeting on Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m., at the Bay Village Branch Library.

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Volume 7, Issue 22, Posted 10:31 AM, 11.17.2015