SALEM WEEKLYApril 16, 2014

In honor of Earth Day 2014, Pringle Creek Community, one of the most sustainable community developments in the country, will reach out to people and families in the Salem area.

“It’s a great opportunity for both us and for people who want to learn about sustainable living and our work here,” says Kerry Fox, who is coordinating the event.

Festivities, “rain or shine,” will include a treasure hunt, interactive displays, games and goodies. Visitors can learn about green infrastructure with walks through vintage “glasshouses” (“greenhouses” built from glass) and community gardens.

Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center will bring local wildlife and Straub Environmental Learning Center will show how worms transform ordinary food scraps into rich garden compost.

Eight residences and one cottage have been built at the 32-acre, award-winning community property, with the goal of 140 at full build out, all with the intention of integrating green building practices, energy efficiency and respect for the natural environment.

“We actually generate more energy than we use,” Fox says, “and the excess energy we create powers our geothermal loop.” The newest expansion, a line of row houses, will break ground this spring.

Pringle Creek will offer a wide variety of experiences for the Earth Day celebration. Local transportation expert Curt Fisher will bring his bike-powered blender to make smoothies for attendees to enjoy. Local vendors will provide samples of their wares while the Green Bike Cab will offer rides for those who want to tour Pringle Creek in comfort.

Fox is passionate about the potential Pringle Creek shows. A former science teacher with a master’s degree in sustainable community development., Fox say’s “We can’t continue the way we live today, because we’re killing ourselves with fossil fuels. Alternative energy sources can allow us to live comfortably without those side effects.” Solar and geothermal, is used on the site, “and we can live as well if not better than with fossil fuels, because here we live in a community, which is part of the design.”

Sue Wilson agrees. Wilson, who has lived as a Pringle Creek resident for six years, says, “It was the concept of ‘community’ that really sold us on it.” This place appreciates that residents have regular input into how the place is run.

“We all help shut up the chickens at night, and we have such meaningful conversations with people we live with. That adds absolute value to life.”

After working at Pringle Creek for nine years, Francisco “Paco” Sanchez still loves the place. He rebuilt the glasshouses “piece by piece,” plants bushes and trees and designs plantings, creates garden trellises from recycled lumber, does roofing and floors and constructs bee boxes, lays stones and bricks for walking paths and keeps the machinery in good repair.

Of his significant contributions, Sanchez says, modestly, “It feels like a home. This is the place I always want to be.”

A busy man who lives in Portland and does business on multiple continents, Sanchez still drives to Salem four days a week to care for the property.

“I feel so happy when the trees I planted grow up,” he says.

Activities offered for Earth Day events are structured to demonstrate this ethos with the participation of many groups in Salem who already support green living.

Garten Services will take used electronics (laptops, cell phones, cords, chargers, radios) for recycling. Jon Holmquist of EdgeMaster will sharpen garden tools for a small fee ($3-$5) – half of which he’ll donate to non-profit participants.

Mini-gardens and seedlings planted in paper tubes will be given to guests by the local Daisy girl’s group.

Colleen Owen has been creating the mini-gardens for more than a month now. Owen has tended plants at Pringle Creek for three years. Since December she’s worked 5 days a week to keep the orchards robust, the hens fed and the glasshouses teaming with produce.

“I pretty much love every second of it,” Owen says. She is proud of the farm-to-table aspect of her work; much the produce goes to the on-site Painter’s Hall Café, open 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Produce is also shared with Marion-Polk Foodshare and other community partners.

Fox sums up the purpose of the Earth Day outreach, saying, “There is a perception that [developments like Pringle Creek] are elitist, but we’re not. We’re here to demonstrate, that we’re here for all generations, all incomes and people of all stripes.”

Pringle Creek

Earth Day Celebration

Saturday, April 19, 2014

1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

3911 Village Center Drive SE, Salem