What if…

In an area with as much natural beauty as Door County and one that values “locals” in such a grandiose fashion it’s interesting that the sustainability movement – a big proponent of the “Buy Local” mindset and the preservation of the environment for future generations – hasn’t already enveloped the peninsula.

It’s hard to believe that it was six years ago that we printed our first Sustainability Issue, and while strides have been made, the need for this special issue is just as evident today as it was then. The word “sustainable” is a part of everyday vernacular, and easy changes – such as recycling, using reusable coffee cups or grocery bags and switching to energy efficient light bulbs – are abundant; but, one could claim that the larger picture along the Door Peninsula looks very much the same as it did six years ago.

So with this year’s special issue, we focused our attention on that larger picture, and we present 3 Big Ideas for Change. By asking a few “What if…” questions, we hope to enrich the conversation and keep ideas flowing toward a sustainable future.

Just as Door County residents are forced through hoops in order to qualify as a “local,” what if there was such a thing as an “Authentic Door County” label?” Myles Dannhausen Jr. wonders if a labeling system that helped ferret out the imitators, promoting those products that are actually made here, would help strengthen our brand and shepherd dollars to truly local producers?

Dannhausen also revisits our community’s energy needs – a topic he addressed in the 2009 Sustainability Issue. Rather than examine what it would take to move Door County off the grid, he takes a look at the idea of controlling the grid. By taking a closer look at Sturgeon Bay Utilities and the Washington Island Electric Co-op, he shows the benefits of municipally-owned utilities and lays out the hurdles a community faces in gaining this degree of energy independence.

And finally, what if we could establish a local food network? With Brittany Jordt’s article, she takes a look at moving the local food system “Beyond Cherries and Whitefish.” With the printing of the UW-Extension’s Local Producers’ List and a listing of area farm markets (in convenient poster fashion for you to place on your fridge) we remind you that there are people putting forth a concerted effort to do just that.

Also in this issue, Gary Jones and Angela Sherman chime in about preserving their own food, and Andrew Phillips profiles Judy Samida and Guy Fortin, who exemplify a sustainable lifestyle. As Guy Fortin states, “We live just like everybody else…Judy says we live better.”

Our peninsula, with it’s isolated geography, creative community and business ingenuity would be an ideal locale for all of us to “live better.” So please, enjoy the Peninsula Pulse’s sixth annual Sustainability Issue, and take a moment to continue the conversation and keep these 3 Big Ideas moving forward online at