Westport Green Village Initiative started in 2008 with a simple objective: to ban plastic bags in Westport, Connecticut. The project engaged concerned citizens to act together. The success and fun of the project encouraged the group to stay together and turn their combined energies to other green initiatives. Westport Green Village Initiative was organized to turn Westport “into a model of social-inclusivity and environmental sustainability” that could well serve as the mission of twenty-first century Village Improvement Associations.
In many ways WGVI employs the open structure and flexible multi-project form of the old Village Improvement Associations but with a modern emphasis on sustainability. Dan Levinson, a co-founder of WGVI, runs a successful private equity fund in Connecticut. Witnessing a growing global ecological, social, and financial crisis, his response was to contribute to shaping a more sustainable future for his hometown and—by example—for other regions around the world.
Westport Green Village Initiative thus carries the particular vision that Dan Levinson brings to it. This includes an understanding of the importance of producing locally what is used locally, creating jobs for local youth, maintaining production skills and infrastructure, and gradually freeing the region from dependence on goods shipped over long distances.
WGVI is just over two years old, and already news of its accomplishments has spread to neighboring towns. As a result WGVI recently changed its name to Green Village Initiative in order to serve as an organizational vehicle for volunteer efforts in Ridgefield and Bridgeport and other nearby communities.
Dan Levinson was the speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires on March 12th in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His topic was “Local Action Leveraging Capacity for Change.” Dan Levinson is one of the valued board members of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics.