Catalyst Interview Series: Bill Berlow
Knight Creative Communities Institute (KCCI): How did you get involved with KCCI?
Bill Berlow (BB): I was a journalist at the Tallahassee Democrat, writing about the same issues that KCCI was interested in solving. My involvement stemmed from the relationship I had formed with Mike Pate while working for the Tallahassee Democrat. Being part of KCCI helped me understand how this community works and how communities work in general.
KCCI: What made you decide to apply?
BB: Working with KCCI not only made me a better journalist but also a better citizen. I was immediately interested when I noticed the newspaper was writing about this new organization that was KCCI. It was a different kind of professional opportunity than I’ve ever had before, and so I thought that becoming a part of KCCI would help me understand the community outside of a journalistic perspective.
KCCI: What is Greenovation/Sustainable Tallahassee?
BB: Greenovation was one of four initiatives in 2007. We wanted to make Tallahassee a “green” capital of the southeast, meaning a place where sustainability is an economic development engine. However, creating a sustainable environment can’t happen in one year. We knew we had to develop a vehicle to make our project goals last. There were several projects towards this effort, such as the creation of a website and an education committee that worked to improve the rate of recycling in schools. This resulted in the iRecycle program, which created “green teams” at the school district focused directly on this effort.
Sustainable Tallahassee was the outgrowth of Greenovation, and built upon the ideas and goals we had created. Sustainable Tallahassee is all about creating awareness within the community about sustainable businesses and living. The core premise was that we wanted to create jobs while maintaining environmental protection.
KCCI: Why did your group hone in on the topic of sustainability?
BB: We knew that we needed to diversify the local job market to create vibrant and healthy nonprofit, private and public sectors. We also knew that we needed to protect the environment while simultaneously marketing a healthier economy. Everyone was able to recognize the need for this project in the community.
KCCI: How does creating a more sustainable city lend itself to sense of place?
BB: Sustainability is about jobs, creating a more livable community and leaving the community better than it was before so that future generations can live in a more prosperous community. Interconnectedness and collaboration are important to sustainability, and vice versa.
KCCI: What are some of your favorite places in Tallahassee?
BB: Midtown, Kleman Plaza, Cascades Park , anywhere I can spend time with my grandkids, and my hammock in my backyard.
KCCI: Who should apply to be a KCCI Catalyst?
BB: Anyone who is passionate about making this community better.