Hundreds turned out to share stories and shape the coming year for the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition at a town hall meeting Thursday night.

While there was plenty of discussion about personal achievements at roundtable discussions during the formal meeting, the carnival-like sustainability fair that spread beyond the lobby of Oregon State University's CH2M Hill Alumni Center gave citizens, organizations and businesses a chance to meet and exchange ideas.

Daniel Force, a member of the OSU Sustainable Student Initiative program, talked about the student-funded campus center that contains a bike co-op to offer cheap, green transportation. At the co-op, people can swap bike parts or, for those short on cash, work at the center to earn credits toward bikes or parts.

The center also is open for questions about sustainable landscaping, energy savings and gardening.

"A lot of people come with questions and want to know if they can compost on campus," Force said. "They can; we have a big pile in the yard that we use on our vegetable garden."

The sustainability town hall has become the yearly progress report of the 160-member organization, a coalition of organizations including businesses, nonprofits, churches, the City of Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon State University and the Corvallis School District. The coalition's goal is to create a sustainable community.

Besides hearing an update on coalition projects, participants were asked to talk in small groups about the topics that most interested them, their top sustainability priorities and the challenges they face when trying to make green choices in their lives.

Justin Russell, a member of the Corvallis Community Energy Project, said his group is canvassing the Job's Addition neighborhood and is finding interest in green projects - but limited resources to follow through.

"Everyone thinks it's a great idea and wants to do stuff, and nobody has the money," he said. "It's a pretty consistent thing."

The Community Energy Project is staffed by a handful of students and others who go door to door to talk about energy tax credits and other incentives for weatherization and energy efficiency.

Answers collected during the town hall small-group sessions will help shape the coalition's outreach for the coming year and recruit new members into its action groups.

The coalition first formed in 2008, when it attracted hundreds to a series of three town hall meetings to identify priorities and create 12 action groups to brainstorm policy changes in such areas as community inclusion, economic vitality, energy, food, land use, transportation and water.

Originally part of the Oregon Natural Step Network, the coalition became its own independent nonprofit organization in August.

Matt Neznanski can be reached at 758-9518 or matt.neznanski

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