Eric Stewart is trying to get the Tampa Bay to go green.
Code Green Community (http://www.codegreencommunity.org) is an online community and website created and run by Stewart, 26, a Holiday resident. The purpose of it, Stewart said, is to help make the Tampa Bay more energy-efficient and sustainable.
The website itself is open-source, meaning members can upload content like blog posts, photos and green events in Tampa Bay. They can network with like-minded individuals and groups to plan more far-reaching, relevant events in communities. It's a place to share ideas, learn from less successful ventures and celebrate being progressive.
The site works not only in the Tampa Bay area, but to promote and support Transition Movements throughout the U.S. These are grassroots movements helping communities become sustainable in the face of peak oil, climate change and a bad economy.
Stewart runs Transition New Port Richey (TNPR), a local movement gaining speed through CGC.
“I’m really trying to take this on a personal level,” Stewart said. “I’ve really changed my own life and am trying to create community groups in own town. CGC is an effort to transition our own town and a way to show off what we are doing around the community.”
At his home in Holiday, Stewart is changing his front, side and back yards into vegetable and fruit gardens, much like New Port Richey resident Jim Kovaleski. He takes photos and video of the process and shares them on the site and on YouTube.
When Stewart isn’t growing food in his own yard, he’s out in the surrounding cities and counties networking with like-minded groups like Ignite Tampa Bay (ITB), an organization fostering creative ideas in the arts, technical, health, education and business communities through five-minute presentations.
“The past two years I’ve been kind of the connector, going around with a camera in my hand, meeting people, getting in with the communities and learning who they are and encouraging them to use the website,” Stewart said.
Stewart said Code Green gets about 100 hits a day with new member subscriptions every day, currently totaling 463 members. The site is it’s own network but also has a Facebook group and page to catch different audiences.
Code Green Community is currently partnering with Going Green Tampa to create a directory of eco-friendly Tampa Bay businesses. It will also be open-source and members can post green businesses like farmer’s markets or garden suppliers onto a map for others to find.
Stewart got his start in the green movement at St. Petersburg College, were he studied biology. Though he didn’t graduate, studying populations and climate control got him thinking.
“We need to get our act together and start working on getting away from fossil fuels and localizing our economy,” Stewart said. “I’m not sure that the global economy works. We have to reimagine it, and I think it's going to be local, and it's going to be green.”
Stewart says that besides networking and working behind a computer screen, he gets out into the community to get his hands dirty.
“I’ve been shoveling dirt with community gardens and getting out there to do things with the people,” Stewart said. “It gives me a real connection with them. I want this idea of ‘We can do it together Tampa Bay.’”
Through Code Green Community and Transition New Port Richey, Stewart hopes to collaborate with cities, local law enforcement and businesses to help people care about their communities and build a cottage industry.
Communication is key, Stewart said.
For now, Stewart’s travel expenses have been covered out of his own pocket. Although he hopes to make a living from this one day, a conversation he laughed about having with his mother recently, he does try to let his ethics guide his work now and so works at a locally-owned restaurant in Odessa called Pappas Ranch.
“I love what I’m doing,” Stewart said. “...I think all we need to do is start talking about the real issues. I’ve started up a green tea party. We are greenifying Tampa Bay."