Pat McGannon knew the kind of damage humans were inflicting on the earth from a young age. A lifelong Bay Village resident, he was shocked at the amount of litter and pollution he saw on his way to St. Ignatius High School every morning.
“I saw that everything is not as pretty as it is in Bay,” McGannon, 42, said. “You had garbage and bags blowing freely on the highway. Seeing the environment and how different it was in just a 15-mile drive, it really affected me.”
Now as president of the Bay Village Green Team, a nonprofit organization of 20 volunteers dedicated to making Bay Village more sustainable, he’s working to change that.
This year, the team conducted five waterway cleanup projects that have collected more than 400 pounds of trash from Cahoon and Sperry creeks and Columbia Beach on Lake Erie. The group has also held sustainability workshops at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center and a “Shred Day,” for Habitat for Humanity where the team collected more than 10 tons of paper to shred and recycle, McGannon said.
The group also teamed with the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District for a $2,500 grant for water quality monitoring kits. The two plan to use the small tube-like devices to monitor pH balance and toxin levels in the city’s waterways.
“It’s been very refreshing working with him,” said Jaimie Johnson, watershed coordinator for the conservation district. “He’s very proactive and positive. He knows the issues that Lake Erie and lakeshore communities face with trash and debris going into the streams. He knows what it can do to the habitat and he’s willing to put in the hard work to help make the improvements.”
McGannon joined when the city’s previous mayor, Debbie Sutherland, founded the group in 2007. Sutherland wanted to introduce a more sustainable lifestyle for the community and, due to an overwhelming response from the city, formed the Green Team.
Since its inception, the team has worked with the city on multiple projects including legislation that defined the proper use of solar panels. In 2010, the team also campaigned for automated trash pickup, which increased the city’s recycling efforts by 30%.
When he’s not working on making Bay Village green, McGannon works as vice president of an IT consulting firm called OneLink Technical Services. When he’s not wrapped up in technology or environmental work, you can find him hiking, biking or swimming in the parks he wants to protect.
For McGannon, the team’s work is never done. This year, it plans to continue its waterway cleanups in Bay Village and host workshops and programs to encourage residents to live more sustainably.
“It’s important for individuals to first understand the issues that exist with items that we buy and the things we throw out,” McGannon said. “People need to understand how it affects the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.”
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