from the Metroland:
Our annual tribute to Capital Region residents who make a difference
Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew
Co-founders of the Radix Center, husband-and-wife team Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew are showing Albany that sustainable urban living is as feasible as it is necessary.
“I was involved in a lot of activist work, particularly with the global justice movement in the late ’90s,” says Scott Kellogg. “A catchphrase of that movement was ‘Another world is possible.’ We would say it a lot, but we weren’t really sure what it meant. The activist community knew very much about what it was opposed to, what it didn’t like. What I wanted to do was come up with a model that we were actually in favor of . . . so that for every no, we would have a yes.”
In his quest for solutions, Kellogg and his wife, Stacy Pettigrew, connected with the permaculture and sustainability movements—and quickly became leaders in the field, establishing the Rhizome Collective in Austin, Texas, and coauthoring The Toolbox for Sustainable City Living. Family life recently drew them back to the Northeast, and the pair are already shaking the status quo with their newest endeavor: reclaiming a vacant lot in Albany’s Mansion neighborhood for the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center.
Over the past two years, the couple have navigated the city’s murky legal waters. They succeeded in securing a zoning variance to do nonprofit educational work on the site, received approval from the planning department for an educational greenhouse—the plans for which are currently at the building department—and a variance allowing them to keep livestock on the site.
The bureaucratic waiting game certainly hasn’t kept them from getting to work. The once-vacant, trash-filled Grand Street property is now home to raised garden beds, composting and mushroom-growing operations, beehives, chickens, even goats. The team pressed cider on a turn-of-the-century cider press with local schoolchildren and have developed a youth sustainability curriculum around the Radix Center. They held two immersive Regenerative Urban Sustainability Trainings in Albany this summer—offering more than 85 people practical tools for implementing practices including urban aquaculture, rainwater collection, composting, mycoscaping and biofuel use. And, most recently, they established the Radix Community Composting Initiative, a curbside compost pickup service that serves double duty, reclaiming community food waste and generating organic material for the center’s gardens.
Both agree that there is a lot of work to be done in the Capital Region, but they remain hopeful about the area’s potential to emerge as a national leader in urban sustainability. And they’re determined to show Albany how it’s done.
“A lot of people only have vague notions of what it means to be green or sustainable,” says Kellogg. “What’s very important is to have functioning demonstrations of what this looks like. To show that this is something that anyone, even in an apartment building, can be engaged in. . . . to show that sustainability is possible, that the technical issues have been worked out, and that it’s something that is beautiful and fun—that sustainable living is not just about sacrifice, but is something that you will gain great joy and pleasure from as well.”
With the Radix Center leading Albany by example, Kellogg hopes “the idea of making this urgent transition becomes an adventure.”