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Highlights of Sustainable Programming at Beacon Hill

By, Sarah Johnson, Service and Events Manager

This Spring, sustainability has been on our minds in programming and events across Beacon Hill. April 22nd marked the 54th anniversary of Earth Day, and Beacon Hill intentionally focused on Mother Earth with a wide variety of eco-focused programming. Sustainability and care for our planet and its resources is a critical focus for many of our staff and residents, who are interested in making changes today that will have a positive lasting impact for generations to come.

The first notable event of the month was the shared experience of witnessing the solar eclipse on April 8th. Residents across the continuum gathered to marvel at this celestial phenomenon right above us, with additional excitement viewing the eclipse experience across the country via National Geographic. While we weren’t “in totality,” it was still a remarkable event!

The very next day, we were delighted to welcome back Sustainability Advisor Joe Rinkevich to continue work on our community-wide sustainability initiative. I’m pleased to share that close to 50 residents attended the Coffee & Conversation session and Phase 2 kickoff, and nearly 30 residents engaged in Joe’s enlightening Professional Roundtable Series on the evening of April 9th. Together, we delved into strategies for collecting data at the residential level, aiming for a deeper understanding of individual resource utilization here at Beacon Hill. This gathering also featured a brief recap of Phase 1 accomplishments and offered a preview of the work plan and objectives for Phase 2.

Garden Café Manager Maggie Thiel welcomed both returning and new gardeners to sign up for the Beacon Hill Community Garden. This communal space offers residents the opportunity to cultivate flowers and produce while fostering a sense of community and sustainability.

In keeping with the theme of environmental awareness, April’s “Dinner and a Movie” event featured the acclaimed documentary “Biggest Little Farm.” The film follows the eight-year journey of John and Molly Chester as they transform barren farmland into a thriving ecosystem, showcasing the power of sustainable agriculture. The culinary team thoughtfully curated a menu to complement the film, creating a holistic experience for attendees.

Literature enthusiasts at Beacon Hill engaged in thought-provoking discussions centered around environmental issues. The April Book Club selection, “The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy” by Anna Clark, sparked dialogue about the intersection of environmental justice and public health. Additionally, author Debra Rienstra visited Beacon Hill to discuss her book “Refugia Faith,” further exploring themes of resilience and faith in the face of environmental challenges.

As part of the ongoing commitment to education and advocacy, Beacon Hill hosted the virtual Wege Speaker Series featuring Sarah Jaquette Ray. Her presentation, titled “How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet: A Toolkit for Climate Justice,” provided residents with valuable insights and strategies for addressing climate change on both individual and collective levels.

Small steps can make a significant difference in sustainability. How can you do your part?

  • Conserve Water. Did you know that reducing your daily shower by 1 minute can save water up to 900 gallons per year? Set your timer when you take a shower. As you brush your teeth, turn off the tap.
  • Go Green while shopping. Bring cloth or canvas bags with you on your weekly shopping trip.
  • Take the BH bus to Meijer to save on carbon emissions from fuel.
  • Address your dirty laundry. Did you know that several hundred million jugs of laundry detergent are thrown away each year in the US alone? Switch from liquid detergent to laundry sheets. Not only is it green, but detergent sheets also save space in your home and the small box is a lot lighter to carry than a heavy jug.
  • Go to the library instead of buying books.
  • Participate in the BHSCI Sustainability Assessment during the month of May
  • Visit the BH Sustainability page on our website at

It is the simple things we do that go a long way to conserve the environment. What will you do?

You belong here.

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Beacon Hill at Eastgate is a distinctive, not-for-profit retirement community located in Grand Rapids’ desirable Eastgate neighborhood.

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