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Glenn and Susan Arnold: small steps to a greener footprint

Friends & Neighbors: EVERYONE HAS A STORY.

April 22, 2009
By YVONA?FAST, Special to the Enterprise

A green lifestyle is a priority to Susan and Glenn Arnold.

"We have done the little things others are doing, like changing our light bulbs to compact fluorescents," Glenn said.

But they have done much more. They're avid recyclers, they've begun composting, and they have a vegetable garden.

Article Photos

Glenn and Susan Arnold
(Photo —Yvona Fast)

Susan and Glenn have also researched and purchased a pellet stove.

"This winter, we used just two tons of pellets to heat this house," Susan said. "It is very clean; there are fewer carbon particles than with wood."

"We saved about $1,200 by not using fuel oil," Glenn added.

"A few years ago, we decided to use only one car," Susan said. "We could do that only because Glenn is willing to walk and ride his bike to his job at Will Rogers during the warmer months."

She, too, contributes by taking the bus to her job at The Wild Center.

"It's the best deal in town: just $2 for seniors, and great companionship and conversation on the way to and from work," Susan said. "I leave at 7 a.m., and I'm home by 5 p.m. And we drive 10,000 miles less each year - saving money, gas and carbon emissions."

Although they didn't know each other yet, Susan and Glenn both participated in the first Earth Day observance on April 22, 1970. Both came from farm families: Glenn's in Franklin Falls, and Susan's in northwestern Pennsylvania, near Elmira, N.Y. Susan recalls her grandfather inviting her and her sisters to pull carrots and beets fresh from his garden, and Glenn reminisces about the Arnold homestead where he spent time in his youth helping with chores and haying.

In 1977, Susan came to Saranac Lake to visit a friend who had recently moved here, and immediately fell in love with the town.

"I loved how everything flowed down into the lakeside village from the hills and mountains surrounding it," Susan said. "Saranac Lake gave me a chance to start a new life. I told myself I would never have a job that I didn't find meaningful again. Here, you can be anyone you want to be. The community was so welcoming and friendly to me and my son, Peter."

Glenn and Susan met at church in the winter of 1978 and together ran the Noonmark Natural Foods store, which first started in the old Berkeley Hotel. The store was small but continued to grow with lots of public support.

"We held cooking contests and were featured on the K & J show," Susan said. "We went into the schools and showed the kids how bread was made, beginning with grinding grain into flour."

Glenn remembered when the store was featured in a major Whole Foods magazine as an example of a smaller store in a hometown community.

They were married later that year and moved into Glenn's three-story cure cottage on Helen Street, which they later turned into The Porches Bed and Breakfast. "That old, historic house had charm, and I was able to grow peppers that actually turned red because of the abundance of sunlight and a sheltered garden spot," Glenn recalled.

Because they wanted greater security, such as insurance and retirement benefits, they sold the food store and moved into regular employment. Glenn worked as a carpenter and then in electrical contracting; Susan worked for North Country Home Services and later as the director of the Saranac Lake Youth Center, The Getaway.

"I always wanted to work for environmental causes," Susan said. "I started volunteering for The Nature Conservancy to stay involved with nature and the Adirondacks and served as a conservation easement monitor. I respected and cherished the work of The Nature Conservancy. Their mission, protecting special places from development, is important to me. I always hoped I could work there eventually."

That dream would come true, but it would mean leaving the mountains. In 1995, Glenn and Susan made a wintertime visit to Martha's Vineyard, where Susan had worked as a waitress in 1965.

"In just three days, Glenn found a full-time electrician's job," Susan said. "When we bought the Martha's Vineyard Gazette for job search purposes, there was an ad for outreach coordinator for The Nature Conservancy.

"After a grueling interview process, I was hired full time. We rented a small cottage and worked on the Vineyard from 1995 to 2002. There was always fresh produce available, and we joined a small CSA just up the road from our home. The grasslands and native plants, like butterfly weed, were different than the Adirondack forests. We missed the mountains and lakes, our friends and the community here. So in 2002, we came back home to Saranac Lake."

When the couple returned, they both landed jobs, Glenn at Will Rogers and Susan at The Wild Center, which was just in the start-up process.

"We feel so fortunate to have come upon these opportunities at this point in our lives," Glenn said.

Since returning to the area, Susan has become involved with the Adirondack Green Circle, a group that works to inspire the community to embrace sustainability. She recently led and hosted the Voluntary Simplicity workshop sponsored by the group. Glenn likes singing with the Adirondack Community Chorus and playing board games. They both enjoy walking in the woods, canoeing on area lakes and ponds and spending time with family and friends.

They both agree that Susan's work at The Wild Center jumpstarted their green living efforts. "The Featured Farmers and Food Miles programs, climate change conferences, New Path ideas, and other green initiatives increased our awareness and desire to have a greener footprint," Glenn said.

"The Green Circle's group study courses, Choices for Sustainable Living and Menu for the Future, deepened our knowledge further," Susan added. "The knowledge we gained was a real awakening for us.

"Saranac Lake has provided a wonderful life for us. Raising Peter here, making lifelong friendships, participating in the community has transformed us. We are thankful for the love and support of everything we've done and been through."


Based on an interview with

Glenn and Susan Arnold.

Yvona Fast can be reached at



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