June 19, 2006 – St. John resident John Levering is on an environmental mission. "One person can make a difference," he said.
Levering is a familiar face at meetings where the environment is the topic. He's the chairman of the V.I. Waste Management Authority's Citizen Advisory Committee and chairman of the St. John Recycling Forum, both groups aimed at addressing the island's solid waste problems. And he's the finance director at the Island Green Building Association.
The St. John Recycling Forum, in conjunction with the St. John Community Foundation, has been working for several years to get a glass pulverizer, more commonly called a crusher, online for St. John. Levering said he is confident that the pulverizer will become a reality. He said the machine itself is on St. John, but funding for accessories is still an issue.
While the WMA's Citizen Advisory Committee and the Recycling Forum are what Levering does as a volunteer, he's also in the business of selling environmentally-friendly products. He's the representative for several companies that sell such products and is in partnership with other territorial residents in forming Caribbean Commercial Chemicals, a company now in the process of applying for Economic Development Commission benefits.
Levering, 61, arrived on St. John in August 1999. He got his foot on the island by working in Maho Bay Camps four-hour work program, which has participants working four hours a day, seven days a week in exchange for a bed in a tent.
He said he convinced camps' management to let him work seven hours a day for four days a week so he'd have time to get involved with the community.
Levering had hardly unpacked his suitcase when he was on the volunteer list at Julius E. Sprauve School. Then principal Shirley Joseph quickly recruited him to work on the annual Sprauve School Gala, which raises money for school projects.
After moving on from Maho Bay Camps, he started John Levering and Associates in order to serve as a manufacture's representative for environmentally-friendly chemical companies.
Levering got to this point in his life by a very roundabout process. Born in Chicago, he was always interested in mechanical things. After stints at Colorado State University and the University of Arizona, he left college to take over the family business when his father died.
By then he was interested in helping the environment, but real life in the form of family obligations, marriage, divorce and taking care of his aging mother intervened. He said he developed an exercise and nutrition program for his mother, who suffered from dementia, that helped improve the quality of her life.
When she died, he decided to head off to the Caribbean, picking St. John for things like good phone service that would make it easier to be in business.
He said he decided a business with no inventory and no staff would serve him best, which is why he worked as a manufacturer's representative.
Laughing, he said that goal is changing a bit, thanks to his involvement with Caribbean Commercial Chemicals.
Levering said he doesn't have much free time, but when he does he helps out with the Animal Care Center of St. John's cat feeding stations, listens to jazz, enjoys the view and goes to the beach.
"I love calling people in upstate New York when it's snowing so they can hear the water at the beach," he said.
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