It’s a safe bet that the city of Lawrence’s composting facility isn’t on anyone’s must-see list while traveling in the United States or even in Kansas.
But, that’s exactly where a group of six Russians were touring Tuesday morning. As they walked by long piles of yard debris, they snapped photos and asked questions.
Most of them were either environmental administrators or advocates and came from all over Russia. They were in Lawrence as part of the Open World Program Delegations, which is funded almost entirely by Congress and is intended to foster relationships with the United States and countries of Eurasia.
The group will be visiting Lawrence until Sunday and is being officially hosted by the Kansas University Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. The group spent a few days in Washington D.C., before coming to Lawrence.
Along with the city’s composting facility, they had plans to see the Bowersock Dam, the city of Greensburg, which became a model for building a green community after a devastating tornado, and a building constructed by a group of KU architecture students that has a wind turbine, rain garden, green roof and an electric vehicle charging station.
Roman Romashin, a deputy director for a utility company in the southwestern part of Russia, said through an interpreter that he has seen areas where Russia could learn from what the United States is doing and the United States could benefit from what Russia is doing.
“What has become readily apparent in our two days is the fact that both countries face the same problems,” Romashin said and noted that he would like to better understand the American approach to solving those problems.
Maria Zhevlakova, who works with an environmental education organization in Saint Petersburg, said environmental problems tend to be international in scope.
“With all the environmental issues, especially now with globalization, you can’t find where one problem starts and where it finishes because they cover continents,” she said.