Following the most destructive wildfire in state history, many Bastrop residents are still rebuilding, but there's a move to encourage fire victims to do more than simply replace their lost property.
Like many others who lost everything in the fire, Dorothy Skarnulis with Keep Bastrop County Beautiful has rebuilt her home in Bastrop, but this time around, there was a new focus.
"We looked at energy efficiency, rainwater harvesting, drought-resistant landscaping," she said. "You can look at things in a more sustainable way because you're starting fresh."
That new perspective was the inspiration of the first-ever Heart of Texas Green Expo in Bastrop, designed to promote environmentally friendly lifestyles. It presented the latest in green technology, including solar water heaters, heat exchangers and holistic lawn and garden products.
"As most folk artists do, I paint on recycled materials. This wood was donated to me by the mill shop here in Bastrop," local artist Susan Michutka said. “I've actually got paintings all over the world now and unfortunately, I think a lot burned in the fire.”
Ken Peck and his wife came from Smithville with open mind. After a short while, they had their eyes on the electric bikes.
"The appeal is no gasoline, no insurance, no license plate," Peck said. "A lot of my running around I could use it and, you know, save money."
It’s the kind of thinking which organizers hope to nurture in all Bastrop County residents.
“I'm glad to see that Bastrop is really jumping on the bandwagon about it. I think it's very important that we change our ways," Michutka said.
The Heart of Texas Green Expo continues Saturday at the Bastrop Convention Center with events designed for kids and families. For event details and seminar schedule, check out HeartofTexasGreenExpo.org.