For Immediate Release: February 14, 2008
Don’t Stop With the Compact:
‘Rustbelt’ Cities Coalition Thanks Presidential Frontrunners for Supporting Great Lakes Compact,
Calls for Regional Urban Agenda in Three Upcoming Great Lakes Primaries:
Wisconsin: February 19
Ohio: March 4
Pennsylvania: April 22
Thursday, February 14th – With the eyes of the nation fixed on the increasingly influential Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania primaries, members of the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) network urge Presidential frontrunners of both parties to develop an agenda for the urban revitalization of the post-industrial cities of the nation’s freshwater basin, and to make that agenda public as soon as possible.
The Great Lakes Compact, to which Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama all pledge support, would ban diversions and establish fair, consistent, and binding rules for Great Lakes water use. State legislatures across eight states are in the process of approving the Great Lakes Compact, which will also require U.S. Congressional approval.
Commitment to the Great Lakes Compact, GLUE members argue, is a laudable but incomplete idea portfolio for a region that boasts 33% of the country’s population, 90% of its freshwater, 36% of its advanced degrees, and close to 40 million urban dwellers. The US cannot afford to ignore the challenges this region faces.
“The economic potential of the Great Lakes region will not be fully realized unless water protection is paired with inclusive and innovative reinvestment in cities like Milwaukee, Erie, and Youngstown,” said Pittsburgh native Abby Wilson, Co-Founder of GLUE. “The shared potential of our region’s environmental and human capital is truly extraordinary, but untapped – partly because our cities are struggling. The region’s cities should be the laboratory, the nucleus, and the expression of that possibility.”
Official campaign websites of Senators Clinton and Obama reveal “rural” issue platforms that address economic development and quality of life, yet neither they nor Senator McCain have established a similar forum for “urban” proposals, let alone one for Great Lakes cities specifically.
“Even today, Midwestern states send more of their tax dollars to the federal government than they receive in return investment,” said Ryan Horton, Senior Policy Researcher at the Public Policy Forum, Milwaukee resident, and GLUE team member. “It is critical that our 44th president, whether Democrat or Republican, is prepared to implement an urban reinvestment strategy the day he or she takes office.”
“Across the world, the number of people moving to cities drastically outpaces the ability of infrastructure to support them. Yet my city and others like it are fighting tooth and nail to stave off population decline,” Detroit native and GLUE Co-Founder Sarah Szurpicki said. “We can’t continue to sideline this region as our nation evolves in the 21st century.”
GLUE, a coalition comprised of post-boomer urbanists located in the “rustbelt,” was founded to promote the power, aide in the positive transformation, and address the shared challenges of similarly-storied older industrial cities situated in the Great Lakes watershed. Among the ranks of GLUE coalition members are community organizers, urban planners, artists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and students living and working in over twenty cities in ten states. GLUE operates on four guiding principles:
Urbanism: Cities are our world’s economic drivers. Decision makers cannot afford to underestimate their value nor overlook their needs.
Regionalism: Great Lakes urban centers need to overcome outlooks of despair and isolation by forging a shared perspective and developing strength in numbers.
Storytelling: White papers alone cannot propel an agenda, particularly for the emerging generation of leadership. No need is expressed more powerfully than via human narrative.
Network Building: Connecting people and institutions who share challenges and objectives will foster regional collaboration and transfer examples of success throughout the basin.
GLUE was developed in the fall of 2007 as a forum for people to exchange stories, ideas, and best practices between otherwise isolated cities ranging from Buffalo to St. Louis to Minneapolis. GLUE’s permanent online home is in development at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Visit GLUE’s temporary blog for a complete list of involved cities and the latest on their activities.