Archive for April, 2008

From Randy Vines in St. Louis:

St. Louis GLUEster Michael Allen was interviewed recently on KWMU’s (local NPR affiliate) “St. Louis on the Air” about the importance of preserving our built environment.  In an age of soulless suburban sprawl, our city’s historic fabric has become its leading competitive advantage.  Listen here.


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Detroit Today logoWhen I first moved back to the Detroit area, I asked people how to best get reacquainted with my hometown, and a number of them told me to listen to Detroit Today on Detroit Public Radio – which I have been doing ever since.  It’s become one of my favorite radio shows, and is an incredible resource for Detroiters.  It covers a wide breadth of topics and perspectives; yet somehow, each show feels relevant to me as a listener.  Abby and I were interviewed on Detroit Today last Thursday (I was thrilled to the point of unprofessionalism when we received the invitation).

Abby and I talked with host Craig Fahle about how far GLUE has come, and our hopes for its future.  You can listen here.

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Below are the remaining Sticky Meeting results, again, unfiltered, from those meetings held on Thursday, April 10. (Duluth had to cancel due to a blizzard warning, sadly – I guess we’re not the same in EVERY way).

Detroit Brainstorm + Reply from Toledo, 4.10.08

Cleveland Brainstorm + Reply from Detroit, 4.10.08

St Louis Brainstorm + Reply from Pittsburgh, 4.10.08

Toledo Brainstorm + Reply from St. Louis, 4.10.08

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Margaret Weber has been a coordinator of a Detroit local drop-off recycling facility for 18 years. She and other Detroit-area environmentalists and activists, including members of the Sierra Club, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Rosedale Recycles, and Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, have recently formed the Coalition for a Clean and Green Detroit (which is new enough that no website yet exists) to make sure that Detroit seizes “the once in a generation opportunity we have now,” according to Margaret, “to totally change the way we treat the business of waste in Detroit.”

The Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority (GDRRA) has been incinerating most of Detroit’s trash since 1989. According to this Metro Times article, the city of Detroit currently recycles only 3% of its waste – a paltry amount compared to other cities. The rest is burned at the GDRRA, at a cost to the city of $90 million in 2006-2007 over the incoming revenues.

In addition to the financial cost, there are the health concerns. Some studies link proximity to waste incinerators as significantly tied to increased rates of asthma, mercury and dioxin levels, and lung and other cancers, although the GDRRA claims that its emissions are below “safe levels” of toxins set by the EPA.

Detroit’s debt obligation with the GDRRA is set to run out in June 2009. But the city will be deciding in the next few weeks whether to buy the incinerator, renew its lease, or to change how it treats its trash.

Said Margaret, “I can’t overstate the uniqueness of this opportunity. Moving to a new system that includes curb-side recycling will create jobs and have lasting effects on our health and environment.”

Lee Gaddies, a community activist with the Bagley Community Council (and a candidate for State Rep in the 7th District), believes this is about not just economics and health, but a needed change in the relationship between business and government.  He urges, “We have to demand that our politicians muster the courage to do what’s right for all the citizens of Detroit – not just the business owners who financed their campaigns.”

On Monday, April 14, 2008, Detroit’s City Council passed a resolution that states, “Council will only support a budget proposal for waste disposal for FY 2008-09 that includes assurances of the following provisions, [including] A systematic plan adopted by GDRRA to transform Detroit’s solid waste system to one of materials recovery utilizing a materials recovery facility (MRF) with comprehensive curbside recycling, and landfills to supplement this system.”

As with many governmental decisions, the decision to buy, lease, or walk away from the incinerator will be made not through a vote or a public process, but during budget negotiations.

That means, if you’d like to weigh in, you have to act quickly. According to Margaret, citizens who wish to effect the outcome should offer expressions of support for the Council’s recent resolution. You can write a Letter to the Editor, contact Council members, or write a letter to the Mayor. You can also get involved by emailing Margaret at mmgweber@gmail.com.

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Chris Briem, one of the Pittsburgh area’s most beloved bloggers, brought my attention to a Richard Florida piece in the April 12th edition of The Wall Street Journal.

The money quote?

The real driving force of the world economy is a new and incredibly powerful economic unit: the mega-region.

And where do we line up?

The world’s largest mega is Greater Tokyo, with 55 million people and $2.5 trillion in economic activity. Next is the 500-mile Boston-Washington corridor, with some 54 million people and $2.2 trillion in output. Also in the top 10 are mega-regions that run from Chicago to Pittsburgh, Atlanta to Charlotte, Miami to Tampa, and L.A. to San Diego. Outside of the U.S., you can find megas around Amsterdam, London, Osaka and Nagoya, Milan, Rome and Turin, and Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

I wouldn’t have started this project if I didn’t believe our ‘mega-region’ stretches beyond Chicago and Pittsburgh, but it is heartening nonetheless to see this idea find its way into another major American opinion page. And yes, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Detroit Free Press are major opinion pages, thank you very much.

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We’ve previously talked about the clear economic benefits of Great Lakes restoration. The Brookings Institution’s Healthy Waters, Healthy Economy report demonstrates that implementing the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy would, with an investment of $26 billion, create between $80 and $100 billion worth of benefits. But while this report made a convincing argument that we’d see a return in increased property values, tourism, fishing, and decreased municipal costs, among other categories, it didn’t answer the question: where?

Now Brookings and partners (the Council of Great Lakes Industries, the Healing Our Waters Coalition, and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative) have created a supplement that might be sufficiently local to get the attention of our local leaders. You can read the press release here, and the Place-Specific Benefits report here.  An excerpt from the press release:

“Millions of people depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, recreation and way of life,” said Andy Buchsbaum, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “This analysis shows us that restoring the Great Lakes isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.  Cleaner lakes mean a healthier regional economy and a healthier place to call home. The time to act is now.”

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From Ann Mestrovich in Buffalo:

From June 24th through June 27th, thousands of Buffalo natives and anyone interested in experiencing the Queen City at its best will come “home” to rediscover what makes this city so great. This event was started in 2006 by a grassroots group of volunteers looking to celebrate the city and bring others back. This year’s outreach will include a home-grown campaign to “Bring the Herd Home,” where locals will be asked to register and invite five friends home for the event.

For more information visit: www.buffalohomecoming.com

What is Buffalo Homecoming?

Buffalo Homecoming 2008 is a celebration of the best of Buffalo for those who are in Buffalo because they want to be, and for those who are not in Buffalo, but wish they were…

What Are We REALLY Trying To Accomplish?

We believe that the Buffalo Homecoming event can play a critical role in:

• Keeping those who want to be in Buffalo here

• Bringing back those who have left but would prefer to be in Buffalo

• Attracting creative class urban professionals of all ages to Buffalo

• Showcasing Buffalo’s many often over-looked assets and revealing the Buffalo and Western New York area as a vibrant, growing community

• Showing why Buffalo Niagara is a great place to live, work, play and invest to a broad group of individuals who care

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