Earth Day 2010: What should be on Ann Arbor's environmental agenda going forward?
Forty years ago today, the first Earth Day was celebrated with teach-ins and demonstrations around the country demanding environmental change.Â
A lot has changed in the last 40 years, but the goal of protecting and improving the environment has stayed the same and grown in urgency in recent years.
AnnArbor.com caught up with a few folks in town who keep a pulse on environmental goals in the city and asked what they think needs to rise to the top of the local environmental agenda in the next 40 years. Here's what they said:
Nancy Shore, program director for Get Downtown:
"I would like to see a commitment and investment in seeing people living and working closer together; more compact housing developments happening so people can walk or bike to their jobs. One of the biggest reasons people choose to drive is because they live too far away. I would like to see a commitment to creating more housing, more affordable hosuing closer to the downtown core to encourage more people to live here so they could reduce their carbon footprint. I'd like to see more rail options, more of a regional transportation system that’s countywide would be a great move forward to giving people more options "
John Hiefje, Ann Arbor mayor:
"A lot of it is continuing on the course we’re on. One of the big things that could affect Ann Arbor and the whole region is the east/west railway or the success of rail transit in general. We need to be looking, again, at that carbon-challenged future. Even with global warming factors aside, the price of energy is going to go up. It seems clear the price of energy is only going to go up, so we need to have strategies to prepare for that. Local agriculture is one facet of the sustainability challenge and energy conservation is the forte of city government."
Terry Alexander, executive director of the University of Michigan's Office of Campus Sustainability:
"In my personal opinion, we need a balance between the environmental, the social and the economic side of this picture If we’re looking at trying to capture all three of those areas we need to look at trying to find, and this is what a lot of our research is doing right now, a solution to the world's energy problem, and in the process create some start-up companies to help the local economy. And in the process, you’re helping the environment. Energy is probably the number one ticket we have to be concerned about."
Mike Shriberg, policy director at The Ecology Center:
"The top agenda item I would put up is a more comprehensive plan of action about how we're going to cut our carbon emissions by 80 percent in the next 40 years because it’s going to take at least that effort to stabilitze climate to a level at which humans can thrive. What I think is that opens up all kinds of opportunities, for instance, when it comes to local foods As a community that’s where we need to put our focus."
Lisa Gottlieb, founder of Repasts, Present and Future organization promoting slow food and local agriculture:
"My interests are primarily around local food, local sustainable agriculture and reducing our carbon footprint. We can work on an individual basis, as families and at a community level. I think that's how things are going to get done The local food summit promoted the 10 percent campaign to purchase 10 percent of all food in Washtenaw County in the next 10 years to increase jobs and the local food community. It's something people can do. It's the little things that make a difference in the long run."