Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why Cities are the Future 1

Green City, Clean Waters Promo from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

What's interesting to me is how cities are picking up the pieces as our national government drops the ball. This fits in nicely with the article from last week about how Chicago is taking drastic and concrete steps to prepare the city's infrastructure for global warming. Meanwhile, conservative politicians in the pockets of big oil and major polluters deny there is any such thing happening.

It ties in to my thesis, that cities will be the only functional level of government in the future, particularly in the US, as national governments are defunded by capital which is borderless and can flow anywhere, and as politicians are corrupted by the legalized bribery of our election "system." City planners and technocrats are able to implement their visions because unlike the national level, local politicians at the city level are less likely to be in the pockets of big energy and major corporations. While local businesses may have some sway in city government, all the lobbyists are in Washington D.C. (some 300 per legislator, I think).

Relatively free from that level of corruption and with problems immediately nearby and unable to be ignored (unlike Washington DC, which may as well be on another planet), city governments are implementing solution, whether it's the radical shrinkage of Detroit, global warming preparations in Chicago, or the above plans in Philadelphia. And it's not confined to the United States. Check out these scenes from the formerly infamous "drug capital" of Medellin, Columbia:

While it may not be quite as comprehensive as Philadelphia, or as radical, much closer to home is the following proposal:

One five-block stretch of a south-side street could be transformed into a "green street" and become an urban laboratory for storm-water management practices, under a design proposal from three Marquette University engineering students.

S. 6th St., stretching from Bolivar Ave. south to Armour Ave., would be reconstructed so it could hold rain where it falls and use it in growing trees and flowers and replenishing groundwater.

Paved roads traditionally send rainwater into storm sewers that discharge to creeks, adding to downstream flooding, said Sean Foltz, associate director of the clean water program for American Rivers, a national conservation organization.

A 1-inch rainfall on this section of S. 6th St. would yield 116,000 gallons of storm water, Foltz said. The students' design, incorporating such simple steps as planters for shrubs and flowers between the road and sidewalk, or bioswales that are specially constructed ditches designed to absorb water rather than drain it away, has a much greater capacity for water retention, said Foltz, who acted as a mentor for the students.

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