1. Small Towns Share a Roadmap to Economic Recovery

    If you’ve ever driven Interstate 35 north or south through the nation’s mid-section, you’ve probably stopped in Emporia, Kan. - or at least seen the exits. The highway bisects the small, Midwestern city, which lies approximately halfway between Kansas City and Wichita. If you’re familiar with the area as more than just a rest stop, you have likely observed some changes in recent years.Like many small and mid-sized American cities, Emporia experienced population decline and economic stagnation in recent decades. Rather than resign itself to such a fate, though, the city picked itself up by its bootstraps.
  2. Soil Erosion is Everyone's Problem

    Losing ground is never a good situation.Soil erosion had been declining since the late 1970s, but latest statistics show “we’re headed back up,” said Rick Cruse, professor of agronomy at Iowa State University in Ames.
  3. Growing Sustainable Communities Conference Slated Oct. 4-5

    DUBUQUE, Iowa – A conference that provides workshops, mobile tours and keynote presentations on the latest developments in community sustainability and resiliency initiatives will be held Oct. 4-5 at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque.Registration is now open on the conference web site at www.GSCDubuque.com.
  4. Wetland Restoration Promises Many Benefits

    CHAPEL HILL, Tenn. -- A 65-acre agricultural field has been restored to its original wetland state in the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, producing ecological, human, and economic benefits for the local community.The restoration project was completed at Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill through a partnership between park staff, the town of Chapel Hill, the Tennessee Environmental Council, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and local volunteers. This project has successfully reintroduced one of the most diverse ecosystem types back into the region, while improving local water quality.
  5. Tennessee City Builds Outdoor Classroom to Teach Sustainability

    FARRAGUT, Tenn. -- Farragut’s eco-friendly outdoor classroom provides the residents of the East Tennessee town of 22,000 with hands-on environmental learning opportunities.Visitors to the classroom can learn about stormwater management, water quality, composting, and environmental conservation, all while growing delicious fresh produce.
  6. Finding New Life for Superfund Sites

    The term “Superfund site” likely conjures images of a dead, gray landscape and dry, cracked earth, bisected by a creek bed oozing a mysterious slime.But, while it’s true that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program identifies some of the nation's most contaminated sites, it’s not necessarily the case that the sites languish unattended into perpetuity. In fact, once a site is actually declared a Superfund site, it becomes eligible for a variety of federally-funded clean-up efforts.
  7. In Kansas City, It’s All About People

    Yes, sustainability is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yes it’s about saving energy and managing stormwater. Yes, it’s about green building and transit-oriented development.But, for Dennis Murphey, chief environmental officer for the city of Kansas City, Mo., those are all just means to an end. For him, the end game is creating a city that works for ALL its people.
  8. Developing Health Oriented Neighborhoods

    Say you’re driving through a city you don’t know well – or maybe even your hometown - and you discover a new neighborhood.The shops and restaurants look interesting, the sidewalks are wide, people are out and about, and it looks inviting.
  9. Green Infrastructure Fuels Green Jobs

    Google “community college” and “horticulture” or “community college” and “landscape design” and programs from all over the country will pop up, boasting course offerings in urban farming, garden design, plant classification, and the like.Increasingly, many such programs also include offerings in green infrastructure strategies.
  10. Putting Schools in the Right Spots

    Going to school is a big part of every day for students and their families. Schools influence where families choose to live and how communities grow.Deciding where the school should be is a big decision that affects community safety and health.
  11. A Global Early Warning System for Infectious Diseases

    In the recent issue of EMBO reports, Barbara Han of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and John Drake of the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology call for the creation of a global early warning system for infectious diseases.Such a system would use computer models to tap into environmental, epidemiological and molecular data, gathering the intelligence needed to forecast where disease risk is high and what actions could prevent outbreaks or contain epidemics.
  12. Can More Cattle Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

    A new study co-authored by an Iowa State University researcher indicates that an increase in cattle production, and associated forage land, on Iowa’s agricultural landscape could lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions.The research, published recently in the peer-reviewed Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, found that cattle production yields a smaller percentage of greenhouse gas emissions than row-crop cultivation.
  13. Transforming Agricultural Waste into Fertilizer

    With more than 300 food related industries in Tennessee, waste management can be a considerable – and costly – challenge. Composting agricultural byproducts can be a cost-effective, sustainable solution that takes production waste out of landfills and puts it back into the soil.The Compost Company in Ashland City, Tenn., is turning organic waste products into a high-yield compost material for farmers, landscapers, and gardeners.
  14. Financial Crisis Looms in South Florida as Seas Rise

    While some still think climate change is a problem to be faced by future generations, financial institutions and insurance providers in southeastern Florida are already factoring it in to investment decisions.Predictions that melting ice caps will increase global sea level by 2 to 3 feet in the next 40 years have begun to alter the very definition of "beachfront property" in the region's coastal areas. As developers look inland for property on higher ground, there is concern that the poor, mostly immigrant, people in some neighborhoods will be forced out.
  15. Tree Pests Cost U.S. Communities $2 Billion Per Year

    MILLBROOK, N.Y. - Imported forest pests cause billions of dollars in damages each year, and U.S. property owners and municipalities foot most of the bill. Efforts to prevent new pests are not keeping pace with escalating trade and must be strengthened if we are to slow the loss of our nation’s trees.So reports a team of 16 scientists in a new paper recently published in the journal Ecological Applications.
  16. Cities Hold Key to Saving the Bees

    “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”Despite this dire warning, sometimes dubiously attributed to Albert Einstein, America’s natural and commercial bee populations continue to decline dramatically, decimated by pesticides, pathogens, parasites, harsh weather, disappearing pollinator habitats, and climate change — all of which seem to be contributing to the mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.
  17. Parks Without Borders

    C+. This is the grade assigned to the condition of our nation’s parks, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure.Every four years ASCE evaluates public parks as part of the nation’s vital public infrastructure (which earned a D+ overall). The report included this frank assessment about our parks:
  18. Majoring in Sustainability

    As an evolving job market demands variously skilled workers, higher education responds by developing academic programs to meet those emerging demands.  Fields like sustainability and clean energy are no exception.According to the U.S. Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency many colleges and universities around the country offer four-year and advanced degree programs in renewable energy fields. In addition, many community colleges offer two-year programs and certifications to give workers a basic set of skills they need to work in various clean energy trades.
  19. Group Builds Energy Smart Affordable Housing in Texas

    Fighting poverty in one of the poorest counties in the United States takes a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach. It’s more than affordable housing units. It’s more than creating jobs. It’s more than educational opportunities.It’s about drastic changes that impact future generations.
  20. The Legacy of the Rosenwald Schools

    In the early 1930s, one out of every three black children in the South attended a special type of school that few people remember today.The Rosenwald Schools, which at their height numbered 5,000, provided black schoolchildren with the opportunity for greatly improved education, helping to decrease the gap between the quality of education available to black students as compared to white students. In the past 60 years since the dissolution of the Rosenwald School program, the legacy of the schools has been forgotten by most.
  21. Pittsburgh Shakes Off the Rust

    How does a city go from being one of the most polluted places on earth to becoming a shining example of economic resilience and ecological recovery?Well, for the city of Pittsburgh, it’s been complicated. While the city’s past stands as a testament to the iniquity of unbridled industrial exploitation, the course it has set for the future is decidedly more sustainable.
  22. Inclusive Approaches Encourage Gentrification Talks

    Nonprofit organizations, community development corporations and city officials are working separately toward a unifying goal in Los Angeles:Giving a voice to the under-represented communities that typically don’t speak at planning and zoning meetings, but are directly impacted by policies and decisions aimed to revitalize their urban neighborhoods.
  23. Upgrading Wastewater Biogas to Clean Energy

    Wastewater management has come a long way since the time untreated sewage was simply discharged into rivers and canals.Today, modern municipal wastewater treatment plants trend towards using anaerobic digesters to stabilize and break down biosolids and typically flare biogas created during the process.
  24. What to Do with 325 Million Tennis Balls Per Year

    In the grand scheme of things, old used tennis balls don't get a lot of attention. There aren't billions of them bobbing like plastic bottles in vast ocean cesspools. They don't litter every empty lot in every U.S. city like single-use plastic bags. But, when they start to lose their bounce, inquiring minds begin to wonder:What the heck can we do with the 325 million tennis balls that go flat every year?
  25. Accommodating Pedestrians in Active Work Zones

    The city of Raleigh, N.C., has developed a 36-page guidebook to help developers and construction crews comply with regulations and best practices for accommodating pedestrians in work zones."With the increase in construction projects and overall population growth, especially in downtown Raleigh, it is imperative that work sites comply with local, state, and federal guidelines to allow for pedestrian mobility, especially older people and people with disabilities," the guidebook notes.
  26. How Philanthropy Funds Sustainability

    The world of funding and philanthropy is changing. So is the environment around us. Consequently, there is an opportunity to engage funders in conversations about smart growth and sustainability.So, how do we better understand philanthropic roles in smart growth? And, what opportunities (and challenges) are there at a national and local level?
  27. Henderson Becomes a Shining STAR

    The city of Henderson, Nev., has become the latest U.S. city to be formally certified in the STAR Community Rating System. The city's approved final score is 426.1, which qualifies Henderson as a Certified 4-STAR Community.The city is the 45th community nationwide to achieve certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that certifies sustainable communities.
  28. Taking the Fuel Out of Wild Fires

    Springtime is the right time for federal fire managers to conduct prescribed burns to reduce the threat of summer wildfires at Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland. The schedule for these burns depends on weather conditions, air quality, moisture tests of fire fuel and the staff to do the prep work for the prescribed burns.“A lot of people and a lot of analysis goes into one prescribed burn,” said Patrick Lair, public affairs officer with the U.S. Forest Service in Prineville, Ore.
  29. Portland Works for Social Equity

    Portland, Ore., bills itself as “The city that works,” and, in the early 21st Century, is a city that is working in spite of some tough challenges.A good example is the cutting-edge Diversity and Civic Leadership (DCL) program introduced in 2006 and operated by the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI). DCL’s goal is to support efforts to build the organizational and communication capacity of community organizations of color, immigrant/refugee organizations and other agencies underrepresented in government.
  30. Sustainability Education Made Easy

    Programming plans for the 9th annual Growing Sustainable Communities Conference are under way, and a variety of online training opportunities are available now to anyone interested in learning more about sustainability and networking with colleagues in the field.Organizers recently issued a Call for Presentations seeking presentation proposals for the conference, which will be held this year on Oct. 4 and 5 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa.
  31. How Ice Storms May Shape the Future of Forests

    A team of scientists in New Hampshire recently succeeded in capturing one of nature's most destructive forces - ice - and corralling it in two large research plots on the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.Scientists from the USDA Forest Service, Syracuse University, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Cornell University, University of Vermont, and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation created an experimental ice storm that will improve understanding of short- and long-term effects of ice on northern forests.
  32. 2015 Earth's Warmest Year by Widest Margin on Record

    The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.So reported the National Centers for Environmental Information at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in its annual report released this week.
  33. Repurposing Decommissioned Office Furniture & Equipment

    Some nine million tons of used or out-of-fashion office furniture and equipment are dumped into America’s landfills each year, according to the EPA.Yet, much of that “waste” can be diverted and repurposed, according to Green Standards, a Toronto-based company that specializes in the responsible and cost-effective redistribution of surplus and obsolete office furniture, fixtures, supplies and IT equipment.
  34. Miami-Dade County Shores Up for the Rising Tide

    Perhaps nowhere in America is the threat of sea level rise greater than in the state of Florida. With three quarters of its population and more than $2 trillion worth of property and infrastructure located along 1,200 miles of coastline,1 the stakes couldn’t be higher.And, while some regions of the country prepare for projected eventualities, in southeast Florida the consequences of climate change are already a reality: The water is literally lapping at the doorsteps of many homes and businesses during the highest periodic tides of the year.
  35. Success of Community Choice Aggregation Leads to Expansion

    In the last three years, successful implementation of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) in the San Francisco Bay Area has led to “tremendous growth and interest” throughout the state of California, an advocate of CCA told Sustainable City Network.“This is the progress we’ve been working on,” said Shawn Marshall, co-founder and executive director of LEAN (Local Energy Aggregation Network) Energy US.
  36. Reducing the Volume of Holiday Trash

    The holiday season is a busy time of year for solid waste and sustainability departments throughout the country. It’s generally accepted that the volume of household waste increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in the United States.In an effort to reduce their communities’ holiday waste, many cities are promoting reduction and recycling through seasonal programs, while others are working with their communication teams to encourage recycling, reducing and reusing this holiday season through existing sustainability programs.
  37. Greening the Great Smoky Mountains

    SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. – Sevierville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are greening the mountains of East Tennessee with a robust composting program, use of alternative fuel vehicles, and implementing sustainable development.This year about 10 million people from around the world will visit the Smoky Mountains and each year that number increases. As that number grows, Sevier County, the towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, as well as the park itself, are meeting the growing challenge of reducing, reusing, and recycling through innovative sustainable solutions.
  38. Renewable Energy Powers Community Resiliency

    Communities investing in renewable energy infrastructure and systems know that they’ll save money on energy costs, but in the event of a natural disaster or emergency, these systems can prove their value far beyond a reduced monthly utility bill.This was the focus of the Building Resilience through Local Renewable Energy session at the recent Growing Sustainable Communities Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.
  39. Infusing Equity into the Urban Planning Process

    If you want to include equity concerns in your long-range planning, your process might be as important as your results.That’s what the Rhode Island Office of Statewide Planning discovered when it incorporated equity goals into its two-year plan for the first time.

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