Citizen Wausau

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Green is for Commies!

by on October 23rd, 2007

Far be it from me to assert that taking care of the environment is for communists, BUT… I should point out that Rudy “I am not really a Republican, but vote for me anyway” Giuliani was mayor during the creation of the Office of Sustainable Design in New York City. Ahh, that’s just me being funny; sorry Rudy.

Anyway, tonight the Samuels Group and Wisconsin Public Service are presenting to the Common Council a plan called Sustainable Wausau. I am truly excited to see something like this come about. I have giant reservations about the folks involved – for example nowhere on the Samuels Group’s website was I able to find even a slight mention of green building practices, and Wisconsin Public Service is a giant corporation and the pseudo-green verbiage on its website is really just the basics.

My criticism of these two leaders – or definers – in this area are not so much of what they do, but rather of what they have a chance to do. Both are leaders in their fields, and have a bully pulpit to define the terms with which our area moves forward. They could, if they chose to, decide to step forward and become a more vocal supporter of these environmental initiatives that surround us daily. It is with that hope that I will be going to the meeting tonight, to see and hear firsthand whether these two companies step up to the microphone and hopefully address the issues.

For the past few years I have read about the paperless office, productivity tools, and the like. It started oddly enough with Bill Gates’ Book, Business @ The Speed of Thought. In it Gates discusses how the goal for his company is to be a paper-free workplace. Not that it’s possible to completely eliminate paper, but at least there wouldn’t be anymore of those interoffice envelopes with the little strings on them. Microsoft has an internal agenda to follow processes and systemic uses of resources like paper, and to evaluate them for environmental concerns first. It is hardly a unique or groundbreaking idea, but to see it come from an organization as large and as corporate as MS is an interesting thing.

When I worked at NTC, I saw first hand how the Personal Computer can be used as a true tool of work place connectivity. Chet Strebe and his staff had implemented Lotus Notes and the college culture had been educated enough to see the value of working within that software environment to communicate and schedule. It was an amazing shock to me to see several hundred people using a simple tool and using it with consistency.

I blather on, but at the end of this… I think small cities like Wausau are the ideal place to become green. We have smaller developments, smaller city departments, small small small. It is an easy place to communicate ideas from small departments to other small departments. These small towns can become beacons of hope for the future.

Can you imagine how much paper we could recycle? I mean sure there is a program at City Hall, but how active is it? Why not make it something that people buy into?

What about solar energy? Why not make City Hall solar-powered? Or at least try?

I think that is what this terrible blog post is about. I hope our city tries. Why not try? Why not have the legacy of this city council be the city council that embraced Sustainability? Why not, along with the giant tower, the Pala… (oh I have no idea what it is called), the parking ramps, Wausau Benefits, and all the rest of the great things… why not make Jim Tipple the “green” mayor?

Yeah,this costs money. Yeah, we’re spending 8 million on pools, and who knows what on all the other stuff. But Marathon County is a farming county. Farms need environmental practices to ensure long lives. We have seen that giant corporations like Monsanto are devils and are killing the planet… why not take a stand? Say in public and out loud, “It’s time for you citizens of Wausau to be leaders. We don’t need a new pool, we need to spend that money on solar power for city buildings which will save us money in the long run!”

For example, ask that all new developments of commercial property have to have a wastewater/grey water recycling plan. Make contractors do a public environmental impact study for all new buildings. Ask the deep checkbooks in this city to help out. Put solar panels on top of the Grand?

Why not have a plan? Why not charge Mike Morrissey with this very task? Mike…why not see that urban planning is now important? It’s not just about acquiring property for McDevco; now we need to put the needs of our area first!

We have a chance to embrace a life change, right now. We can demand green space, alternative energy, conservation education, hybrid vehicles, computer recycling (what does the city do with all the old PC’s?), aggressive handling of landfills and garbage, aggressive protection of our waterways, and paper-free workplaces in Government offices.

It’s 2007; is it not time yet for our City and County leadership to do just that? To adopt something, to show something other than voting block bickering? What about the common good?

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