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Green Wausau: The Rosenberg Opportunity

by on September 24th, 2008

The City of Wausau is a small town. Like a small car, the City of Wausau can be a nimble thing, darting through changes, looking forward, wind in its hair.  But like a badly maintained small car, the city of Wausau can be an underpowered, unresponsive car without any room for friends or family or even the dog. I think that this is a challenging time, a time with opportunity, and a time where we have the resources to make our City the best small car we can make it.

As the Fourth of July just passed, I am left with the reality that we built this country not with committees or procedures, but literally with shovels and hoes, and our hands got dirty. We came here (and yes, we stole the country from its previous tenants) and created government out of an idea, out of an abstraction. Blood in the streets, brothers killing brothers, and law was the beginning.

Today we have a much different world. Some might say a more stagnant world, one that sits on its laurels and rests in hopes of resting at a later time — a slower, less dynamic, less responsive, less brave world. A world often led by its fear.

We in Wausau have a chance to change some of that. We have a chance, we have the resources, and we have the wherewithal to do it.

Jim Rosenberg is a member of our City Council and a member of the County Board. He has been there since before the Civil War, I think, and was a founding father of this city. Just kidding, but he has, in fact, been a civic leader for a long time. In case anyone was wondering, Jim works at WPS. The electric company. A big electric company. Jim is a leader both in the city and in the big electric company.

Let us think about that for a second shall we? A man in a leadership position in the City is also sitting in a position to know all the players in the energy business. When I wanted to explore solar power, Jim was a tremendous asset, telling me who was reputable and who was not.

How can this apply to our city? HOW DOES IT NOT? Mr. Rosenberg has access and contact with people who are experts in both electricity and alternative energy, just through his daily reading for his job. How can these people help us in Wausau? How can they not?

We have a Commission for a Greener Tomorrow. I have read every agenda and every set of minutes they have put forth. We have a mayor who has a chance to lead us into a sustainable working model for our city. And we have Rosenberg.

We have a chance to exploit the professional knowledge and contacts of this Rosenberg character to the fullest extent. If the City of Wausau is really serious about making a commitment to being green or sustainable, it has someone on its council who can and should be called upon to lead the way.

Sadly though, like a sluggish small car, we are underpowered and under committed. A statement from our Mayor at the beginning, a unanimous vote to name an ad hoc committee. That is it, and it is sad.

New York City has an entire department devoted to Sustainability. New York is like a Sherman Tank compared to a small car. A small car can move faster, change direction quicker, and I hope we do. A green Wausau could contain solar and wind power, more community gardens, hybrid fleet vehicles, and greener building standards. In part two of this series, I’ll describe many specific, tangible ideas that we can invest in and implement.

We live in a challenging time, a time of vast change and significant social upheaval. Small towns, medium cities, all have a chance to lead. To be innovative, to be responsive, to be the best small car we can be.

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