Citizen Wausau

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Green Wausau: Overflowing With Ideas

by on September 29th, 2008

Ideas for a Green Wausau, for a sustainable future, sometimes seem far-fetched or too costly, but I assert that this doesn’t have to be true. By taking some first steps to sustainability, we can achieve a more environmentally healthy city and hopefully, less of a dependence on foreign oil. With a media focus on T. Boone Pickens’ plan, we can take this moment to talk about the first steps that Wausau can take, should take, since we are a community packed full of conscientious, brilliant people with determination and grit.

What should we do?  What should happen?  I am not a political science major, but how about a non-binding statement from our Mayor with a set of goals that define where we want to go?  Instead of letting the Commission for a Greener Tomorrow work it all out in a never-ending set of committee meetings (one of which happens at Greenwood Hills by the way…sort of ironic given the amount of pesticides and fertilizers used by golf courses), let our City Council lead the way.

Why not create a paperless workplace?  This is not a new idea.  Bill Gates even has a model for this and how it can be translated to a city in one of his books.  I am sure that some paper is needed, but I have seen interoffice envelopes flying around City Hall, when those can all be replaced by emails.

Why not make the fleet vehicles used by the city hybrids?  The major car companies ALL have a hybrid pickup truck that is similar in power.  For inspectors and the like, why not by Smart Cars, or sub compacts?  Why not do this for all non-chase cars used by the police or fire department?  Why not make the parking ticket guy ride around in a hybrid instead of a Saturn?

Why not make all the paper used by the city recycled?  Sure, the initial cost might be higher, but why not?

Why not work with area farmers on ways to use organic or greener fertilizer and pesticides in city parks?

Why not make city buildings solar?  I know WPS wants our money.  I am willing to concede that, but it has been my experience that they also want to be a good community partner, and they would be a resource to help the city.  And some dude named Rosenberg, who works there, is also an elected official.

Why not have plans for sustainability in our town?  Why not demand greener building standards?  I suppose the argument can be made that we should not have more government policy, but my answer to that is why not.

We have a chance to look at the large buildings in our town, often built with incentives from our city government, and say that we want you here as our partner, as our friend.  But friendship requires a give and take.  We are willing to give you these breaks to build your building, but we want to know that you as our friend, are willing to do your due diligence and make your building a part of our community in a more environmentally friendly way.

Why not, Mr. Mayor, ask Mr. Dudley, a man who made a bit of money in energy, to put up solar panels on his new tower?  Why not ask the man who owns the Landmark to put up solar panels?  Why not ask the people who own the big bank downtown to put up solar panels?  Why not find a field out in the country and work with the county to put up a windmill or two?
Why not take some of the money from something else and build bike racks?  Why not do the bike-rack-at-city-hall thing?

Mr. Mayor, you should ask this Rosenberg fellow, and others like him, to help you take a stand.  Why not ask these people to educate you so that your legacy is not the horrible Jasurda crap and its resignations, but rather a legacy as the Mayor who led us to a more sustainable future?

And you, Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer…why not do the things that you know are important and simple?  Why not recycle?  Why not buy local?  Why not sell that SUV and get a car that actually makes sense?  If you have ten kids, and four play hockey, then sure a Suburban makes sense, but not as the car that drives you to work, not as the car that goes to the grocery store.
We live in challenging times.  We live in a time where we get to decide the future of our world, the kind of place our grandchildren will grow up in.  All the questions can be answered in the negative and the skeptical.  Sure, I concede all of that, but we can also go the other way.  We can take it on faith that something will work, that some step will be the right way, and only by taking one step will we get somewhere – anywhere.

We have a chance to be a leader.  We have a chance to be the pebble in the pond.  We can start our initiative with ACTION, not DISCUSSION.  Maybe then Athens will get involved, or Rosholt, or Hewitt, or Thorp.  Maybe then it will spread north and south, and we will meet up with people who know things from other cities, and you will network with them in a cool Web way.  Then we will learn from mistakes, and from mistakes will come progress.  With progress will come momentum.  With momentum will come success, and with success, Wausau will be cleaner for generations to come.

So I say to you…why not utilize Rosenberg, and those like him that we have right here?  Why not lead us, you elected leaders, our Princes and Princesses of Central Wisconsin?

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