I am getting an award from the “Down State” Young Dems/Speaking Mon PM. http://tiny.cc/g3mts Funny review from Village Voice: http://tiny.cc/66bvg Fellow Honorees: John Liu, NYC Comptroller; Matt Titone, Staten Is. #LGBT Assemblyman. Venue: http://tammanyhallny.com/ #LES
I am very pleased that A) these are “young” Democrats and hopefully not set in their “liberal” ways; and B) that John Liu, NYC Comptroller will be there. That’s because I have a confession to make regarding government policies and money:
I have something in common with the Tea Party… I want to see a smaller government too! I want to get us there via the areas that I know best: creating accessible jobs for our most expensive citizens.
When people talk about “sustainability”, they often mean hemp fiber clothes, recycling, don’t take long showers, mass transit, renewable energy, etc — all very good stuff. I believe that the social fabric is improved by many of those things, but that we really need to look at that social-fabric aspect of sustainability more closely.
Our blue collar economy is not going to grow substantially any time soon. Manufacturing is done elsewhere; many things were once repaired, are now simply replaced; and many of the small business that grew up around supporting those industries and the employees are suffering or gone.
At the same time, US cities are engaging in climate-adaptation measures specifically regarding Storm Water Management and Urban Heat Island Effect. Currently, our solutions to these issues have been fossil fuel based – pump and treat the water, and air-condition like mad to keep things cool.
However, the most cost-effective way to tackle these growing, climate-driven challenges is through Green Infrastructure. That term encompasses everything I have been advocating for, implementing, and attaching jobs to throughout my career: street trees, green roofs, planted water permeable surfaces of all kinds everywhere within our built environment.
Many of the available jobs in these areas are accessible to the generations of Americans who have been let down by our education system (50% +/- don’t graduate High School). Many of those people have either been in jail, to war, grown up in poverty, or some combination of 2 or 3 of these attributes.
There is great evidence demonstrating that horticultural work is a highly cost-effective therapy for people living in “social-isolation” as a result of traumatic experiences like prison, war, or poverty.
But currently, our socuial support systems are most likely to imprison ($), medicate ($), and/or incur welfare and hosing costs ($) for these folks. Their families are less productive and less healthy across the board ($), their children do poorly in school ($), and among veterans, the suicide rate back here at home is roughly 4 times higher than the number of soldiers killed in action. That’s what makes these fellow citizens some of our most expensive.
The great news is that they can turn around to be a productive part of the tax-base, and not tax burdens – while playing a crucial role in adapting our cities to climate change at the same time – if we do it right.
I am going to make this point as best i can in front of the audience Monday night – unless it’s one of those loud reception things where nobody pays attention to the speakers. Then i will refer them here.
I hope more and more people will link environmental sustainability with repairing the social fabric of our communities through jobs in green infrastructure. Thanks so much for reading here!