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January 30, 2015

The Greenest Region Compact:
A Consensus Sustainability Plan for Municipalities
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 |Noon to 1 pm

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This online program will report on research to enable a strategic update of the Greenest Region Compact (GRC) by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. The GRC is a pledge to take action to improve the environment. The objective is to propose a framework for a new GRC that is modeled on existing municipal sustainability plans; incorporates successful programs, policies, and other indicators of environmental achievement by municipalities; and aligns with goals and strategies of regional, national and global significance.  The environmental achievements of 290 municipalities and more than 30 sustainability plans were analyzed to provide unique insights into the environmental priorities of the region.  Input into the design of the new GRC is welcome. Speaker Edith Makra is the Director of Environmental Initiatives for the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, where she focuses on environmental issues that can be addressed by local governments, yet have regional impact.  She also assist communities in taking steps towards sustainability by managing grants for energy efficiency and for urban forestry.

Commuting Options
Many people in the U.S. carpool, walk, and use public transit to get to work—but most are still hacking traffic in a car, alone. From a national perspective, there are counties all across the nation where people walk, bicycle, and use public transit to get to work. And carpooling is a popular option just about everywhere. But when you add driving alone to the options, the map looks very different. The majority of residents in almost every county in the nation drives alone to work.

50 Years of Protection by the Wilderness Act of 1964 

The Wilderness Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964. But to understand the genesis of the act, you have to go back another three decades, to the 1930s. During the Great Depression tens of thousands of Americans were put to work by the federal government in national parks and forests. They cleared trails, erected shelters, and laid down mile after mile of pavement. The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park was opened in 1933, Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in 1939. The new highways opened up the parks to millions more visitors. “A wilderness,” the statute observed in surprisingly lyrical terms, is “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The 1964 act set aside 54 such areas. “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt,” President Johnson said after signing the act, then “we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

Can we afford sledding hills?

Faced with the potential bill from sledding injuries, some cities have opted to close hills rather than risk large liability claims. No one tracks how many cities have banned or limited sledding, but the list grows every year. One of the latest is in Dubuque, Iowa, where the City Council is moving ahead with a plan to ban sledding in all but two of its 50 parks. "We have all kinds of parks that have hills on them," said Marie Ware, Dubuque's leisure services manager. "We can't manage the risk at all of those places." A study by Columbus, Ohio-based Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that between 1997 and 2007, more than 20,000 children each year were treated at emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries

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