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Posts Tagged ‘city’

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.

To paraphrase Genesis a bit more bluntly : It rained like cats and dogs.

I first heard about Greensburg, KS from two friends of mine who are moving there after graduation. With so many fellow students planning on working in Chicago, L.A., [insert big city here], I was wondering what could possibly draw someone to move to such a seemingly random town in Middle America. Little did I know what had happened.

A little over a year ago (4 May 07), an F5 tornado touched down and traveled for nearly 22 miles before vanishing back into the stormy sky. Eleven people died, and 95% of the city was destroyed. Sure, the mile-wide maelstrom wasn’t of the same magnitude as the Genesis flood, but Greensburg was ravaged.

Following the tornado, Greensburg’s city council passed a resolution stating that every new building would be built to LEED-platinum standards. Not only would this be a first for any American town, but as of now only a handful of LEED-platinum buildings exist around the world. Greensburg is a very important project in the world of sustainability.

Judaism holds tzedakah as a religious obligation, so if you are looking for an organization to get involved with (and you like sustainability as much as we do), then help Greensburg out! For more information on what can be done, check out Greensburg GreenTown, a non-profit organization that is providing resources, information, and support to residents of Greensburg following the catastrophic collapse of their town.

If Noah – at the age of 600 – could round up all those animals and survive God’s wrath for forty days and nights, then I have high hopes for Greensburg. My only question : Is tornado-proofing the buildings part of the LEED-platinum requirement? What’s to prevent another twister from wreaking havoc?

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Hopefully I’ll have a better idea when I’m there in – let’s see here – just about three weeks! After graduating college, I have one day to pack up my apartment and drive 4 hours back to Nashville, where I will be leaving the next morning for New York City. A bunch of college buddies are joining my brother and I on a Birthright Israel trip; since 2000, this organization has been sponsoring free, 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish adolescents.

My brother and I extended our trip home and plan to spend a few extra days visiting a friend on a kibbutz between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. When I started doing research on the area, I was interested to come across a TreeHugger article that discusses the sustainability of Tel Aviv as a city.

Back in 2006, David Pearlman of the Heschel Center addressed 50 American and Canadian citizens in a 10-day tour of the city that was sponsored by North American philanthropists eager to promote awareness for environmental issues in Israel. Yet while the article discusses environmental concerns (air pollution, for example), I was reminded yet again how ubiquitous the term sustainability can be. Sustainability, as I recently have come to understand, is a vague and often misunderstood term that spans a wide variety of disciplines and philosophies. In this case, the question is posed – What makes a city sustainable?

Did you know, for example, that – according to Pearlman in 2006 – Tel Aviv is the only city where a Starbucks opened and then closed? I wonder how important the coffee business is to Tel Aviv’s overall sustainability, but an interesting fact nonetheless. Also, I found it intriguing that although there are plenty of bicycle lanes, few bikers exists due to a lack of suitable road signs.

There are a number of considerations involved in assessing a city’s (or project’s or product’s, etc.) sustainability, aside from the oft-quoted environmental consequences. Throughout his tour, Pearlman makes sure to incorporate social issues with his environmental-based teachings in an effort to illustrate that sustainability is more than a one dimensional, environmental concept.

A well written article indeed. I look forward to getting a firsthand glimpse of Tel Aviv in the near future; I’ll post a follow-up upon my return.

(picture courtesy of Two Thumbs on flickr)

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