I see a resilient Greater Des Moines that has planned and prepared effectively for a future that may well contain limited or very costly fossil-fuels, frequent extreme weather events, and dramatic economic volatility. Locally owned businesses are strong and money spent in the area stays here, Strong local food production systems and policies are solidly in place and people are well-fed on mostly Iowa products. Food deserts and widespread childhood hunger are things of the past. Neighborhoods are well designed (or re-designed) for walking and biking and public transit is available and affordable to all. A strong community spirit has developed, people have gotten to know and to appreciate their neighbors, and are having more positive interaction with them. Employment-rates are high as residents have (re)learned many useful skills and crafts that are in local demand. There is a great appreciation and valuing of our connection with the earth–the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that grows our food, and the intricate and vast network of pollinators, animals, and plants that make a healthy life possible here for us human beings.
Thank you for your response Margaret! I agree wholeheartedly and would like to add that I believe resilience in the face of rising energy costs will include powering down many of our centralized power plants and building up the *distributed energy production* grid, that is, co-location of energy consumers with production. Wouldn’t it be incredible if we made the supply lines obsolete? (Imagine not having power poles and lines to maintain and have to look at.)
A large part to this equation would be a commitment from the city to intentionally craft code that facilitates property owners’ ability to install various hardware to generate their own power on site, and also facilitates the establishment of power co-ops (neighborhood scale). Another piece of the puzzle would be to pay folks the going rate for any extra power they contribute to the grid instead of the paltry fraction they receive now.
Right on target! I would love living in this visionary community!
I feel that sustainability is by definition an inclusive term, and sustainable development will be most successful the more it can include diverse groups of people, industries, topics and perspectives. Urban Ambassadors identifies 7 areas of sustainability that can be thought of separately, and together are synergistic and add to the durability of any community.
MONEY – Residents who are financially literate, responsible, and secure. We have survival needs that must be met so we can support oursselves, our families, and our communities – in that order. People with this characteristic in their personal lives can’t help but run businesses and governments that are financially responsible and solvent.
SERVICE – Giving money, volunteering and advocating in the community. Participating in neighborhood assocations, volunteering for local non-profits, and giving back to causes that we believe are great ways for residents and responsible businesses to make a difference and learn what is missing in our community.
FOOD – Residents who have access their own food production (gardens, fruit trees, etc.) are more food-secure and we can share excess with hungry children and families. Local produce is healthier, and local purchases strengthen the local economy by circulating money between neighbors.
WASTE – Residents who manages resources efficiently save money and protect future resources for our children. Reducing waste, re-using durable goods, and recycling/composting keeps valuable commodities available for productive use in our society.
COMMUTE – Residents who live near their place of work and have access to diverse modes of transportation save money, reducing traffic congestion and emissions.
HOME – Residents who have access to affordable housing that is safe and healthy have a sense of pride and commitment to their community. New green building technologies improve indoor air quality and prevent sick-building syndrome.
ENERGY – Residents who have energy efficient homes and access to renewable production of electricity (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) are more self-sufficient and their communities are less dependent on fossil fuels.
All of these, along with Des Moines’ already growing social / art / comedy / music scenes and respect for diverse groups of people and perspectives, is what makes up my vision for tomorrow.
Better schools, with less crime & drugs,
Less crime within all communities.
More Community Gardens with healthy soil, that drains.
I would like to see this survey, question asked at all Neighborhood Association meetings if it has not already.
I would also like to see the older portion, (esp bldgs) of downtown Des Moines maintained (not bulldozed)
I would like the Downtown area to be more inviting to families.
I would like to see more, accessible interaction between different economic, ethnic, age groups.
Des Moines to build a Cultural Center like Dubuque. http://www.mfcdbq.org/
More, better paved, less spoke popping bike lanes 🙂
And the empty grocery store bldg near the River Bend area torn down and something more useful to that community put in that space.
This is my vision for 40-50 years into the future, mainly as it pertains to transportation. I offer it as food for thought. The future will also contain the history of having gotten there, so I include some of it in my story…
Just as a collection of events (industrial revolution, internal combustion engine, oil reserves, crowded and dirty cities) coincided to create the automobile age and subsequent suburban explosion, it took a different collection of events to end the age of the car. The new collection of events was primarily: climate change, economic instability, rising population and the news that global oil supplies had begun the inevitable permanent decline.
Everyone had expected that cars would simply become more efficient, and that efficiency and new technologies would compensate for the upward trend of annual global VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled). It was an unrealistic expectation from the beginning, however, considering that the increase in car ownership alone was on a curve that vastly outpaced even the most science fiction-like increases in efficiency, and replacement technologies like battery powered electric cars soon faced shortages of critical materials. There simply wasn’t enough planet to supply and continue to replace so many cars.
Instead we collectively realized that automobiles were hugely resource intensive, in a limited resource world. The energy and materials required to build automobiles finally began to outpace labor as the main cost components, and prices began to escalate beyond the average consumer.
At the same time, governments began to see roadways as an opportunity to reduce costs. Widening roads stopped altogether, and many have begun to shrink to what was once inconceivable: a single bi-directional lane! Regularly spaced “bypass nodes”, along with computer controlled mass transit, allows the traffic to flow unimpeded.
These “new format” roadways are for mass transit only, which takes multiple forms but are all part of the same computer controlled “system”. Personal communication devices (formerly phones) transmit travel desires to the transit system, which uses a combination of live inputs and historical data analysis to predict and supply the public transit. The result is a multi-modal system that is so effective that only the most change-resistant people still want to bother with the expense and trouble of owning and maintaining a car. Virtually no one under 40 owns one.
Public transit systems of all kinds have again become the primary mode of medium and long distance travel, with walking and bicycling primary for shorter distances.
This all became possible when local governments prioritized certain roadways as vital mass transit corridors, favoring them with precious tax dollars, while de-prioritizing most others. The declining maintenance of many smaller residential streets, coupled with a dramatic drop in private automobile ownership, led to the decommissioning of many non-essential streets, allowing neighborhoods to reclaim valuable land, and cities to both add taxable property and avoid further maintenance costs.
A wide scale conversion of land formerly devoted to making automobile travel convenient is now underway. Blocks of neighborhoods routinely petition to have their streets reduced to little more than a bicycle/pedestrian path. Driveways and parking areas have been ripped out, with homeowners rejoicing at the “extra” land they suddenly get for free. With the increased awareness of the health and financial benefits of locally produced food, much of the reclaimed land immediately goes into gardens. As a result of all this conversion, storm water flood pulses have already been reduced by over 30%, saving taxpayers millions more.
Although there was initially great fear at first mention of the demise of the automobile, we now see that it was not only inevitable, but a very positive change. Car safety devices had evolved, but we never could get the number of fatalities to budge very far below 300,000 souls every year, with corresponding numbers of permanent injuries; in hindsight it was far too high a price for families and communities to pay.
People connect with their neighbors more now, and are healthier and happier. The landscape has changed. It’s shocking to see old photos and realize how much of our world was dominated by the automobile.
Well, that’s my story. Sound implausible? Too radical? Of course! But then, if you had told a citizen of 1890 that within 30 years the automobile would replace the horse almost entirely, they would have thought you were crazy….
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