GreenTown USAby Daniel Wallach, foreword contributor of Green Town U.S.A.: The Handbook for America’s Sustainable Future (Hatherleigh Press, July 2013) and Executive Director and Founder of Greensburg GreenTown

You may have heard of Greensburg, Kansas, the little town only 1.5 miles wide that was 95% destroyed by a tornado in 2007.   What you may not know is that Greensburg chose to transform tragedy into opportunity by deciding to rebuild “green.” Since we made this decision, we have received quite a bit of exciting recognition. President Barack Obama mentioned it in his address to a joint session of Congress on February 24, 2009 and Leonardo DiCaprio, working with the Discovery Channel, produced a documentary. We were also featured on the Weather Channel during a segment entitled “When Weather Changed History.”

But the story of Greensburg, Kansas does not begin and end there. In fact, our decision to rebuild green is, in a way, the prelude to a new chapter for every town and city in our country, especially in light of the recent and ongoing disaster in the Gulf. Individuals across America can look to Greensburg, a.k.a. “GreenTown”, as an example of how we can change the course of history and change the way we live with the environment in mind, and how young people can be instrumental in this change.

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Taking on Waterby Wendy Pabich, author of Taking on Water: How One Water Expert Challenged Her Inner Hypocrite, Reduced Her Water Footprint (Without Sacrificing a Toasty Shower), and Found Nirvana (Sasquatch Books)

Water is getting scarce. This year has brought extreme drought, low snow packs, and record low stream flows in a number of river systems. We see Las Vegas waging water war with the open ranch lands to the north, Atlanta in protracted battles with downstream states over its primary water supply at Lake Lanier, and water tables beneath the San Joaquin Valley—the source of 40 percent of the nation’s fruits and vegetables—dropping. A recent study by the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) suggests that by mid-century, half the counties in the U.S. will be facing water scarcity. (more…)

Plenty

Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

by Alisa Smith, co-author with J.B. MacKinnon of Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet (First 10 people to post a comment will receive a FREE copy of the book. Simply post a comment and then email us with your full school mailing address).

Who would have thought that a totally local concept could travel around the world? James and I wouldn’t have believed it when we began our local-eating experiment in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2005. It was a private, personal thing. We deprived ourselves of rice, olive oil, sugar, and all packaged foods for a whole year because of what people are now calling our  “carbon footprint.” We had just learned that even a simple turnip or apple travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. An entire supermarket-sourced meal could have enough air miles to span the globe. Already, we were worried about the amount of fossil fuels consumed by our modern lifestyles, so we figured our daily bread was the perfect place to start cutting back. After all, couldn’t you grow lettuce in your own backyard? (more…)