SEE UPDATES BELOW:
PEORIA -- Here's a little-advertised event that might prove promising, at least as a way to put local people on the griddle.
A conference on building a healthy, sustainable community takes place from 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1 at the Peoria Civic Center new ballroom.
Participants include Peter Senge of MIT and author of The 5th Discipline who will speak on "systems thinking" on the interrelatedness of the planet, communities, and individuals, and Marc Gunther, a Senior Writer at Fortune Magazine and author, who will moderate the Panel Discussion.
Both are experts on sustainable development (development which meets the needs of the present without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs).
Panelists will include, among others, a national director of the World Wildlife Fund, a Caterpillar, Inc. Vice-President and several local business and civic leaders.
The event costs $10 to $20 at the door. You can order advance tickets here.
UPDATE, MAY 2: Journal Star reporter Steve Tarter wrote an account of this conference but it's not on the JS website. According to his story, the conference, which attracted about 400 people, provided few local answers for sustainable living.
City councilman Bob Manning said inner city neighborhoods need investment.
Developer Alexis Khazzam said education needs to be improved.
A panel member from the World Wildlife Fund suggested buying locally-owned meat and produce.
Caterpillar's Steve Fisher said his company is recycling and remanufacturing old equipment, and promoted reduced emissions.
Apparently no one mentioned these key issues:
1. Peoria's pathetic recycling policies, which guarantee increased landfill expenses for the foreseeable future and waste materials that could be recycled.
2. Peoria's mania to widen and expand its roads to encourage even more auto traffic and commuting.
3. Peoria's lack of a free inner city bus system to cut down on auto use and provide a way for the poor to get around town quickly without having to own a car. Macomb and other towns do this now.
4. Peoria's lackluster record on developing hike and bike trails, such as the Kellar trail. Advocates claim the city could have been more aggressive.
5. Peoria's silence on expansion of the PDC hazardous waste landfill, on its edge. The best argument against the landfill expansion is sustainability: if companies cannot cheaply dispose of hazardous waste, they'll find other products to use in manufacturing.
The venue for this conference, an expanded Civic Center, is also not on the sustainable agenda, and an argument could be made that the expensive expansion was unnecessary.
A conference of 400 people could have met elsewhere, in a rehabiliated historic building, for example.
And so it goes...
5/5/07. A conference attendee comments:
Senge's "system thinking" efforts help to highlight the indirect and the unanticipated effects of actions. Thus he reminded the crowd of worries 50 years ago, about how we would feed the "population explosion."
He then showed the prices of agricultural commodities for the second half of the 20th century, and how instead of rising, prices (uncorrected for inflation) declined,as supply grew, and lots more supply than demand.
But he also quoted Indian economists looking at the price decline, who said "rural suicide." Unanticipated consequence of the greater efficiency, productivity, where one farmer can do the work of 10: If 5 keep working, then production goes up, but so do number of unemployed farmers (whose land is acquired by more productive farmers) and unanticipated despair results. Rural refugees in shantytowns surround most big cities in third world.
The extra productivity goes round the world, so already 20 years ago it was true that average US food traveled 1500 miles from grower to customer. Looking at system, food travels more, that burns more gas, so more carbon dioxide.
Looking at systems is how science found impacts of CO2 on global warming, and thus Cat asked for govenment regulation of CO2.
Keep looking at systems: Today's WSJ front page, carbon dioxide/global warming help explain rise in asthma rates (particularly children) over last 20 years, as enhanced urban CO2 supports ragweed growth, etc.
Looking at systems- moderator asked about farmers market- That would cut distance of high quality food to market, less CO2. The better quality of a strawberry that does not half to be picked early to ship cross-coutnry allows a higher price to farmer, and less transport cost to farmer, so that is more profitable, supports local ag employment.
Think systems. -30-
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