I think each of these is a worthy proposal, but I have some questions: For example, hey Houston, we want more people to recycle and all, but are we really doing the public a service by allowing them to be entirely oblivious to what should and shouldn't be recycled? I mean, maybe that's all well and good as long as they stay put in Houston, but what about when they leave the city? (Sorry, I just find it a bit depressing when we have to take away humans' ability to bother to know stuff simply because they can't handle the pressure.)
In any case, it's also worth pointing out that if you click through the 20 finalists, you'll see that most of the ideas revolve around harnessing city data and analytics for the sake of improving education (as in Boston), reducing infant fatalities (as in Cincinnati), and... uh... something about taking the pulse of everyone's mood in Santa Monica. What's evident from these proposals is not so much that these cities have great and clear ideas on how to use data (this skeptical but curious brow is tilted at you, Santa Monica!), but that more and more cities are eager to do something, anything with the data they're collecting.
For now, my dear Residents of Future Cities (yes, this is your home now... sorry we keep forgetting to tuck you in at night, so tired!), what are your thoughts on the above proposals? Are they worth $5 million -- and an additional $1 million for four runners-up -- or could you come up with some better ideas?
Even if your city isn't one of the 20 listed, this is worth caring about, as these are ideas that aren't supposed to just influence the cities in question, but the United States as a whole. Let's hope Bloomberg and friends choose wisely.
Re: Maine State Rep. Seeks Ban on Public Agencies Purchasing Bottled Water Ha, PeterJ, I didn't recognize that irony right away, but that's pretty funny. Overall, I love the idea of a ban. However, it does depend on the area, doesn't it? For example, in NYC, the tap water is totally drinkable (and delicious!), but in other areas that's not the case. What are they suggesting as the alternative to bottled water?
Maine State Rep. Seeks Ban on Public Agencies Purchasing Bottled Water As a little bit of a spinoff discussion here, I found it interesting that a state representative in Maine introduced a bill to bar state agencies from purchasing bottled water. I have added a link below. I do think the cost and waste in bottling water will be an issue - like plastic bags - that will continue to gain attention and raise environmental concern. This article highlights similar initiatives, including one in San Francisco, that I intend to review. I find it amusing that this is Maine - known for Poland Spring bottled water - until of course it was purchased by Nestle!
Re: Providence Talks! Thanks, Nicole. I do think there is a committment to this work, widening out to the state's Department of Ediucation, so I do hope that it's not entirely contingent on the Bloomberg funding alone. It certainly would be a big win, though, to share in the funding. I think a neat part of this, too, is the showcasing of these ideas and exposure of our cities to a national audience.
Re: Kudos to Houston PeterJ - I can't tell you how angry it makes me that the K-cup has become such a hugely popular product and is not recyclable! It's one of the main reasons that I didn't buy a Keurig machine, or anything like it, when moving to my new place. Actually I bought something that doesn't require filters at all -- one small change made in my effort to go green-er this month.
US Recycling Rate As part of commenting on this thread, I decided to look up the combined US recycling rate, which I found to be at about 30% across the US on average. Switzerland, in contrast, tops out at number one at 52%. I guess we still have some work to do!
Re: Kudos to Houston Nicole, one of my items to add to the packaging problem you describe is the K-cup! Here is something that contains a minimal amount of coffee - with substantial packaging that is not recyclable. I see them piled high in stores and think about the waste inherent in the product. There must be millions that never see a recycling bin!
Re: Kudos to Houston Your points are well taken. By coincidence Rhode Island has been very effective in implemented its curbside recycling program at a very early time, transitioning to one-bin recycling over the past year. The latest effort in several state communities is in proposing a ban on plastic bags in stores, something that I think will be embraced soon. my mother, who just turned 95, still uses the wax paper bags from cereal boxes to store things. She remembers a time of re-use - something the last generation violated in its pursuit of a throwaway world.
Providence Talks! As a Providence native, I'm proud that my city is represented as a finalist. Moreover, I think this communication, vocabulary-building initiative has great potential for our city's children. I think the power of reading and the spoken word is dramatic in its impact on learning - and the love of learning. I'm intterested to see how this proposal fares!
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