As I write this, I am staring out my window at the notorious brown cloud hovering over the sprawling Phoenix metropolis, like a monster out of the Lorax’s nightmares. What should be a serene vista is instead a scope of Phoenix’s lag in the green movement.
Phoenix is among the nation’s largest cities, both in size and population, yet for all its quantity, it has very little quality to give when it comes to the environment.
When the Valley Metro Light Rail was built five years ago, it seemed like Phoenix was beginning to create a sustainable city, but since then, large-scale green projects have been reduced to independent projects by contractors and developers with little contribution from state and national governments.
In an interview with KJZZ, Tazmine Loomans, an architect who focuses on sustainable construction and urbanism and author of the blog Blooming Rock, explained why she left her projects in Phoenix to go to Portland, Ore.
Her efforts of advocating sustainability here, it seems, were met with a sort of cultural lethargy.
She told KJZZ that, after a visit to Portland, she wondered why she was using all her talents and efforts to advocate basic bike, pedestrian and transit infrastructure in a culture that seemingly held little value for such things. The foundation for everything she was working for in Phoenix was already strongly built in Portland, so away she went, to a place where her efforts would not be vain.
And so Phoenix lost another leader in its environmental movement. Such seems to be the pattern.
Phoenix’s culture is lackluster. We’re a people concerned with immigration and cheap houses, not with environmentally friendly development, and this is problematic. I can see the brown cloud getting larger.
Already behind in developing sustainable transportation and energy when compared with other U.S. cities, Phoenix needs help, but from where will it come?
One problem is that Phoenix’s green communities haven’t rallied or garnered as much support as other efforts around the world.
Over the weekend, international protests involving 26 countries and more than 250 unique demonstrations against hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, showed a global community working toward stalwart environmental protection.
Fracking is the process of pumping high pressure water and chemicals into the ground to extract shale gas. The process has been deemed by many environmentalists to be damaging and dangerous, as it can potentially contaminate water sources, as well as cause other environmental damage.
The protests were successful enough to postpone fracking efforts in Romania, where the U.S. oil company Chevron Corp. was set to begin drilling.
Examples like this indicate that it is not with government action that environmental protection begins, but instead it is within communities.
Green communities exist in Phoenix for those wanting to create a more sustainable culture.
They just need your attention.
Reach the columnist at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @kwrenick