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How do I rectify my environmentalism with the fact that I live in New York City: the dirtiest, most densely packed, trash filled example of human excess we, as a species, have yet to create?  The city of which John Steinbeck said, “it’s climate is a scandal…” The city that regularly paves over old trash heaps so that more people can live in it’s proximity and then make new, more gigantic, trash heaps?

Good question.

I’m not sure I have an answer, at least not a straight forward one.

Especially considering that I’ve seen what newly emerging cities are doing with their infrastructure. Even new cities in historically conservative parts of the country. When I was visiting my parents outside of Charlotte I went into the Queen City, a city that has become emblematic of the New South, and this was the city’s Christmas tree:

Also, outside Charlotte, where my parents live, Lake Norman State Park managed to pull 4.3 million dollars for new facilities which, in a tight-pocketed conservative state, is a quite a feat.

But Charlotte and the Charlotte area is a rare case, so what of cities and outlying urban areas that are already established?

Older cities in the rust belt need to begin retooling and rebuilding if they want to stay competitive. As more and more restrictions are placed on factors such as air and water quality, the communities with more sustainable markets will survive and attract people.New York, for all it’s age, is a city constantly under construction. While this means that a lot of local heritage can be cast to the wayside in the name of new high rises and condominiums, it also means that each new building can be held to more environmentally conscious standards.

This is why I like being in New York.

New York City can be a model for what other cities in the area can accomplish in their reconstruction processes. While other cities admittedly lack the celebrity, and therefore money, of the Big Apple, the more green construction ethics get into the national zeitgeist (and there’s no better place for it to begin than here in New York) the more affordable they’ll become, making them viable options for smaller companies and municipalities willing to invest in them for the future of the their businesses and communities.

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