I’ve made some claims related to the environmental superiority of the city to the suburbs and the exurbs and this week I discovered some maps which demonstrate that those claims are supported by the data. The map shows that I live in the second most “green”, the second most efficient zip code in my region. The only section more efficient begins one block over, and is the very center of the downtown.
Other stories have more than piqued my interest this week as well, especially the ones about the on-going drought in both California and the Colorado River Basin. I happen to have taken affirmative steps to support local agriculture in an aggressive way and that, along with my own little backyard garden and incipient orchard, has made me much more keenly aware of the abundance of water in my region. I have one water barrel (and plan to install another) connected to the gutters of my house and that, combined with rainfall allowed me to grow an abundance of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, strawberries, squash, lettuce (my god the lettuce), cucumbers, and more and I only hooked up the hose to the house twice. That water, from the Springfield municipal system, comes from the Cobble Mountain Reservoir which as the name implies sits over a thousand feet above the valley floor. It holds 75 million gallons of water. It sits in an area that gets more rainfall per year than Seattle or Portland (and yet still sees more sun…it’s just that when it rains…it rains) and a region which simply isn’t prone to long term droughts.
Reading about the horrible conditions impacting such an enormous area and so many people in the American West I can’t help but feel my criticism of place rating rubrics which punish cities for precipitation was right on the mark. Let me be the Gordon Gekko of Water Street and state unabashedly: “The point is ladies and gentlemen that rain, for lack of a better word, is good. .” And rain in a place with traditionally designed neighborhoods where people can go about the activities of daily life without a car, and where horizontal sprawl hasn’t consumed farm land pretty much equals a place where a people can live a civilized life with a small carbon footprint.