Contributing Authors:  Robb Lukes (City of Vancouver, BC), Brandy Siedlaczek (City of Southfield, MI), Andy Szatko (City of Omaha, NE), Alfred Walfall (Philadelphia Water Dept.), and Nathan Williams (City of Grand Rapids, MI)

POSTCARD #1

Dear friends:

No one can say we were not an active delegation. We led tours, participated in the activities of many other delegations, attended sessions, went on tours, offered commitments to action, ate together, drank together, and explored the Sonoran Desert, which surrounds the hotel. (At least one of us even found time to play a round of free golf, a perk of staying at the resort). Now it is time to go swimming, before we have to go back home to winter! More later.

XOXO!

 

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POSTCARD #2

Dear friend:

Through participating in the Kresge CREWS, Spring Point Delta, and other sessions, we learned a lot about equitable approaches to advancing GSI. If we want the sector to start to look more like the communities it serves, we need to remove barriers, like, e.g., requiring a driver’s license, that keep people out of entry-level jobs. Providing public transit passes, van rides, and assistance with applying for a driver’s license to trainees are helpful accommodations. You’ve probably heard about hydroponics but what about “indigeponics” (how the tomato on the front was grown)? The term, coined by a member of the Navajo nation, describes growing plants that are indigenous to the community and important to its culture. Finally, we all know how challenging it can be to center community and do effective outreach. A speaker from Jackson, MS noted that community’s continuing struggle in this area. Another speaker from New York suggested that one solution is partnering with artists who are often better at reaching community members when conventional solutions fail.

Off to the evening Tequila toast at Salud!

XOXO!

 

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POSTCARD #3

Dear friend:

Most of our delegation is from places like Vancouver, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Omaha, Southfield, & Grand Rapids, where GSI is typically a solution for too much water. Not so here. In 2019, a 13 cents/cubic ft drinking water fee was added to the water bill for Tucson. The funding provides $3M/yr for capital & maintenance for the Storm to Shade Program. As a result, the Dunbar-Springs Neighborhood, shown on the front, now has a lot of GSI to curb its urban heat island challenges. The City is also discharging its water re-use effluent into the once dried up Santa Cruz River. Some sections of the river are experiencing regrowth of native plant and tree species and aquatic life.  You really have to see it to believe it! Very cool – well, it’s actually still pretty warm for November, in my book!

Off for a hike to see the Saguaros!

XOXO!

 

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POSTCARD #4

Dear friend:

You may know that the Exchange is engaged in a partnership with the City Parks Alliance & the U.S. Water Alliance to get more GSI into parks. Exchange member Raleigh, NC, noted in its presentation, that GSI and parks go together like “peanut butter and jelly.” There are lots of challenges, including getting municipal leaders on board, which requires communicating the financial benefits of GSI over other measures and recruiting the community in both fundraising and volunteering to make the resulting places a focus of community pride.  In addition, maintenance cannot be an afterthought, something mentioned by Exchange member, City of Tucson, AZ, in its presentation. Maintenance staff should be involved in design and a database of life cycle maintenance costs should be developed, along with maintenance standards appropriate to local conditions – Tucson got a grant to fund the University of Arizona to develop its standards.

Off to bed. This time change is rough!

XOXO!

 

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POSTCARD #5

Dear friend:

It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot fun to come together as a delegation. As you can see from the photo, we picked up a few old friends along the way. We’re a little tired, which triggers some thoughts on what we learned about GSI and health. Someone from Tucson was asked about how the City addresses public complaints around the idea that planting trees to address the unrelenting heat may attract the unhoused. The panelist (an Exchange member – YEA!) did not hesitate to say, unequivocally, that everyone deserves shade and that is what drives City policy. Another presenter noted that an investment in green stormwater infrastructure is an investment in public health, a connection that can be seen in the support of the GSI in parks initiative by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Thank you RWJF, Kresge Foundation, and Spring Point Partners for your support of our  work and our attendance at the Summit – we could not do this without you!

Now for the jet lag!

XOXO!

CONTACT

P.O. Box 6783

Towson, MD 21285

410-657-2657

barbara@giexchange.org

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