How do we reconcile the virtues of Smart Cities and renewable energy sources such as solar power juxtaposed with lead poisoning in our cities? Solar power is set to grow by 94% in 2016. In the first quarter solar accounted for 64% of new electric capacity additions enough to power 5.7 million homes. Yet at the other end of the spectrum we are seeing lead poisoning proliferate in low income communities of Cleveland, Chicago, and of course Flint.
Forecasters predict there will be over 1.7 Billion connected things in use in our cities by 2018. The Internet of Things (IoT) allows everything from LED street lighting to your refrigerator to communicate and share data. In a move to be more efficient and leverage data municipalities are aggressively planning how to be more connected. The issue is what happens when the humans that are supposed to be benefiting by this technological advancement are left out of the information loop, disengaged and disconnected?
What is the smart city movement and why is there such a push around the globe for “smart cities”? A smart city is one that has digital technology embedded across all city functions. This technology also utilizes the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.
Earth Day 2016 , a celebration started in 1970 to bring attention to environmental stewardship and issues. Today the United Nations has over 170 Countries on board to sign the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change. These negotiations took place last December in Paris at COP21. Yet today I have to ask do we have to consider an Exodus for the people of Flint?
In this episode of Building Collaborative Communities we discuss the city of Flint, Michigan and the #FlintWaterCrisis. What are options and solutions for the citizens, can we do more than send bottled water? Who is going to get paid to rebuild the infrastructure in flint? Will the Governor be using “no-bid” contracts? How long will it take to replace the pipes throughout the city? Djuan Coleon, CEO of PURE answers these questions and more in this episode of “Building Sustainable Communities”
The visceral reaction to the lead poisoning and the lack of clean water in Flint, Michigan is “How did this happen in America?” and “Who is going to be held responsible” and “We Need Clean Water Now”. I would suggest the question at the top of the list we should be asking is “Who is going to get paid?”. Let me explain why it is the more prescient question. We know now that the pipes that distribute the water throughout the city of Flint are contaminated with lead. Even if you attempt to put clean treated water through those pipes the result will be contaminated water on the other end that will flow out of the faucets of the citizens of Flint.
For over a year the state and local government in Michigan has allowed the drinking water in Flint, Michigan to be poisoned. In this same time period we have been drinking the Kool-Aid from elected politicians and leaders that everything was “ok”. Elected politicians entrusted with the well being of the community provided Flint’s citizens with polluted water from the Flint River to cut costs. As a result, the state Department of Environmental Quality had failed to call for corrosion control chemicals to be added to the water, resulting in lead entering the water from pipes. How does this happen in 2016? How does the government just stand by and twiddle their thumbs just as they did when New Orleans was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
As the world talks Climate Change, Green and Better Tomorrows all in the name of clean energy. The truth is Climate Change is more about money than morality. Nissan promotes the Nissan Leaf and other hybrid and electric cars in an effort to “save the planet” BUT what about the people who work in the Canton, Mississippi, U.S. factory? There have been numerous accounts of violations of international labor standards and human rights by Nissan in Mississippi. So how can you talk Green and Ride Dirty?
How does #BlackLivesMatter connect to our energy policy and Climate Change? We first must critically understand what is the impetus behind #BlackLivesMatter. “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” When we understand that black lives are “systematically and intentionally targeted for demise” in the context of Climate Change we have to understand that pollution, toxic and hazardous waste disposal in black communities has been “systematically and intentionally targeted for demise”.
“Let’s stop asking if HBCUs are needed, let’s focus on what HBCUs can do” – Representative Alma Adams made that statement at the 2015 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference. I recently had the honor of participating on a panel discussion at the White House HBCU Week 2015 “Trends in Federal Investments in STEM, Innovation and Entrepreneurship” and I kept thinking, why do we entertain the narrative that maybe historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are no longer needed today? HBCUs are responsible to contributing some of the best and brightest minds to society, without the opportunity of the HBCU the following graduates of HBCUs may not have been cultivated.