Most people associate Buffalo with long, cold winters, delicious chicken wings and a football team that’s never won the Super Bowl, yet. However, if you live here, you know that Buffalo is much more than that. It is a place of potential, and that potential was discussed last Friday at the Burchfield Penney Art Centre. Catherine Tumber, an acclaimed journalist and historian, spoke about her book Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promises of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low Carbon World. This book revolves around Tumber’s travels to 25 mid-sized cities and their impacts on green living and urban revitalization. She walked the audience through some of her direct observations and then continued to share how she felt cities, like Buffalo, are epicenters for innovation and sustainability models. The Grow Team sent a member, who gathered the following take away points.
Buy Local: We all have heard this before and know the importance of this. Tumber’s observations showed that rustbelt cities, like Buffalo, have great local urban markets. She mentioned that smaller cities are surrounded by more fertile soil, which make them good for growing produce to sustain the local population.
Utilize Brownfields: Why move to greener pastures when there are perfectly adequate ones in your local neighborhood? A brownfield may not be as pretty or modern as a green one, but it is better for the local economy and it is more environmentally friendly. Old warehouses and office buildings must be taken advantage of in order for urban revitalization to be apossibility. Rundown buildings actually increase crime, decrease property value and just become wasted space making businesses and individuals leave and begin building on a fresh lot of land. So in this case, don’t go green, go brown; it preserves architecture and city culture along with the environment. You have to remember that there are many variables surrounding ‘brown fields’ and their revitalization. Learn more about brownfields in Buffalo here.
Controlling Sprawl: This topic produced an interesting statistic; in 2000, the Buffalo-Niagara region had the same population as it did in 1950, but the living area of this population was three times the size it was in the 1950s. That means a carbon footprint that is three times bigger than in the 1950s. This is an example of sprawl, which is okay in moderation. Tumber reminded us that “it’s all about proportion and scale,” and so we have to remember the size of the city when reviewing statistics like this. The main take away from this subject however, is that urban density decreases the size of a city’s carbon footprint; so containing sprawl by limiting certain government subsidies is vital.
For more information about Catherine Tumber and her newest book, visit her website.