This Saturday I’m speaking at Northwestern University, my alma mater, on “What’s a Green Job Anyway?” As groups gear up for Earth Day including a green transportation summit in Chicago on April 22 – Congress is preparing a making a run at the long-awaited energy and climate bill. As part of MPC’s partnership with Transportation for America, we’re encouraging Congress to use that bill to support more green transportation infrastructure.
The whole blogosphere is thinking green, which inspired the focus of my second “Midweek Links”. This post from Mark Muro of Brookings on The New Republic’s blog “The Avenue” focuses the pending reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, a key opportunity to drive technological advancement and job creation. Congress could spur "institutional innovation in the U.S. innovation system," according to a recent policy proposal for the National Innovation Foundation, from our friends at Brookings. The brief explains the need for federal resources to leverage other dollars to spur collaboration between public, private and institutional partners, an idea MPC can definitely get behind.
In other news about collaboration, an AP story this week focused on how communities across the region are dealing with vacant properties, a fallout of the foreclosure crisis. (In 2009 alone, some 40,000 foreclosures occurred in metropolitan Chicago.) The article featured our colleagues at the South Suburban Housing Collaborative, but it failed to mention a new toolkit for municipal officials with nine key strategies for tackling their vacant building concerns. The toolkit, launched in March by Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, highlights strategies such as creating an early warning database, collaborating across departments to ensure consistent enforcement, recovering the costs of property maintenance, and managing receivership and demolition. Once a community determines which strategies best meet its needs, officials can use the toolkit to identify model ordinances and reach out to municipal officials who have already implemented these strategies.
The gorgeous weather this week reminds me that Bike to Work Week – the free weeklong event that challenges companies to get the most employees to commute by bike – is coming June 12 to 18! Teams can register on Active Transportation Alliance’s web site. I’m proud to say MPC is registering again this year, which means it’s time for this fair-weather biker to don my bike helmet. I encourage you to form your own team so we can all do our part to help Chicago live up to its recent designation as one of the Top 10 biking cities.