Eight Reasons Local Government Should Care About Sustainability

Debbie hiking at Rocky Fork

While we may not always agree on the causes of environmental issues, I am confident we can identify common goals:

  1. Protection of citizen health – clean water and air are critical for all our residents.

  2. Safe and effective removal of waste with an eye toward reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle.

  3. Ongoing education for citizens regarding the cost of inaction and the benefits of reduced utility bills, energy choices, and a healthier and more resilient community.

  4. Expanded Public Transportation System operated with electric vehicles, and schedules as well as routes that meet citizen needs.

  5. Investments in business and infrastructure that lead to research centers, job creation, and new business development in renewables.

  6. Attention to the preservation of the beauty and health of this region which will result in additional economic initiatives in outdoor recreation and tourism.

  7. Increased citizen engagement in leading and advising local government.

  8. Retention and recruitment of the entrepreneurial generations who seek a livable community.

To begin working on these points, I will engage in regional partnership discussions and coordinated actions through existing organizations that are working on sustainability concerns:

  • Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership (NETREP) Stewardship Council

  • Citizens Climate Lobby of NE TN

  • Keep Jonesborough Beautiful

  • First Tennessee Development District Environmental Planner

  • Solid Waste Planning Board

  • NETN Outdoor Recreation Coalition

  • Regional Higher Ed and K-12 student organizations

  • Municipal Leaders in the Appalachian Highlands

First, our community needs a mission and overall focus on community well-being. Each city and county in the region should establish a committee that reports to the First Tennessee Development District. Johnson City could create a standing citizen board on climate and sustainability that reports to the commission. Climate and sustainability solutions should be part of the ongoing business of local government, not an add-on or ad hoc crisis response. Real solutions lie in a longer time orientation to prepare our community to “flatten the curve” of climate change impacts.

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