The calendar is counting down the days remaining to register to attend the Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conference, at least in terms of being able to get the cheapest tickets and to be eligible for scholarship funds. Ann Arbor was chosen as this year's destination because of its perceived similarities to Chapel Hill, in both the populace and the problems they face. Are any OP'ers planning on attending this year? For those of you who went to Madison two years ago, do you feel like any real progress is made on these trips, or would community leaders be better off with a staycation?
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of seeing Van Jones speak. He co-founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and is founder and president of Green For All. He spoke convincingly of a future of increased equality and how one of the roads to this future is green jobs. Green-collar jobs are employment in the environmental or agricultural sectors of the economy. [Source: Wikipedia] But they also include any work that will help transform our society into a more environmentally sustainable one.
One way our local government leaders could participate in this national movement is to sign the Green Jobs Pledge. Its goal is to "rebuild American competitiveness and environmental leadership by growing a green economy that fights global warming, pollution and poverty at the same time." Here are the five steps this pledge asks our leaders to agree to:
- Commit to Action
- Create a Green-collar Jobs Taskforce
- Identify Goals and Assess Opportunities
- Create a Local Action Plan
- Evaluate, Leverage and Grow
A recently-completed feasibility study has smiled upon the idea of rail service in HIllsborough, and the town is purchasing land for a future station. Amtrak and NC DOT say it makes financial sense, but they also say that it can only work if the town gets serious about long-term planning.
Just in time for the Orange County Comprehensive Plan, which some think is overly reliant on sprawling growth and not doing enough smart land use planning!
The town would need to further develop and adopt a concept plan of
how rail service would fit into overall community development, such as
plans for land use, road networks and transit, bike and pedestrian
access. The rail service would need to coordinate well with other modes
A comprehensive review of the local rail infrastructure, including nearby road and pedestrian crossings, would be needed.
town also would need to locate a site for a rail/transit stop.
Concurrently, the town is obtaining property in Central Hillsborough
that has the potential to serve as a rail stop and transit center.
This fall, the Orange County Commissioners are scheduled to approve a new Comprehensive Plan; the first such vote in nearly thirty years! If you work, live or own land in Orange County, the Plan affects you; it sets a vision for how the county will develop over the next 20 years. Please take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of Orange County by voicing your interests and concerns to the Orange County Planning Board and County Commissioners.
Once adopted, the new Comprehensive Plan will begin to impact decisions about our tax base, the kind of jobs and housing created in the county, where new development will occur, what that development will look like, and how we will move about the county.
Holden Thorp starts his new job tomorrow. I'm feeling very encouraged about his potential to establish a more collaborative relationship between the University and our local governments. I hope he will remember that neither can thrive without the other.
What advice do you have for him?
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