Once considered one of the most conservative cities in the country, and known largely for its industrial manufacturing history, Indianapolis may seem like an unlikely leader in the movement to create more vibrant, healthy, equitable communities.
In fact, the city is nurturing a promising green economy that serves as a model for the rest of the country. Today, Indianapolis is home to innovative projects that are sprouting green jobs in everything from storm water management and tourism to recycling and energy efficiency. Meanwhile, the neighborhoods hit hardest by decades of blight are creating their own solutions, building their own green businesses, and coming back stronger than ever.
This video shows just a few highlights from Indianapolis' thriving green economy:
Through federal stimulus funding, Indianapolis has upgraded many of its buildings to slash energy waste -- which in turn cuts down on coal pollution that causes global warming -- as well as asthma, heart disease, cancer and other health problems. And energy efficiency is one of the best ways to create good, local jobs that can't be shipped overseas. One of the city's biggest focuses? Upgrading its fire stations to save energy.
The city is also increasing its resilience and keeping waterways clean through green stormwater infrastructure. One major project, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, not only draws tourists and encourages biking and walking -- its innovative green infrastructure helps absorb stormwater that might otherwise carry chemicals into lakes and streams or lead to dangerous sewage overflows.
Meanwhile, companies like RecycleForce are saving precious resources while giving ex-offenders an opportunity to change their lives and stay off the streets. The company processes over 600,000 pounds of material every month, while putting dozens of formerly incarcerated folks to work in good, stable jobs -- jobs they can be proud of.
And in neighborhoods throughout the city, we're seeing local residents and youth forge a path into a healthier future. Indianapolis residents have created an Eco Center that allows youth to maintain authentic voices and interface with power on their own terms. As part of these community efforts, young people are forming urban gardens, using aquaponic technology to grow fish and food, and managing an innovative composting project that collects waste from local restaurants for use in local food gardens.
As Green For All Fellow and Indianapolis community leader Imhotep Adisa puts it, "It's a wonderful feeling to see young people go from an idea of what they can't do to being very self-determinant and self reliant."
The movement for healthier, more resilient cities is not just taking root in Indianapolis. It's growing all over America -- in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Buffalo, and other communities. City by city, block by block, we're building a vibrant green economy -- and changing lives in the process.