Friday, July 17, 2009

President Obama dispatches his Cabinet to Green Impact Zone

In a sign that the hard work of neighborhood leaders is getting noticed at the highest levels, President Obama has directed his Cabinet to visit Kansas City as part of a three city national tour. Denver and Philadelphia will also be visited. I am proud to say David Warm, Executive Director of the Mid-America Regional Council was at the White House at the invitation of the Office of Urban Policy to promote Kansas City’s urban needs including the Green Impact Zone. Warm was on hand for the announcement delivered by the President.

“Instead of waiting for Washington, a lot of cities have already gone ahead and become their own laboratories for change and innovation, some leading the world in coming up with new ways to solve the problems of our time.

So you take an example like Denver. Their metropolitan area is projected to grow by 1 million residents over the next 15 years or so. But rather than wait for a congestion crisis, they're already at work on plans to build and operate a public transit system up to the challenge, and to surround that system with smart new housing, retail, and office development near each stop.

Philadelphia is an example of what's been called ‘urban agriculture.’ It may sound like an oxymoron, but one proposal is trying to make a situation where fresh, local food supplies are within a short walk for most city residents, which will have a direct impact not only on the economy and on the environment, but also make an immeasurable difference in the health of Americans.

Or Kansas City. One idea there focuses on transforming a low-income community into a national model of sustainability by weatherizing homes and building a green local transit system.

Three different cities with three unique ideas for the future. And that's why they're three of the cities that are members of my -- that members of my Cabinet and Office of Urban Affairs will visit this summer as part of a ongoing national conversation to lift up best practices from around the country, to look at innovations for the metropolitan areas of tomorrow. Forward-looking cities shouldn't be succeeding despite Washington; they should be succeeding with a hand from Washington. We want to hear directly from them, and we want to hear directly from all of you, on fresh ideas and successful solutions that you've devised, and then figure out what the federal government should do or shouldn't do to help reinvent cities and metropolitan areas for the 21st century.”

President Barack Obama
July 13, 2009

This announcement from the President is confirmation that the work being done by the neighborhoods, MARC, the city and all the partner agencies is getting noticed by the Administration. When the President is citing your initiative as a model for the nation, you have done something right. My thanks and congratulations go to the neighborhood leaders and community groups who continue to work hard to make this vision a reality. The nation is looking to us to lead.

The White House said more details about the visit will follow.

Complete remarks can be found here >>>

I would also like to thank the City Council of Kansas City and particularly Council members Circo and Riley who achieved passage of a $1.5 million dollar operating budget for the Green Impact Zone which will be designated for the Mid-America Regional Council to hire staff to administer the Zone, open a service center, and support data collection and planning activities in the Green Impact Zone.