On any given day, pick up a copy of the The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Business Journal or log onto Inside Indiana Business and you’ll read about a litany of major issues facing our beloved Circle City.
Some of the major issues you’ll read about:
• Attracting new jobs
• Supporting local businesses
• Building the life sciences industry
• Increasing tourism
• Creating a better, more robust public transit system
• Greening buildings and homes
• Asset management of our city streets (repair, resurfacing, rehabilitation, etc.)
• Encouraging healthy behavior and fitness
All of these issues are important, but the biggest issue, in my opinion, is improving our public schools—Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to be exact. Without a good public school system, none of the other stuff matters. And that is partly a green issue.
If we don’t have good schools, businesses won’t want to locate here. If we don’t have good schools, who will fill those jobs we are trying to attract? Who will be the life science leaders of tomorrow? They may head to other parts of Central Indiana, but that translates to suburban sprawl. And that’s a green issue.
We can’t have a truly great public transit system that only goes from the suburbs to downtown for commuters either. We need an inner city network. If we don’t have better performance in the classroom there will continue to be a growing suburban population and a shrinking city population. And that’s a green issue.
We can’t build green buildings and fix our roads in a sustainable manner if we don’t have people who want to live and work here either. Our schools are causing flight to the suburbs or private school. In turn, the students get a ride to homeroom in their parent’s car or their own vehicle. And that’s a green issue.
There is also frequent talk about creating a healthier, fitter Indianapolis. The easiest way to improve health in any community is to get people more physically active. Walking just 20 minutes per day, even in five-minute intervals, will go a long way. A walkable community is a green community. If we don’t have better schools in Indy, people will continue to spread out and that doesn’t make for a walkable community. That’s a green issue.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Improving IPS is much, much more than a green issue. I won’t even pretend to have solutions or suggestions to fix our public schools. I won’t even pretend to understand all of the problems facing Dr. Eugene White and his administration. However, I know there is a little bit that each of us can do. There are a number of organizations around the city, including IPS, who need volunteers, donations, etc.
And that my friends, is a green issue.
Ryan Puckett is principal of two21 LLC, a communication firm with a focus on providing creative content, advocacy and communications strategy for all things pertaining to sustainability. Ryan is an Indiana University-Bloomington grad and alum of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. He lives in Broad Ripple with his wife, son and dog, is a veteran of 160+ Phish shows and is a long-suffering Cubs fan. Contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rmpuckett.