Seaweed farms have the capacity to grow huge amounts of nutrient-rich food, and oysters can act as an efficient carbon and nitrogen sink.
Communities with a Purpose
The statistic is surprising: 48% of all Americans are either "low income" or living below the poverty line. And 57% of all public school children hover at the poverty line, or live below it. Many who find themselves in these distressed circumstances suffer from obesity, diabetes, and poor health. Grow up poor, and you may find yourself with a shorter lifespan.
Millions of dollars have been thrown at the American slums, only to see little progress in breaking the poverty cycle. Schools have been revamped, to little avail. Is the problem of poverty insuperable--especially in this economy? Perhaps not. The solution might lie in everything: approach poverty holistically and sustainably--and we just might kill it.
Atlanta is a leader in using this holistic approach. Back in 1995, its neighborhood of East Lake was like a war zone. Crime was eighteen times greater than the national average and drug use was rampant. Only 5% of of fifth graders met state standards for math.
Then a local philanthropist and real estate developer got the ball rolling: public and private money was used to replace public housing with modern, energy-efficient apartments--some were low-income, some public, some market rate. A grocery store was encouraged to open (low-income areas tend to be "food deserts," without easily available good food). A bank branch was opened. But most importantly, a charter school was begun--one with longer hours that required a child's attendance from the age three, continuing to 8th grade (the community wants to expand the school to 12th grade).
The result? After several years of trail and error, crime went down and East Lake is now a safe neighborhood. Word of Atlanta's success got around--other philanthropists and billionaires such as Warren Buffett came aboard. Efforts are now underway to create other so-called Purpose Built Communities.
These new neighborhoods will use the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) standard, which set the parameters for walkable, bike-friendly, resource-efficient neighborhoods. LEED-ND neighborhoods are designed to have lower operations and infrastructure costs, increased use of public transportation, improvement to public health, and better environmental protection.
It'll be years until the first batch of Purpose Built Communities are complete and fully operational, with LEED-ND housing, schools, grocery stores, and bank branches well in place. So far, Purpose Built Communities they're in various stages of development in Birmingham, Charlotte, Galveston, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Omaha, and the cities of Rome and Clarkston, Georgia. Still others are on the way.
Will these efforts work? They just might. And they might be pointing the way to changing the the cycle of poverty.