Green Town USA: The Handbook for America's Sustainable Future

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Hatherleigh Press, 2013 - Business & Economics - 226 pages
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"There was never a town with a truer name, though it didn't really discover it till tragedy created an opportunity that residents seized with head and heart!"
— Bill McKibben, author Oil and Honey:The Education of an Unlikely Activist

Hope for a greener America . . . from the extraordinary community that made it a reality.

Green Town U.S.A. recounts Greensburg's inspiring story of resilience, community, and sustainability which began on the evening of May 4, 2007, when disaster struck the quiet Kansas city. A tornado topping all the scales touched down, and in a matter of minutes, Greensburg, which stood for more than 120 years, was destroyed.

Greensburg committed to reconstructing itself from the ground up while embracing green technology and building methods, along with solar and wind energy. The new Greensburg stands testament to the strength and viability of sustainable community redevelopment and energy-efficient living.

Green Town U.S.A. is a story of hope and opportunity—even in the face of obstacles and difficulties—and provides a real-world proving ground for sustainable solutions. Green Town U.S.A. takes you through the entire reconstruction process, from Long-Term Community Recovery planning for Greensburg, to the latest advancements in green materials and technology, to the leadership and teambuilding necessary to realize an achievement of this magnitude.

Every town can be a “green town.” Any community faced with rebuilding after a natural disaster, planning new municipal buildings or schools, upgrading retail or industrial centers, or building homes can gain valuable insight from the example of Greensburg, Kansas.

Green Town U.S.A. is an invaluable handbook for civic leaders, concerned citizens, business owners, and anyone who is a stakeholder in America's sustainable future.

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Recieved from the Goodread's First Reads Program in exchange for an honest review: An easy-to-read guide that recounts the devastating tornado that completely destroyed the town of Greensburg, Kansas ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)


When natural disasters strike, we may watch the news, listen to the tragic stories of loss, and draw inspiration from acts of heroism. A few of us may send donations to the Red Cross. But, fairly quickly, these stories fade from view. Such was the case for many of us with the 2007 tornado that struck the small Kansas town of Greensburg, two hours west of Wichita. The EF5 tornado, more than a mile-and-a-half wide at its base, mowed a swath through the town on the evening of May 4th, destroying 95 percent of Greensburg's buildings and infrastructure.

For Greensburg residents, the tornado was a turning point, an opportunity to stand back and ask "what do we want to be?" The Greensburg tornado launched one of the most remarkable stories in the country of a community pulling itself from the ashes and committing not only to rebuild, but to rebuild as the greenest, most sustainable town in America.

Greensburg became America's Green Town.

Now, six years later, Greensburg is ready to teach the rest of us how to do it. Green Town U.S.A. provides a roadmap that will help us use the experiences of Greensburg to transform our own communities. We don't have to wait for a tragedy to begin this process of change. Sustainability translates into more jobs, improved quality of life, a healthier environment, and resilience, and this book will help you begin the process of achieving sustainability in your town.

Consider Green Town U.S.A. your manual for this transition. By creating a bridge to the future using sustainable practices as our measure, we can renew, restore, and rebuild this great country one Green Town at a time.

--Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson is the Founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. in Brattleboro, Vermont and the nonprofit Resilient Design Institute.

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