We Are Ready
Dear Mr. President,
I was among the nearly two million people on the National Mall yesterday to witness the beginning of your presidency. It was cold, crowded, and thrilling. It’s hard to sufficiently describe the dynamic of the crowd, majesty of the moment, and the enormity of the emotional connection we felt to you and to each other. Your words, as always, made my heart sing.
This morning it’s time to get to work on the vast problems that face us. As FDR said in his first inaugural address, “This nation asks for action and action now.”
Yesterday you promised to “work tirelessly to…roll back the specter of a warming planet.” You acknowledged that we can no longer “consume the world’s resources without regard to effect.”
You said, “We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids, and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.” May I respectfully suggest a different focus, one that retains the vitality of our existing neighborhoods, where we concentrate on walkable communities served by mass transit rather than those needing an ever-expanding system of highways, and that upgrades to the nation’s electrical grid increasingly include renewable energy?
The built environment, representing over 35 percent of our economy, is our country’s biggest asset. Specifically, we need you to define a vision where our buildings are designed or retrofitted to live lightly on the land, go beyond energy efficiency to regenerative, promote human health and productivity, and use materials wisely. Organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council have begun this work, but you, Mr. President, can forge partnerships, create policy, and give tax incentives to businesses and ordinary people who will further your agenda through the choices that they make.
As Van Jones said, "It’s not that we have a President who’s black; it’s that for the first time we have a President who’s green." You’ve challenged us “to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”
We are ready.