Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sustainable St. Croix Future!

The movie Apollo 13 had a magnificent line about options after an onboard explosion that might have prevented the crew from getting safely home: "Failure is not an option." I've been thinking recently that the same thing could be said about creating a sustainable, resilient future for the St. Croix River Valley. We are lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful places in Minnesota, and, perhaps, the entire country. We enjoy a sense of living history, arts, local food, natural resources, plus four seasons and more, all combined in a fantastic living mosaic. We can enjoy it but we can't encapsulate it and keep things just as they are. Life doesn't work that way.

Canoeing the St. Croix on a Spring Saturday
Canoeing the St. Croix on a Spring Saturday           © harrington

Recently, many of us successfully sesponded to an excessive traffic threat to Taylors Falls and triggered reconsideration of a proposal that would have added a few hundred trucks transporting frac sand through that city. Right now, Highway 8 through Chisago County, and Highway 95 out of Taylors Falls to North Branch, each carry a significant component of "semi-articulated lorries," as our allies from across the pond call 18-wheelers. When we (my Better Half and I) were sitting on the front porch at Coffee Talk earlier this week, the number of sand trucks already headed through Taylors Falls and east on 95 was (literally) disturbing. All of this, plus the recent addition of a number of very large dump trucks to the traffic on the township road that runs by our house, due to segments of Highway 8 being reconstructed, made me realize that one of the fundamental choices we have is to play defense and react every time a proposed development threatens our part(s) of the Valley, or, we can take a proactive stance and constructively create the kind of economy, with the kinds of jobs and land use impacts that we want to enjoy and support.

Even though they weren't invented here, there are models we can adapt to the St. Croix Valley if we decide to be proactive. Furthermore, right now at least two initiatives are underway that are trying to envision a better future for the Valley. Someone much smarter and more famous than I once wrote "The best way to predict the future is to create it." Is it time for those of us who live in the Valley to predict our future, and that of our children, by creating it?

St. Croix Falls / Taylors Falls
St. Croix Falls / Taylors Falls           © harrington

Here are the two initiatives:
and, three resources to consider for starters:
Which options should we emphasize when we're creating the kind of future we want for the St. Croix River Valley? Any of them? All of them?
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