by Remi Charron

Nothing personal, Bill Gates, but I won’t be reading your new book on how to avert climate disaster. We’ve heard it all before: If we follow the right strategies and invest in the right technologies, we will achieve our emissions-reduction targets, and the economy will prosper. After decades of hearing the same message, it can be hard to stomach.

If you want to sound the alarm about climate change, you must also offer a healthy dose of hope that humanity can come together and solve the problem. I get it; people simply don’t want to read how dire the situation…


by Anna Friedman and Jeb Brugmann

In February of this year, Texans faced a triple threat. There was the ongoing pandemic, with its devastating toll on lives and jobs. Then came the winter storms that crippled the state’s poorly prepared electrical grid. When the grid went down, families across the state were left without water, food or heat.

We live in a time of cascading crises. Millions of American families lack the underlying physical and economic support systems that could help them contend with the economic, environmental, health and social strains presented by these increasingly common challenges. …


by Denise Fairchild

The Biden administration has ushered in a new progressive era. Its “build back better” playbook of policies and initiatives address the serious challenges of our generation: climate change, economic recovery, racial justice and a safety net for struggling families. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) represented a historic $1.9 trillion down payment on the administration’s promise to the American people, and an American Jobs Act (AJA) of equal or larger size may follow.

This is historic. The administration’s agenda has been likened to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in its sweeping investment in rebuilding the American economy, with…


by David F. Coursen

After surviving a barrage of assaults on its mission and the science that supports it, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now faces the triple challenges of rebuilding its capacity to protect the nation’s air, land and water; leading the urgent response to climate change that the science demands, and delivering environmental justice to disadvantaged communities. President Biden’s EPA budget request for fiscal 2022 takes a huge step toward meeting those challenges.

The administration has requested a $2 billion increase in EPA’s budget, with 90 percent of the proposed increase — $1.8 billion — going to climate work, which EPA astutely…


by Bill Fulton and Henry Cisneros

Gray and boring. Stolid and unexciting. These words are sometimes used to refer to infrastructure. The prefix “infra” derives from the Latin word for “under” or “beneath,” suggesting why it is easy to understate its significance.

Infrastructure is the invisible substrata of our physical environment, composed of steel, wiring, concrete, asphalt, electric pulses, metals, masonry, and other materials. But it is also, at this moment, connected to the most important progressive goals in the United States today.

The pandemic uncovered a deep inequality in access to basic public services, from poorly located and equipped health facilities to transportation systems that…


by Richard Moore

More than ever before, the Biden administration has put environmental justice on the national agenda. In January, President Biden outlined plans for the Justice40 Initiative, which would direct 40 percent of the benefits of a sustainable economy to marginalized communities like mine, in Albuquerque, N.M.

To some, this may sound like a new and radical idea. But in fact, it grew from decades — if not centuries — of struggle. Environmental justice is an idea that connects the wisdom of our ancestors with the dreams of our children. …


by Dana Bourland

Two of the biggest problems we face today — a shortage of decent, affordable housing and climate change — are connected. Fortunately, the solutions are connected as well. That’s why we must not only “build back better” in the wake of pandemic and recession, but build back greener.

Most housing in the United States is inefficient and expensive to heat and cool. That means high utility bills and higher carbon emissions: residential energy use accounts for a fifth of climate-changing greenhouse gases emitted in the United States.

At the same time, the facilities that produce the power to build and…


by Ilana Preuss

When community leaders in Columbia, Missouri, first set out to revitalize The Loop, the prospects felt daunting. This stretch of Highway 40 serves as the entrance to Columbia but has been neglected for decades. Local small businesses were few, and struggling.

Leaders organized conversations with neighbors to understand what types of businesses were currently in the region, what the community wanted, and how this effort could contribute to broader city priorities. They soon learned that one particular type of business held an uncommonly powerful potential to support transformation.

Small-scale manufacturers like Claysville Creations and Heartland Soapworks were selling products online…


by Laurie Mazur

For many in the public housing realm, the arts and culture are nice-to-have amenities — a mural painted on a newly constructed building, perhaps, or a concert in a courtyard.

But at Yesler Terrace, a 30-acre public housing development near downtown Seattle, arts and culture play a more central role. Since 2015, the Seattle Housing Authority has worked to integrate arts and culture into Yesler’s ambitious redevelopment plan. Five years in, this approach has produced tangible benefits for the people served by the housing authority.

Yesler Terrace boasts a rich history, as well as a vibrant, diverse community. Completed in…


by Claire Latané

During the pandemic, schools across the country turned themselves inside out, holding classes outdoors to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. And now that vaccination is driving down transmission rates, school administrators are eager to get students back in the classroom.

But disease prevention is just one of many reasons to educate kids outdoors. As we invest in pandemic recovery and infrastructure, we should make sure all students have access to nature-filled outdoor spaces.

Consider the experience of Portland, Maine, one of the country’s first public school districts to develop a district-wide outdoor learning program in response to COVID-19. …

Urban Resilience Project

A changing climate means a changing society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project (URP) is committed to a greener, fairer future. www.islandpress.org/URP

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