Friday, June 25, 2010

More ideas for Merrill

Really, this is energy fair pt. 2. But it encompasses much more than that. I've talked before about how Merrill could benefit from diversifying its small business manufacturing base, and touched on saving the remaining historical assets, and how the future will reward towns that follow small and local thinking. Here are a couple more ways that Merrill can get ahead and stay ahead of the game.

First, there's the Complete Streets initiative. I know its too late to effect the construction of the new 64 corridor thru Merrill, but it'd be awesome if Merrill took things like bike lanes into consideration in new construction. This goes hand in hand with mixed-use development, where commercial, residential, and small industry are mixed together -- like Merrill's downtown. In Japan, for instance, there are many shopfronts that were also small manufacturing workshops, where the potter sits at his wheel in the back half of the shop while her wares are being sold in the front half. Merrill's downtown and riverfront area -- and the terribly neglected 6th Ward -- would be ideally suited to this kind of development, where people could walk or bike to their jobs (even in... ugh, winter.)

Then there's the Transition Towns movement, which aims to address this question: "For all those aspects of life that our community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (in response to peak oil), drastically reduce carbon emissions (in response to climate change) and greatly strengthen our local economy (in response to economic instability)?" (If you don't believe in climate change, then... there's not a whole lot I can do for you, other than say, well, is it a good thing we're pumping tons of carbon into the air, and would we be worse off without it?)

The really nice thing about transition towns, as it applies to Merrill, is the resiliency it offers local economies. It offers a way away from foreign oil (oil at all, really), helps build up local businesses, farmers, etc, and actually helps people save money. Check out the link for a 101 about Transition Towns. Maybe something we could get going here?

So, for my peeps in Merrill, how can we get the ball rolling on these, without stretching the already stretched Merrill budget? I'm imagining that the Historical Society would be of invaluable help not only in preserving our remaining historical resources, but also with information about how people lived in Merrill before the energy boom times. Do you have any other ideas about how to make Merrill a more vibrant, livable, planned community?

No comments :