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The View from Lexington, Massachusetts

WGTB logo PNG 112x89 Post 17 in a series. When Green Turns Brown is an examination of a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.

Whitewater’s had a series of small meetings with designated groups, and two meetings with invitations to the public, about its wastewater plant upgrades (a part of which involves a plan of waste importation into the city).

More information is better than less, all considered. There’s much more infomation that Whitewater might have made public, but has not.

I would have been surprised, however, if any of these sort of meetings were particularly well-attended. Whitewater city government sought and received days of publicity in the Banner, but yet that publicity amounted to few people attending the most recent meeting, from last night.

These meetings, though, are only one way to address a proposal like this. In Lexington, Massachusetts, the city spent years preparing for a digester (just as Whitewater has done), and for most of that time government and vendor work proceeded without much public discussion.

A change in how Lexington solicited input on the project led to a different response, years of former quiet notwithstanding.

See, Lexington selectmen won’t seek developers for anaerobic digester.

It’s not likely that the medium of comment alone made the difference. It’s probable that Lexington residents had a perspective that made them (as the linked article suggests) particularly motivated later in the process.

Still, I don’t think the significant aspect of this project is whether City Manager Clapper can get four votes out of seven for this plan. I’m sure that he can get more than that (“If City Manager Clapper wanted a vote on this project tomorrow, including importing as much waste into Whitewater as he could shovel, he’d receive easy political approval for that idea”).

I would not have sought this idea (that is, waste importation under the claim of green energy), but here it returns, and having returned, I see it as far more than a vote: this is a chance to write and film separate works about a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.

Here in outline and later elsewhere more fully, I want to consider the fiscal, economic, environmental, health, and business cultural changes that waste importation will present for Whitewater.

In this respect, it’s not what happens now, but what happens later, that’s significant.

WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN: Mondays @ 10 AM, here on FREE WHITEWATER.

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