A Working Thesis

Post 50 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.

This is the fiftieth post in this series, with many more to come, along with a standalone website to launch, related social media to support that website, and thereafter a written and video account of waste-hauling projects like the one Whitewater is undertaking.

A reader asked me over the weekend if I had a working thesis, or theme, after these posts. Well, I do, and a commenter’s remarks on a post from November (Questions on the 9.17.15 Remarks on Waste Importation) are a fair description of what a working perspective looks alike. Here’s Sue, commenting on a WGTB post from 11.17.15:

This idea won’t get better. It’s just pretending to say that other cities are rushing to do this. It’s a plan for down and outers. Towns do this because they have quit on themselves. It’s an idea for suckers, that’s all. A successful community of people who cared about their futures would never laugh the way the people in this room do. A successful community of people who cared about their families and property would not have thought the glowing children quip was funny. They wouldn’t hire the kind of person who thought that was funny. If someone showed a successful community the video no one would hire someone who said these things. Part of what you’re doing is showing people who care that they’ve settled for politicians who aren’t up to it.

That’s about right, to my mind. What’s been said at length about this project, from municipal officials, from the vendors hired, and in my research and travels to other cities (more on that later in the series) supports Sue’s comment.

That’s what makes a series, book, and video documentary about this project valuable: it’s not just about Whitewater (much as I love the town), but about Whitewater when compared with other places. One should have the goal of encouraging a place one loves to adopt the sound practices of others; yet in the end, people choose freely, sometimes well, sometimes poorly.

Writing is sometimes commentary, but more often chronicle.


Originally published 12.14.15 @ FREE WHITEWATER.