Local Isn’t Local 

WGTB logo PNG 112x89 Post 44 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.

Last week I posted a video explanation from Whitewater City Manager Cameron Clapper about a digester-energy project. At the end of that post, I mentioned that I’d write about his remarks, more particularly today.  Needless to say, I will write about those remarks in detail, but not today.

Over the last two weeks, there have been developments elsewhere in the state worth mentioning, about factory farms, water quality, and efforts of Wisconsinites to protect their homes from environmental risk (and consequently declining property values).

In both comments and email that I have received over the last week, people have asked questions about the goals of the WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN series.  Events in other parts of the state help explain some of the goals of the series.

First, what’s happening elsewhere?  There are, and have been, large protests in other parts of the state against factory farms (concentrated animal feeding operations, called CAFOs for short), dumping of manure, aerial spraying of manure, and collapsing water quality from waste dumping.

Many of these issues are universal, no matter the (highly unconvincing) efforts to recast local plans.

In Whitewater, almost none of this has been mentioned.  For other parts of the state, it’s a significant, growing concern.  I have watched and followed these developments for the last few years, from around the time that former City Manager Brunner, and then Acting City Manager Clapper, unsuccessfully sought to bring an additional digester to Whitewater.

WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN will lead to an ebook and a video documentary, and will describe Whitewater’s project not only on its own terms, but in comparison and contrast to how other communities are approaching these issues.  Messrs. Reel, Clapper, the Whitewater Council, the Whitewater CDA, etc., are not acting in a vacuum, or on a distant island – this is a much bigger topic than locally described.

(So much bigger, in fact, that failure to address matters contextually looks like willful ignorance.)

The posts so far in this series are notes along the way to those other works.

Those works will describe this city’s approach and the (very different) approaches of other Wisconsin and other beyond-Wisconsin communities.

People choose, but not all similarly; people choose, but not all wisely.

Below are just two links to accounts from other communities, of their response to many of these issues.  (I’ve written on one of these communities – Lexington, Massachusetts – briefly before.)  These concerns from other communities are the telling and unmentioned background of all what’s happening closer to home.

See, Central Wisconsin Wants Golf Resort; Opposes Industrialized, Polluting Dairy, and previously in the WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN series, The View from Lexington, Massachusetts.

Next Week: Assessing the 9.17.15 description of the project.