I just read an article by Anna Waugh, the associate editor of the Mac Weekly, Macalester College’s school newspaper. The Ford Motors Plant near the school will be closing in 2009 and Macalester students are trying to work with Unions and the community to green the space when it goes vacant. There are substantial positives that can result from this, contrary to the abundant negatives that usually follow large American motor factory closings.

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They’re talking green all the way. Residential housing, shopping centers, and then the choice of where to invest. Will it be light rail manufacturing? Or renewable energy production? Or maybe something else really cool that I don’t even know about? The changes could actually improve the quality of life for the surrounding community, not bring it down with the factory closing. The Ford Site Planning Task Force appointed by the city of St. Paul is coming up with the plan which they think will be a “beacon for what green jobs can really be in this country”.

Yes, this is great. We aren’t letting a day go by without using a facility in the best possible way. The wave of green is so strong that all these students, architects, engineers, union members and folks in the community are basically telling Ford, “Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.”

It’s almost like exchanging one infrastructure for a more modern one that, well, just makes more sense. It’s also important to note that they’re not really sure what type of green manufacturing business they will go with. They’ll probably just take bids from several emerging companies or from current companies that can’t keep up with demand.

My favorite part of this might be the focus on building community. It allows people to share energy sources more easily and we avoid spending so much on transportation when we agree to live, shop, and work in the same general area. People are usually friendlier in these areas and work together with their neighbors.

Hopefully, Macalester and the city of St Paul will achieve their green goals and their ‘beacon’ can light the way for future manufacturing infrastructure. Maybe Anna Waugh can keep us posted.

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