“Anything you can blow up in an action movie…” says Zach Schafer to begin our studio salon. Bridges, roads, dams, and airports are the traditional way we used to think of infrastructure. We now look at the soft stuff too - our green spaces manage stormwater and our civic places that shore up communities. It’s all critical to the healthy functioning of our towns + our cities. So much of it remains in the background unnoticed until it fails, and we are surprised at the cost for the upgrade or repair. It’s tough to fund the initiatives for bringing infrastructure into the 21st century since nobody schedules a ribbon-cutting for filling potholes.We continue the thought in our discussion – civic places and green spaces are infrastructure. What happens when we combine uses for efficiency and bring infrastructure into the public frame of reference? A park is a facility for filtration + stormwater management; a recreation center provides space for wellness programs and a refuge in a flood; rooftops on every neighborhood school are nodes in a solar energy grid. The green technologies of the future become better integrated with our daily lives. "The opportunity is great," says Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. Green infrastructure means green jobs, “like the kind we’re training for now at the new DC Infrastructure Academy.” If the traditional infrastructure is the stuff that holds our built environment together, it’s the soft stuff like jobs training that knits our communities together, making them more resilient.
Special thanks to our panelists: Tommy Wells, Director, DC Department of Energy + the Environment Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes, Director, DC Department of Employment Services Zachary Schafer, Executive Director + CEO, Infrastructure Week