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2020 Vision (or What Happened When I Read About Ray Anderson's Big, Hairy Audacious Goals)

Posted Nov 22 2009 10:00pm

So I'm walking around with a book tucked under my arm. Staying up late reading it. And eschewing wheelbarrow-pushing for reading on a bench at the community garden.

"What are you reading that's so riveting?" someone asked me, prying my nose out of the book. No, it isn't some pot boiler mystery, and if this stranger knew me at all, he'd know that. I haven't picked up fiction in something like four years.

It's Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, by Ray Anderson, founder and CEO of the Atlanta-based company Interface , which is arguably the most sustainable corporation on the planet. Just as Anderson says he felt like he had gotten a spear in the chest after he finished reading Paul Hawken's book The Ecology of Commerce, and then went on to change his business, his life and the world, I feel like I, too, am being pointed in a more clear direction.

Big, hairy, audacious goals. That's what Anderson calls them. Big, hairy, audacious goals. That's how he eventually came up with seven goals of what he calls Mount Sustainability. But more on that another time. This post isn't about Interface. It's about how reading just the first 100 pages of this book snapped my 2020 Vision for The Little City That Could into focus. As chairperson of the Sustainability Commission for the newest city in the United States (which celebrates its one-year anniversary on December 1!), I propose this work-in-progress
The 2020 Vision for the City of Dunwoody, GA (and, perhaps, you can adapt this for your city, too)

By the Year 2020
* The City of Dunwoody will be carbon neutral, and will have the largest Zero Waste Zone in the United States.

* The City of Dunwoody will have a LEED Platinum (or comparable)-certified City Hall, and the highest number of LEED (or comparable)-certified buildings in the Southeastern United States.

* Every major artery in the City of Dunwoody will be a Complete Street .

* Every neighborhood in the City of Dunwoody will have a WalkScore of at least 75.

* The City of Dunwoody will have food-producing, usable green space within a half mile of every residence and business.

* The City of Dunwoody will have the largest number of locally-owned-and-operated businesses in the Southeastern United States.

* Every neighborhood lake in the City of Dunwoody will be a toxin-free, food-producing wildlife habitat.

* Every school in the City of Dunwoody, from preschool to college, will have a school garden, a Safe Routes to School program, and a No Idling program.

* No citizen in the City of Dunwoody will be food-insecure .

* The City of Dunwoody will be a designated Tree City USA , Bicycle-Friendly Community , and Atlanta Regional Commission Gold-Level Green Community .

Okay, fine. But how do we get there? Well, Anderson quotes the Scottish mountaineer William Hutchinson Murray (who borrowed from Goethe, including the quote that has hung in my office for the last 14 years)
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

And so, I do not have a spear in my heart. I have a trowel in my hand. And I point it forward. To 2020. I commit to providing the plan that makes this possible.
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