The chamber's Lori Mattson at the branding launch said, "We need to come up with something in common that says who we are and what is driving our future."
We have the rivers and sun.
What if we really focused on the sun? Not the 300-plus days of sun praised for golf, watersports and wine. But sun as an energy source. We could brand ourselves as the Mecca of solar and sustainable design and infrastructure.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers do all sorts of work on sustainability, from smart grid to climate impacts. Community leaders tout that research and brain trust -- but don't invest in their innovations. We ignore their research and findings in our day-to-day activities.
We should be building a smart grid here. We should have solar-charging stations and be converting to electric fleet vehicles. The cities and utilities should build solar infrastructure and offer support to business and residential customers to green their businesses.
Many players who support this branding project also support the Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative. The MCEI website points to our green energy -- 97 percent hydro. But many regions cannot rely on hydro. We could implement and prove these technologies, provide examples and leadership in design, that other communities need to see before investing.
We should work to be more sustainable overall. In 2010 we hosted the American Planning Association NW regional conference. I heard some attendees lamenting how they'd taken an after-dinner walk from the Red Lion, intending to go to the river. Though only 1.4 miles, they only got as far as West Arrowhead. There is no safe pedestrian access to the river from our arts and entertainment district. After sitting all day in conference sessions, many people look forward to a walk. Theirs was thwarted by bad infrastructure.
Walking the talk of sustainable infrastructure and green power might counteract the negative image so many outsiders have of us. Maybe instead of strangers asking us if we're glowing green -- they could admire us for going green.
And even if they didn't, it would improve our local quality of life.
-- GINGER WIREMAN, Richland