One hour south of Madison, WI, an hour and a half southwest of Milwaukee, WI and less than two hours northwest of Chicago lies Beloit, Wisconsin [“Beloit, Wisconsin”]. Located along the Illinois-Wisconsin border, Beloit is the “gateway to Wisconsin’ [“City of Beloit”]. The first white trapper settled in Beloit in the 1820s and over the next 20 years, it was established as a town centered around Beloit College [“City of Beloit”]. One hundred and sixty-two years after being incorporated as a city by the State of Wisconsin, Beloit is home to just over 37,000 residents, “67% Caucasian, 15% African-American, 9% Hispanic/Latino, and 1% Asian-American, with another 8% from other ethnic or racial backgrounds” [“City of Beloit”].The economic high that Beloit reached during World War II as a steel and engine manufacturing center took a down turn in the 1970s [“City of Beloit”].
Community members came together as Beloit2000, and later Beloit 2020, to revitalize the City [Adams]. Over the past 20 years, the focus has been the City Center, Downtown and Riverside areas along the Rock River, but the focus is shifting for many in the community.
*from the Beloit City Center
Large cities across the country, like Dallas are coming to the call of their citizens [City of Dallas]. Global climate change factors are becoming apparent through our weather, natural disasters, and social issues. Citizens want cleaner, greener and more sustainable communities to live in. Farmers’ markets featuring local produce are the fastest growing aspect of the American food economy [McKibben, “Downtown Grocery”]. But even though eating local is the best way to foster community growth much of our food comes prepackaged from across the country and world. National companies are striving to make their processing plants sustainable and green to fill this request [“Chew on This”]. The U.S. Green Building Council established a certification process for sustainable and environmentally friendly designed buildings in the year 2000. LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification for current and existing buildings works on a points system in six groups covering:
Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation in Design [“Frequently Asked Questions”].
Beloit has heard its citizens. Over the past year, three different sustainable projects have been started by individual initiative, Kettle Foods, the Center for the Sciences and a local grocery. On 17 December 2007, the Beloit City Council approved a resolution for the Eco-Municipality Sustainable Guidelines for the City of Beloit [“Eco-Municipality”]. These guidelines go hand in hand with the beautification and restoration of the city that has been headed by Beloit 2020 since the late 1980s [Adams]. The guidelines, though vague, are a start to changing the city. They are as follows:
- Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels
- Reduce dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in nature
- Reduce dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining ecosystems
- Meet the hierarchy of present and future human needs fairly and efficiently [“Eco-Municipality”]
These goals, along with the individual initiative of community members, have begun to change the face of Beloit. Three new sustainable buildings are revolutionizing the city in one short year.
Adams, Jeff. "A Vision for the City Center." Beloit 2020. Beloit 2020, Beloit, WI. 5 Feb. 2008.
"Beloit, Wisconsin." Map. Google Maps. 21 Mar. 2008 <*www.maps.google.com*>.
"Chew on This: "Green" Junk Food." NBC Nightly News. MSNBC. 2 Jan. 2008. 11 Mar. 2008 <*http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/22464701#22464701*>.
"City of Beloit." City of Beloit. 2008. Beloit City Council. 19 Mar. 2008 <*http://www.ci.beloit.wi.us/*>.
City Of Dallas. "Green Dallas: Building a Greener City." Green Dallas. 2008. City of Dallas. 19 Mar. 2008 <*http://www.greendallas.net/*>.
"Downtown Grocery." 2008. 19 Mar. 2008 <*http://www.downtowngrocery.com/*>.
"Eco-Municipality Sustainable Guidelines for the City of Beloit." City of Beloit. 29 Feb. 2008. City of Beloit. 18 Mar. 2008 <*http://www.ci.beloit.wi.us/index.asp?Type=B_LIST&SEC=%7B93F0C20D-1D1B-4691-B5AF-6AFAE41BEB2E%7D*>.
McKibben, Bill. "First, Step Up." Editorial. Yes! Spring 2008. <*http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?id=2271*>.