From WorldChanging, the story of Soldier’s Grove, WI, aka “America’s 1st Solar Village.” The way this small town achieved this designation is a model for rethinking how communities can recover from natural disasters:
Soldier’s Grove, Wisconsin is a tiny town that suffered a disastrous flood in the 50’s. The standard solution then, as now, was to build levees. However, when the town was smashed again in the 70’s by an even bigger flood, they decided to do something smarter. They reinvented their town–moved it to higher ground, and made it the first “solar village” in the US. Almost thirty years later, their town’s average building performance is still far ahead of the rest of the nation, and by planning the village’s reconstruction on a systems-level, they were able to also fix other pre-existing problems along the way.
WorldChanger Jeremy Faludi links to Operation Fresh Start, a program of the Department of Energy dedicated to “[helping] individuals and communities incorporate sustainable principles and technologies into their plans when they recover from a flood, earthquake, or other disaster.” In addition to the Soldier’s Grove story, the site also points to sustainable success stories in New Pattonsburg, MO, Rhineland, MO, and Valmeyer, IL. In each of these cases, the town chose to relocate itself rather than try to rebuild in the original site. While this certainly won’t work for every town and city, the fresh thinking that occurred in each of these communities is certainly inspiring.