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July 30, 2012

Get Your Kicks

This week at USEE, we're celebrating the merits of recycling. And what on earth does Route 66 have to do with it? Well, portions of America's most famous road may be getting massive makeovers thanks in part to the Center for Creative Land Recycling. CCLR is a nonprofit organization founded on the belief that intelligent, innovative land use is the key to ensuring a healthy future for both our communities and our environment, and Route 66 is on their to-do list.

Land recycling is the act of reusing abandoned, vacant, or underused properties, also known as brownfields, for redevelopment or repurposing. In other words, and putting it bluntly, it's beautifying an eyesore, and it's a fantastic idea that not only fosters community and relationships, but often assists those who need it most. CCLR has been involved with projects such as the Truckee Railyard, community parks and waterfront areas, as well as various abandoned gas stations and lumber mills. They've also help develop low-income and foster care transitional housing units, and senior housing. Click here for details.

Other notable brownfield redevelopment projects include Gasworks Park in Seattle, Union Point Park in Oakland, the Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes in Silver Valley, Idaho, and Alumnae Valley at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Click here to learn how these great places were redeveloped, and to learn about others.

CCLR now has its sights on Route 66, and has this to say about the famous route: "Once a thriving thoroughfare, Route 66 was abandoned for faster freeways leaving abandoned gas stations and economic strife in its wake. The EPA Brownfields Program and state and local initiatives are addressing the issue: How can Route 66 be cleaned up to promote economic vitality and bring new life to rural communities? Brownfields have already been cleaned up and restored to new use as parks and transit depots in communities like Winslow and Flagstaff. Potential redevelopment opportunities also include land for green technology such as solar and wind energy."

The Natural Resources Defense Council Staff blog, Switchboard, offers an interesting article and a great five-minute video on what CCLR plans to do with Route 66. It's worth your time, not only for the inspiring information and enthusiastic townspeople, but also (spoiler alert) for the charming, elderly barber who sings at the end.


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