Green Cities Lead the Way

Some of the best green ideas are coming not from leaders at the national or international level, but from the people right in our own communities who know the region best. Working with government, nonprofit and private sector supporters, people around the country are transforming their towns for the better. EarthShare’s many national and local members are involved in a great number of these projects.

We gathered some inspiring stories of work being done at the local level on building a more sustainable society. What is your community doing? Let us know in the comments section!


Denver, CO

SeaDour / Flickr


Denver is the first municipality to be recognized as a Solar Friendly Community under an innovative new program designed to help bring down the costs of solar energy.  “Denver provides a great model on how a large city can make it easy for solar installers to do business,” said Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director for Solar Friendly Communities. “The streamlined permitting, inspection and educational practices translate into lower costs for consumers and a more welcoming climate for solar energy.” – American Solar Energy Society


Baltimore, MD

A.Currell / Flickr


In Baltimore, the frequency of crime decreased as the number of trees increased. Overall, a ten percent increase in tree canopy was associated with a 12 percent drop in crime… Baltimore officials and the study’s authors have speculated that the shading effect of a robust tree canopy both encourages neighbors to spend more time outside and offers the impression of a community where people take care of their surrounding and each other. – Arbor Day Foundation


Philadelphia, PA

Philly Painting


Volunteers with Philly Painting are bringing beauty to neglected parts of the city with a fresh coat of paint. “I love the spirit of innovation in Philadelphia right now, from the city’s leadership in green stormwater infrastructure to the reclamation of vacant lots for neighborhood green space, from the new “front porch” at the train station to the city’s overall sustainability plan.  Philly Painting can be seen as an extension of these efforts, and a highly creative one.” – Kaid Benfield, NRDC 


New Orleans, LA

Editor B / Flickr


The Lafitte Corridor is a largely derelict strip of land along the old Norfolk Southern corridor connecting the French Quarter to the Bayou. Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have been working to preserve this open space by creating a multi-use linear greenway…  Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Friends of the Lafitte Corridor (FOLC) developed a Greenway Ambassadors program to train local residents on the history and greenway planning process of the corridor, so that they could share their knowledge with friends, family, and neighbors at community meetings and events. – Rails-to-Trails Conservancy


Chicago, IL



Chicago's sprawling south side, once thrumming with steel mills and factories, is now covered by large swaths of weedy land strewn with the rubble of faded industries. But last year, a 40-acre patch not far from what was once home to the famous Pullman rail car factory sprouted a crop of 32,000 solar panels. The photovoltaic arrays move automatically to follow the sun, a glistening aberration in an otherwise drab and decrepit landscape. – On Earth, NRDC


New York, NY

City Farmer


Across New York City, gardens and miniature farms — whether on rooftops or at ground level — are joining smart boards and digital darkrooms as must-have teaching tools. They are being used in subjects as varied as science, art, mathematics and social studies. In the past two years, the number of school-based gardens registered with the city jumped to 232, from 40, according to GreenThumb, a division of the parks department that provides schools with technical support.  – City Farmer News


Toledo, OH

ES Rain Garden 2009 001
Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments


In Northwest Ohio, American Rivers has been working with the Toledo government to incorporate low impact development practices like rain gardens and bioretention into the existing zoning code. They’ve also helped remove barriers to using permeable pavement in parking lots. – American Rivers


Davis, CA

UC Davis


The California city, located 11 miles west of Sacramento, has more bikes than cars, operates two bicycle advisory committees and employs two full-time bike coordinators, and has bike lanes on 95-percent of its major streets. It’s innovative approach and long-term commitment to creating and maintaining bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policy has led many to hail the city as the number one bike friendly communities in the United States. - Wired


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