In the scheme of things, sustainability is a relatively new concept, but Duluthians were embracing the principles of sustainability before it was even a word. As a community, people were on the forefront of things like voluntary recycling centers before the days of curbside pickup and buying food in bulk from the original food cooperative housed in someone’s basement -- sustainability has long been woven into the fabric of our community.
The corporate City of Duluth partnered early on with a nation-wide sustainability network called ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability, formed a Cities for Climate Protection (Duluth CCP) advisory committee, and more recently partnered with Sustainable Twin Ports (STP). The City hired its first energy coordinator in 2001. In September of 2010, the City modified the position and hired a coordinator to develop and implement comprehensive sustainability planning and guide initiatives. Here’s what we’ve done since then:
This commitment by City leadership has seen us reach farther than ever towards becoming a truly sustainability community.
Duluth was born and prospered first as a fur trading post and then as an industrial port. Incorporated in 1878, the railroad, timber, manufacturing, and mining industries are what brought development, infrastructure, and prosperity. The legacy of these industries, however, also brought with them environmental degradation and a false sense of economic sustainability.
When these sectors declined, Duluth’s prosperity faltered. Unlike other Rust Belt cities, though, visionary leadership in the 1980s guided the way towards a shift to new industries, such as tourism, aviation, technology, and education. These industries place great value on a high quality of life and honor the natural beauty and resources that have always been a hallmark of our “Zenith City.”
Today, as national urban trends lean toward locavore eating, small business entrepreneurship, and green space recreating, it’s easily recognized that Duluth has already been nurturing these principles. The City of Duluth’s leadership knows that our future lies in fostering environmental and economic sustainability so that our prosperity is balanced and strong for generations to come.