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Planning & Design

Community is vital to sustainable and green redevelopment

22 Jun 2009, by Informa Insights


A vision of sustainability and an ambition to be 21st Century pioneers led to the successful rebuilding process in Greensburg.

The Kansas city was destroyed by a tornado in 2007 but it became an opportunity to rebuild it from scratch with “green” initiatives, Mayor Bob Dixson said.

“The decision to build back green was a decision that really came from our ancestors as being pioneers in the mid west of America,” he said. “We felt like we had the opportunity now to be the new pioneers of the 21st Century.”

Mayor Dixson will be an international keynote speaker at the Green Planning and Development conference in Melbourne on June 29 and 30. His address will deal with Greenburg’s experiences of sustainable development and how it can guide the rebuilding and recovery of Australian communities devastated by natural disasters.

One of the initial challenges faced by the city was gathering the large amounts of information available, Mayor Dixson said.

“There is just a myriad of information and we needed to gather as much as we could so we could present our citizens with solid information about how they could build back green and sustainable and as a community, we were able to utilise those resources and our government agencies were also very helpful in assembling those resources.”

Funding for the city’s restoration came from both the Federal and State of Kansas, private donations, corporate donations and insurance.

Mayor Dixson said the key to Greenburg’s successful rebuilding process was the fact the community worked together in creating a master plan for sustainable development.

“The next milestone was seeing things like the new water tower going up which not only offered fire protection, but was a beacon of hope sticking up in the air that ‘yes we are coming back’,” he said. “Seeing residents able to build their houses back was highly critical in that encouragement and hope for the future.”

Mayor Dixson said those affected by the Black Saturday bushfires needed to work together as a community to achieve a sustainable development.

“In the midst of a disaster when you lost everything, it matters not your socio-economic status. The only thing you have left when it’s all done is your relationship with each other and those are the relationships that we cultivate and those processes that lead us to the rebuilding.”

To arrange a media pass, request more information or arrange speaker interviews at the Green Planning and Design Summit please contact:
John Wilson on 02 9080 4107 or

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