Kentucky is a beautiful state with amazing people, countless ideas, & unlimited potential. Change is in the air. This is a defining moment for our beautiful state. Kentucky deserves an environment that provides opportunity for all. Are we preparing for the future or continuing the superficial decisions of the past, which lead this state into a subpar quality of life?
My question: Are the new policies & plans leading to Kentucky resilience, adaptation, or idleness? Kentucky is changing, along with the country & world, which is pressuring Kentucky’s ideology. Our antiquated views have prevented Kentucky from growing & developing into a leader.
Current policies & projects might, might create short-term solutions. However, these decisions are not long-term solutions! There are amazing activities happening in the state preparing us for long-term prosperity, but the state needs more. Ideas reaching across boundaries that will touch everyone in this great state.
To achieve success, solutions must emphasize five key strategies/objectives: (1) Absorb stresses & maintain function in the face of external pressures imposed by society, economy, & climate change. (2) Grow relationships that improve system’s efficiency, leaving it stronger & more prepared for future impacts. (3) Promotes equality throughout the state. (4) Addresses everyone in the state. (5) Solutions must be intertwined to create stronger progress.
For Kentucky to become a leader it must focus on four areas: (1) Infrastructure & Institutions, (2) Environment, (3) Health & Wellbeing, & (4) Habits, Behaviors, & Mindset.
- Infrastructure & Institutions
Our infrastructure & Institutions are lacking in numerous areas: outdated energy grid, below average educational system, fragile economy, & societies acceptance of others.
Kentucky the by the coal industry, which provides superficial hope for communities. Quality of life for coal communities are at a major disadvantage, e.g., lower life expectancy, higher asthma & allergy rates, lower educational rates, etc. Is a cheap source of energy worth sacrificing communities?
Our educational system is setting the population up for failure. How can we expect our children to thrive if we are not preparing them for the future? Adult services, i.e., trades, manufacturing, rehab services, are also areas needing help.
Solutions: We must update our infrastructure & Institutions to reflect where the state must go. Create an environment accepting of all cultures & provides equal opportunities built upon clean, renewable energy sources. No communities are left behind, including coal communities.
Invest, invest, invest, in Kentucky communities. Stronger communities equal a stronger Kentucky. We must invest in alternative, clean energy sources. Coal operations have left large surfaces of land ready for wind farms, solar farms, responsible logging, legal marijuana agriculture, etc. We also must invest in adult skills & the workforce throughout the state. Sustain current industries, but also invest in industries of the future. We must accept the coal industry is not coming back.
The environment is beautiful. We depend on it for everything. Unfortunately, we take it for granted. The air we breathe, water we drink, the soil we farm, the protection it provides, the sun rays that grow our food, health benefits, & the absolute impressiveness.
Environmental policies are a sensitive topic & climate change is even more polarizing. Personal opinions on the cause of climate change are irrelevant in the discussion anymore because the climate is changing & it will continue. Kentucky can either be proactive or reactive. Weather patterns are intensifying. Temperatures are increasing. Rain is arriving less frequently, but with more intensity. Floods are increasing. Tornados are increasing. Tree canopy loss is increasing. Population is increasing. More structures are being built. Animal diversity is being lost. Droughts are increasing. Air & water quality are not at healthy standards.
This is creating an environment not conducive for quality of life, which means more money spent on keeping our quality of life intact. These issues will continue to grow the demand on our systems, which are already overloaded. Agriculture practices, energy grids, water systems, & connectivity will weaken.
We need smart growth built around true sustainability solutions that work with the environment. Develop communities to withstand & give back creating urban sprawl that works with & for the environment. An atmosphere that as the population grows, so does clean, alternative energy.
Concentrate on capturing/storing/using rainwater & updating antiquated sewer systems. This will remove extra pressure on our water grid, improve the health of our waterways, & create cost savings. Improving the efficiency of the built environment. Older structures waste a lot of energy, which can be corrected by investing in energy efficiency. Invest in expanding green space & preserving the natural habitat.
- Health & Wellbeing
Kentucky’s geography is an obstacle working against us. We must understand & adapt our initiatives for improving quality of life. It applies to humans & the environment’s physical & mental wellbeing, social interactions, & environmental surroundings. Humans’ relationship with the environment is complex. We must understand the relationship between communities & their ecosystems. Earth allows communities the quality of life we enjoy. Subtle changes can offset the fine balance existing in nature.
Kentucky’s public health ranks in the bottom of the country is caused by human & environmental factors. Human factors: obesity, asthma, heart disease, mortality, smokers, gender equality, race equality, suicide, median household income, educational standards, & living conditions. Environmental factors: air quality, water quality, soil quality, urban sprawl, urban heat island, & opportunities. Part of the state is experiencing unmatched unemployment rates, weak economy, & slow job growth.
Solutions: Create an atmosphere where the role of social & health capital is bonding, bridging, & linking various aspects that responded & adapt to the pressures & strains of life in Kentucky. Understanding how human’s health is dependent on the relationship between urban/rural systems & the ecosystem. Also, understanding a healthy atmosphere involves humans, animals, & plants.
We must deliver high-quality care & improve public health for everyone in this great state, regardless of social economic situations. We need healthy Kentuckians.
- Habits, Behaviors, & Mindset
Changing our mindsets will be very difficult, but it’s the most important. However, it will be one of the easiest for people to change. We need to re-educate how we see our surroundings & everyday items. Our mindsets need to change from individualism to groupism, from wastefulness to effectiveness.
We continue to waste time & energy on inefficiency. Our ideology needs to change to accept that we have limited resources. Everything is designed for one life, a life destined for the landfill. Look around & see the wastefulness. Our junk, urban sprawl, & lifestyle are taking up valuable real estate. Building & land codes, policies, & lack of connectivity are holding this great state back. The lack of relationships existing between different communities & cities is not allowing this state to grow.
Solutions: We must understand the life cycle analysis of products & our behaviors. Design our lifestyles & products to be as efficient as possible by creating a new concept of materials & material flow. Rather than seeing materials as a waste management problem, recognize it as an opportunity. Design lifestyles & products that are safe, healthy, & high quality for an unlimited life.
Systems must be a closed loop cycle mirroring natural cycles allowing for circulating in an endless cycle of birth, recovery, & providing. At the end of their life products & systems will provide a natural flow of energy & nutrients, e.g., provide nutrients to soil, remove air pollutants, filter water, or support healthy habits.
We need to start asking ourselves the right questions: How can one solution improve multiple issues? What is the life cycle of our behaviors & products? Items need to be designed for multiple lives. Once the item has run its course it can dissolve back into nutrients supporting earth’s energy. We need a widespread awareness of our actions where concern about the environmental & social wellbeing will fuel a comprehensive thinking.
We need comprehensive solutions. We must address issues in Kentucky together, not individually. Implement grand, amazing solutions addressing multiple areas. Most importantly, everyone must be at the table to discuss how to improve communities by developing smart growth strategies.
We must change our mindset to resiliency, but understand adaptation is also part of the solution. The state needs strong, out of the box leadership. We need to think big, allow everyone at the table, & think long-term. Kentucky cannot be resilient to all risks, as change will likely be widespread & unanticipated. We must be capable of robust, adaptive solutions for when resiliency breaks down.
Kentucky has the potential, great ideas, & amazing people. To create a resilient state we must unite, channeling our energy into a unifying comprehension approach. Implementing policies focused on all people of Kentucky. Create strategies built for future growth, where all people of Kentucky are connected, united, & have equal opportunities.
When the general public unites, anything is possible.