Tylene Levesque

LEONARDO DI CAPRIO to Build "Eco-Town" in Kansas

by , 07/23/07

Tornado Damage in Greensburg, Kansas, Discovery Communications, Planet Green Channel, “Eco-Town”, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sustainable Building

Discovery’s new eco-lifestyle channel Planet Green is partnering with actor and avid environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio to help launch the channel early next year with a touching environmentally-friendly project. DiCaprio is set to executive produce “Eco-Town,” a 13-part reality series which will follow state and local officials in their quest to build an ecologically—and economically—sustainable town in Kansas, aptly named Greensburg.


The series will document the green rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas, a small town that was leveled by a devastating tornado on May 4th. Environmentally friendly, energy efficient materials and technology will be used to reconstruct the hundreds of homes and businesses damaged by the storm in hopes of encouraging many of the 1,500 residents to return home. We’re eagerly waiting to see what other green programs Planet Green has in store for us.

+ Reuters

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49 Comments

  1. blairelight blairelight July 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    oops! I meant to write:
    April 5, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Cool Dome Homes !

    Geodesic Domes are…

    • Energy efficient
    • Engineered for heavy snow/ high winds
    • Highly portable
    • Instant six-story building in one day
    • Open floor plan
    • Nature’s own geometry
    • Energetically harmonic

    This is my dream home!

  2. DamianTBI July 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I wonder how far along has the project come along??

  3. blairelight blairelight April 5, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Cool Dome Homes!

    http://www.pacificdomes.com/eco_living_domes.html

    Domes are…

    • Energy efficient
    • Engineered for heavy snow/ high winds
    • Highly portable
    • Instant six-story building in one day
    • Open floor plan
    • Nature’s own geometry
    • Energetically harmonic

    My dream home!

  4. zack58 August 4, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Looking to see if anyone is interested in investing in a green recycling plant using solar energy and solar green houses, If so please let me know, Thanks

  5. exclusivejules August 3, 2008 at 8:32 am

    i live 50 miles from Greensberg & i am telling you the town is completely gone. wiped off the map. the survivors that are choosing to rebuild cannot recieve enough assistance. never seen anything like it in my life & never want to again. God bless.

  6. Annelle Holloway July 25, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    As i read the various comments on this site I am truly amazed and horrified by the ignorance and lack of compassion expressed by many. As someone born and raised in the town of Greensburg, I can only barely begin to imagine what these people, many of whom were and are friends, as well as the family I still had there when the tornado hit. So how can so many people who have never lived through nor even seen a tornado presume to pass judgement on this small and close knit community who are valiantly struggling to put their lives back together after this type of devastation? What is painfully embarrassing Shaqueefa, is to read comments like yours and some of the others, that know nothing of what they speak. As for rebuilding in \”tornado alley\” I suppose your suggestion is for several states to completely relocate, right? And I guess we should also relocate anyone living in a flood area, wildfire area, and any other \”area\” that could be destroyed by a natural disaster. Maybe they could all live together somewhere safe, like a large city that could possibly be hit by another suicide bomber, right? Not that it matters where your family is, where you call home, or where your generations of family are buried. Just leave, right? Anyone that had the courage and compassion to come forward, step up, and help these people is to be blessed and commended. Whatever their reasons are, they helped. Did you? And to all the people that have helped and continue to help in whatever way is possible, thank you is not near enough. And to the rest of you that think this \”rural\” little town should just give up, you might want to thank them the next time you eat any bread, because these disposable people you are so willing to throw away, provide a great deal of the food you purchase every day in your \”worthwhile\” communities. People like the ones in Greensburg, have what this nation was founded with, courage. They simply want their lives back, and are willing to work hard to get that. It\’s a shame that there are so many others out there that are not willing to give, not even of their blessings and best wishes. People like that are the ones that truly need compassion. The people of Greensburg will rebuild, with or without the help of others. Luckily they do have the help of others, just not people like you. I truly hope you doubting Thomas\’ are never faced with this type of devastation, because with your mindset, you would never recover. Quitters never do.

  7. Ericka June 19, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Keep up the good work Leo!!!!!!!

  8. Ericka June 19, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I truely think this is a great project not only for the people who lost their homes in the tornado but also for all of the ” city” folk who will tune into the show. I think it will be a great awakening for all the people who don’t understand the importance of growing your own food and using more ecofriendly things to help make Earth a healthier place. I am very interested to see how Leo DeCaprio leads this mission to create Greensburg!

  9. Inhabitat » Plane... June 6, 2008 at 5:01 am

    [...] a massive tornado leveled Greensburg, KS and rebuilding efforts have hit full swing since Inhabitat last reported. If you’ve been wondering what all the buzz is about, you’ll soon get an inside look at [...]

  10. survivor January 26, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Unless you actually live through it, you cannot begin to understand it. As a fourth generation resident of Greensburg and having lived through the devastation of this monster storm, I am so grateful for the outpouring of assistance that came immediately and has been here ever since. It has been humbling to know so many want to help. In spite of looters, poor contractors taking advantage of us, long distances to our town, few accomodations and lack of comforts of every kind, volunteers managed to persist in enormous undertakings for months and months. We are strong and self-sufficient, but we appreciate the help, whether physically or monitarily, of so many who care.

    We are not going to easily leave our roots and history, we have businesses and land here as well as memories, we are going to start over and build upon what we have left and not give up and leave because things have gotten tough. Only a very few left permanently, and those were usually those too elderly to start all over in life or those who had no job left to go to. Those of us remaining are struggling with all there is to do personally as well as business-related. The town was not completely destroyed, there are still homes surviving here. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it if we can show the world how to start being “greener” in some small way. We hope people will learn from what we do, can enlarge the scale and keep it going. It will by no means be perfect, nor will it be a total change, but it is a start. Each step we take will be copied somewhere else. This is what the Discovery Chanel is trying to document, the learning process, the experimentation, the efforts to improve that we go through on a daily basis. There is no way to recover quickly, it will take years of small steps, patient and steady work. Television often makes it look like things are resolved in minutes, when reality is that it takes so very long to put the puzzle back together.

    We all thank Leonardo DiCaprio for his interest in us and his efforts to help document our progress. Don’t forget that there are many others that have not had their names in the headlines that are just as interested, powerful and forward-thinking concerning the future of a tiny village in Kansas and what it could mean to the entire nation. They have contributed just as much or more than Leo. He is just one of many interested in seeing what a new infrastructure can become with help, guidance and technology. No, it won’t be without a lot of cost and friction. But what will it mean to the coming generations of Americans? We hope to become a small step toward a better future, and people Like Leo are taking the initiative. What have YOU done to make that so? Have YOU stepped up and shown the world what a difference YOU can make?

  11. Marci December 27, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Kimberly, your post made me tear up a little. It is people like you that make me so proud to be a Kansan. I now live in Los Angeles, California but I can assure you that all of my family has helped one way or another to do what they can for Greensburg. The truth is that the job is too big for the community. Everyone is doing what they can and pulling together to be certain that this town has another chance. If a bigger entity wants to join that fight then I say by all means, let them help. Why would anyone begrudge a little town ,that was 90% destroyed mind you, some help and support? I was just in Greensburg a few weeks ago while I was home and I was shocked that their hospital is still 3 mash tents. Their schools are out buildings and their grocery stores are non-existent. It’s a sad situation and yet an amazing opportunity for re-growth and why not make it better than it was before by being an example of green living. I’m proud of southwest Kansas and I’m proud of this little town pulling themselves up by the bootstraps to rebuild.

  12. Landon December 27, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Bottom Line: A town was destroyed. It is now being rebuilt. This is a good thing.

    Cost: As technology improves, demand grows, and production becomes large scale, the price of green building will go down. Discouraging it because of price is counterproductive. If we took that mindset on everything, we wouldn’t have cars, tv’s, computers, or much of anything else.

    Greensburg: The word alley is misleading. If you look on a map that outlines tornado alley, you can easily see why relocation makes little sense. You are talking tens of millions of people. Also, this is the ideal type of place to do a project such as Eco Town. If you start from scratch in an undeveloped area, you are disrupting nature, which contradicts the mission. If you start in a developed and populous area, you will not be able to impact the entire system. Greebsburg is the best of all worlds. It is small enough to make undertaking the entire town feasible, and it is large enough to create a meaningful prototype (I apologize for calling a town a prototype. I’m not trying to be insensitive, but I don’t have a better word).

    DiCaprio: Come on guys, let’s give him a break. He believes in something, and he is pursuing it. If I had millions to promote a cause and the fame to bring awareness to it, I would. And I hope you would too. If someone donates $1000 dollars to a cause, we applaud him/her. If someone donates $1million, we ridicule him/her. I don’t get it.

    I may be wrong. The Eco Town project may be wrong. But the fact that they may be right, and the impact that them being right would have on generations to come, should encourage us all to be positive about this, and think of ways to make it work.

  13. Kimberly Jacobitz December 1, 2007 at 2:33 am

    In Response to the quote that follows from Kristi King:
    I just want to say, as someone who went to high school in Greensburg, and has lived there, and had family there for more than 20 years, and who also survived the tornado on May 4th with a barely 5 month old baby and 2 year old son…(A) you are just greatful that you lived to tell about it, and (B) you are so conscious and appreciative of everything that has been done, or IS being done for you and your family and the community, that things like this just have to be addressed.

    Kristi’s quote:
    I just returned from Greensburg earlier this evening. I was surprised to see there is still a LOT of cleanup to be done before anyone can even think about moving back there. Living in “tornado alley” my entire life (and still have never seen a tornado), I’ve seen many small Kansas towns devastated – Udall and Topeka in the 50s and 60s and, more recently, Hesston and Andover – by large tornadoes. But I’ve never seen the cleanup effort going as slowly as it is in Greensburg. Possibly because it’s not close to a large city (Hesston and Andover are both fairly close to Wichita) and there isn’t the volunteer efffort, being that far removed from a larger population.
    End Quote.
    Survivors of the tornado had me and my mother and children pulled out of the rubble and myself on an ambulance to Pratt within 15 minutes of the hit. Surrounding towns already had their emergency crews there, doctors and nurses stunned and dazed worked on the injured, and the Search and Rescue and cleanup crews were there within HOURS- and Kristi, if you had visited the town IMMEDIATELY following the tornado, you would have understood why the cleanup efforts are still ongoing. Nearly nothing existed in that town that had been there throughout it’s entire history, but the grain elevator and a few homes and structures. I watched crews move literally TONS and TONS of debris, as well as hundreds of cars, including my own, within the first few weeks. And the town I knew was BARON by June. There was NO LACK of volunteers, and you can check out the landfills in Kiowa county if it still doesn’t make sense. You really had to see to understand, that new gas lines, plumbing, electric lines, cables, etc… all had to be rebuilt. A new water tower also. You could not even begin construction until the debris was cleared out. People wonder why the fuss over a little dinky town when so many are homeless and what not in New Orleans. If you live in a town of 1500, how long do you think it would take your residents to clean up miles and miles of your town? We understand the losses many are suffering. My mother lives in a FEMA trailor now. Insurance paid for her house, but sure didn’t buy her a new one, and she is too old to start all over on mortgage on a newly built home. Rest assured, there are people out there who are going to make sure Marti Gras goes on and on, and people who will still build their homes next to the ocean regardless of the hurricanes. You have no idea how much the residents of Greensburg-a small farming community, who treasure their town and it’s history- appreciate every bit of help no matter how small. The folks who stayed, stay because they care about their neighbors, and have developed great relationships with them, and they deffinately know they can count on them after this experience. And to all of the MANY MANY volunteers who have helped with cleanup, and to those who are helping to prevent future losses such as this, A WORLD OF THANKS.

  14. Susan Fletcher November 27, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    I grew up 20 miles from Greensburg. It was one of the cleanest and prettiest small towns in Kansas before the tornado. I am absolutely thrilled that Leo DiCaprio and Discovery are partnering to help the residents of the town rebuild. I look forward to watching the show! Many thanks to everyone involved in this project!

  15. Vairon Perez September 12, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Greensburg Tornado Benefit Battle of the Bands Concert
    City Arkansas City
    Place Wilson Park Rotunda
    Address 710 N. Summit St. Arkansas City, KS 67005

    Details
    Saturday Setember 29th 2007 2pm until 11pm. This is an all ages fund rasing concert for the Greensburg Tornado Survivors. Raffle prizes, Food, Drinks, Music, and More. $10.00 minimum donation.

    Start Date Saturday, September 29, 2007
    Start Time 2:00 PM
    End Time 11:00 PM

    Additional Information Xit-Rite Records
    Jason Chase/Vairon Perez

    Phone 310-850-8234
    Email vairon_1@msn.com
    Web Address http://www.greensburgtornadobenefit.com

  16. Yes I'm Losing September 12, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    There’s more than just Leo trying to help. We’re a band from Oklahoma who is playing on September 29th in Arkansas City with 8 other bands to help raise money for the residents of Greensburg. You can see the effort here: http://www.greensburgtornadobenefit.com and our website is http://www.myspace.com/yesimlosing
    Hopefully the event raises awareness from an audience that may not care to click on the news or know how to help, but by dontating a minimum $10 at the gate can see a day of music, whilst helping at the same time.

  17. amber boyles September 2, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    I am 32years old and have lived in Greensburg all my life. I have 4 generations her and let me tell all of you until you go through what we went through you will never understand anything that is going on here. Some say my town was “Going downhill” some of you are just interested because a “famous actor” is involved. For whatever your reason is who cares…….Greensburg residents just want our town back the way it was and improvements would be nice but we don’t need the best. Greensburg has come a long ways since since May so like I said before if you are not here every day like I am do not assume you know what is really going on. Lots of people have said they were going to help but the most important help we have had were all those volumteers who came out and helped for nothing. They did not ask us for money or for fame……they did it out of love………If you don’t know what’s going on here don’t say you do!

  18. Lizzie August 29, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    It’s too bad more people aren’t stepping up and doing something to help bring awareness to the close minded!!
    We could sure use this thinking here in Tahoe. Our fire this summer will cause some severe damage to the Lake come spring run off time. Leo, your project rocks, and your way of thinking is right on. I hope you can influence whoever gets into office next year to promote projects like these and realize the importance of reducing global warming in all areas. Please contact me if I can lend a hand. I have been a registered Green for many years, and I fully support your efforts!!! savvy1313@peoplepc.com.

  19. Jessica August 27, 2007 at 9:43 am

    I think what Leo is going to be doing is a wonderful thing. But does anyone know the actual shooting dates? I have been checking online and cannot find it. If you know anything about him and Greensburg PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know. My email address is jesirey2003@yahoo.com. I do want to help anyway that I can but I am also a true Leo fan. I would appreciate any information.

    Thanks,
    Jessica

  20. Maura August 22, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Sheila,

    Hey – I would love to talk with you to learn more about your project. I am working on a prefab, low-cost green homes company, and am interested in hearing about the different options the town has considered for the project. You can reach me at mccarthy.maura@gmail.com. Or I will try to go through http://www.greensburggreentown.org to touch base with you. Thanks~

  21. Sheila S August 6, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Everyone. I’m a sustainable MBA student who has spent the last 9 weeks working with the green recovery effort in Greensburg. I can tell you that there was never any doubt about the town being rebuilt (other than the doubt the media conjured). Before the storm, Greensburg experienced the same problems that most Midwestern towns experience, especially a shrinking population and lack of jobs. Immediately after the storm, several people, including the Mayor and Governor indicated they would like to rebuild green (this is why I came here for my summer vacation). Even though we’re in the middle of a very rural, conservative area, people here – even during this very emotional time – have had the vision to see that rebuilding in a way that makes sense for the future is the only way to rebuild. They are very open to a green town when green is presented in a way that appeals to the conservative, down home values here.

    We were all surprised when the Discovery/DiCaprio press release came out announcing this. Everyone was excited, but somewhat fearful about creation of drama for the show. Then Discovery came to a City Council meeting, talked with residents, and assured the Council and Mayor that the citizens and City would have all the control over how the town is rebuilt – Discovery would not mess with the process, just document it, and help to bring resources (through their sponsors, other shows, etc) to which Greensburg might not otherwise have access. This is seen here as a really great thing for the future of Greensburg.

    The nonprofit that I helped start here in Greensburg could use all of your help, because I can see you all have an interest in the sustainable recovery. We are called Greensburg GreenTown, and we provide the information and resources on anything “green” to the people on a 1:1 basis when we can, so they don’t have to be on their own, trying to learn about one more thing while they’re trying to rebuild their lives and cope. We need green designers, builders, and people who understand green living and green businesses, in general, to partner with locals here who are interested in embracing green.

    We are trying to offer incentives for green businesses and homes, to help cover the premium (if any) of building efficiently. (In this low-income area, upfront costs can be inhibitive, coupled with the fact that most people had insurance to cover the value of their homes, not the replacement value.) The program is in place, all we need is funding. Donate to this program through our PayPal account at info@GreensburgGreenTown.org.

    Also, if you have any other questions about what is really happening here, what it’s like to live in a FEMA trailer, or want to offer words of support, I’d be happy to connect anyone with real residents here. Contact us through our website at http://www.GreensburgGreenTown.org. Thanks!!

  22. Inhabitat » COULD... August 6, 2007 at 4:41 am

    [...] are a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by leveled Midwestern towns like Greensburg, Kansas. But the sheer power they wield, it turns out, can also be harnessed for good, potentially powering [...]

  23. Kristi August 6, 2007 at 12:32 am

    Ken – You made some very valid points, but it is late and I need more time to look this over and think about it a little before responding. Otherwise, I may end up writing more of what might be perceived as being “sugar-coated PC fluff”. Just wanted you to know I had read it and plan to respond at a later date. Thank you – KK

  24. Ken Morrison August 4, 2007 at 12:16 am

    Very honest disclaimer:
    Kristi: If I interpreted parts of your post wrong, I am truly sorry. It honestly felt like a sugar-coated attack at a town of true survivors:

    Referring to July 29 post by Kristi King:

    Please, please, please do not pretend to be the spokesperson for our region. Most of us throughout the country have seen devastating things happen to small communities. Like you, I’ve lived through a few. Two very bad floods; one very bad tornado. Neither were Greensburg’s level of devastation but they were bad enough where many people left, business decreased, tax-base plummeted. You may visit Greensburg, but I assume you aren’t “connected” with many of them, or you wouldn’t bring political history into it. I have seen how towns come to together and make things work as communities consisting of people with many different opinions/backgrounds, as well as many outsiders who were previously unknown to any of the residents.

    When a group of people want to roll up their sleeves and help, (let them give a legitimate try before chalking it up as a doomed project because you think Greensburg people are old, back-ward thinking people who don’t watch TV or movies and don’t like outsiders. I am pretty sure that is what you were saying (sugar-coated PC fluff removed” see below.

    After almost exactly three months of doing whatever it takes to get through the day and week, please show some respect and forgive Greensburg residents for not being “forward thinking” enough for you.
    ————————–
    Kristi’s quote: “And like most rural and small towns in Kansas, the majority of inhabitants are elderly and most likely have never heard of Leo DiCaprio or the Discovery Channel.”
    Ken’s Thoughts: I am sure that many of the Greensburg residents can’t name all 53 KC Chiefs who are helping
    them out financially and by recruiting help, but I kind of doubt that it will have any bearing on their willingness to help generous help from athletic-celebrity strangers who want to help.

    For those who choose to remain or return, most of them are Republican and not very forward thinking. To have someone like Leo DiCaprio (a die-hard Democrat) and the Discovery Channel come in and throw their weight around may not go over so well with them.
    Ken’s Thoughts: I lost absolutely everything in 2 hours…My personal political views were NOWHERE on my radar for weeks following the flood.
    ————
    Please tell me where my blindspots are. I don’t want to sound like I know it all. I just get frustrated when Yahoo makes it sound terrible that it might take “as much as half a decade to return to normalcy.” That seems like a fairly reasonable time-frame to me.

    Sorry this is so long.

    Ken Morrison (Emporia, KS)

  25. velorna July 31, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    just lookn forward to seeing it all coming together. I wish i could be a part of it

  26. Shalin July 31, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    the location may or may not be ideal, but the concept of “just figuring it all out’ on a town-sized scale is a tremendous jump forward from just having a single “green/sustainable” home. To figure out how to “close the loop”, use/reuse waste, etc. for upwards of 5000 persons to live sustainable will have a huge impact domestically for our buying into progressive thinking.

    The location, due to the F5 tornado, seems like a bargain though. The specific solutions may not be cookie-cutter types for any/all geographic areas of the country or the world, but a lot will be learned. I’d consider this the a “real world” Biosphere type project. With Taiwan and San Francisco vowing to become waste-free by 2020, this is another fascinating idea and effort that a lot can be learned from.

    Certainly, however, accurate accounting for the carbon footprint, cradle-to-cradle lifecycle of products and raw materials, and realizing that there is no “away” when you want to throw something “away” will have to be taken into account. It will be imperfect, but it’s a challenge worth taking on.

    Best,
    Shalin

  27. Kristi King July 29, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I just returned from Greensburg earlier this evening. I was surprised to see there is still a LOT of cleanup to be done before anyone can even think about moving back there. Living in “tornado alley” my entire life (and still have never seen a tornado), I’ve seen many small Kansas towns devastated – Udall and Topeka in the 50s and 60s and, more recently, Hesston and Andover – by large tornadoes. But I’ve never seen the cleanup effort going as slowly as it is in Greensburg. Possibly because it’s not close to a large city (Hesston and Andover are both fairly close to Wichita) and there isn’t the volunteer efffort, being that far removed from a larger population.

    As for not rebuilding a town in “tornado alley” and the possibility of moving the residents to a safer area, it makes no sense. You would have to move them to a different state as all of Kansas (and the eastern half of Colorado) is in “tornado alley”. While it is true tornadoes can occur virtually anywhere, the geographical placement of Kansas (between the cool, dry mountain air of the Rockies and the warm, moist air that comes up from the Gulf) makes it especially susceptible to the large cells that form tornadoes. In addition, the openness of the high plains makes for ideal conditions for very large and powerful tornadoes to form – the kind that can stay on the ground for 1-2 hours and wipe out an entire town in a matter of minutes.

    There will be many factors in the rebuilding of Greensburg. Many of the residents have already relocated and have no plans to return. Experiencing and living through a tornado like the one that leveled Greensburg has a lasting effect on a person’s psyche, especially a child’s, and many people’s fears will keep them from returning. For those who choose to remain or return, most of them are Republican and not very forward thinking. To have someone like Leo DiCaprio (a die-hard Democrat) and the Discovery Channel come in and throw their weight around may not go over so well with them. And like most rural and small towns in Kansas, the majority of inhabitants are elderly and most likely have never heard of Leo DiCaprio or the Discovery Channel.

    In Greensburg’s defense, though, I understand that Leo’s interest in the project came only after hearing that Greensburg residents had already expressed an interest in rebuilding their town “green.” We can only hope that the residents have ample say in what happens to their town, that it doesn’t get overrun by over-eager activists and TV Producers with plenty of money to throw around. Lastly, while there may be many former residents who won’t return to the town, and possibly a few who have stayed will still leave, there will be others, like myself, who will seriously consider moving there because it will be one of the first totally eco-friendly towns built in America.

  28. Jon Prettyman July 27, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    I was in Greensburg shortly after the tornado as part of the relief efforts with AmeriCorps NCCC. I will be very interested to see how this turns out

  29. Elliott Lake July 27, 2007 at 1:34 am

    No, Greenburg will not be destined to be hit again and again. Tornadoes don’t particularly choose a specific dot on the map–they form up out of storm cells. which can form from the Gulf coast through into Manitoba and then off toward the Atlantic. Generally. They also happen elsewhere, if the weather conditions are just right. It is indeed more chancey to rebuild a low-lying coastal town, or a city in a floodplain, than any particular town in the Midwest.

    Forcing the erstwhile residents of Greenburg to live not in single family dwellings nor be car-centric would be silly for two reasons; first, if it’s too alien to them, they won’t want it, nor care for it (think of mega apartment complexes that suited town planners in the 60′s and the residents despised–I remember the film of the residents at a meeting on what to do with some of them when they became unlivable: “Blow them up!”)–
    —and second, in farm country (hello, Kansas), everything is far apart, there is no system of public transit from farm to farm, etc. Besides–rural folks can have a different type of green footprint; if you live on the farm, there’s no commute; if you have all the produce you want in your garden or at the local market, you’re not getting produce flown in from Chile, and if the farthest you ever travel (maybe in your life) is 50-100 miles, there’s not much freeway drive time.

    So cut them some slack for re-building an erased town, giving designers a clean slate to work from, di Caprio doing a project highlighting the work, and people from far away caring about the totally non-famous people whose lives were devastated in the matter of a few minutes.

  30. Let Leo Di Caprio Teach... July 25, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    [...] Inhabitat claims the new channel is going to be all about having an eco-lifestyle and environmentally friendly projects. The show “Eco Town”, for example, is going to follow state and local officials in a series to rebuild the tornado torn town of Greensburg, Kansas. The catch is that the new town will be environmentally friendly, sustainable, and economically feasible. [...]

  31. Cassie July 25, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    I agree with Bruce. Perhaps building this “Green Town” in the rural/declining America is not the greatest idea. Were census tracts looked at, was the community growing, will this only cause more building and sprawl in the area, how will they rebuild the industry that provided jobs for the communtiy, or will new industry not meet the skill sets of the existing residents and force them to move anyway? I hope the planners/builders/architects are looking at a big picture, not just jumping the celebrity band wagon. Just because it is “green” and built in a television series, doesn’t mean the residents will want to return to what will more than likely turn into a tourist destination. Are they building something to fail? Does anyone know of any precedent where entire communties have been built as proposed?

  32. Cassie July 25, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Yipee!! First they adopt babies from other contries now they build their own towns. How posh!

  33. royalestel July 25, 2007 at 8:29 am

    As long as they’re not giving the reconstructed homes and businesses away, they’ll probably do just fine. Not great, okay.

  34. rek July 25, 2007 at 8:03 am

    I bet they still build it on the model of every family getting its own individual building disconnected from the rest, tonnes of single-use structures, car-centricity in some form or other, and lots of angular ugly prefabs…

  35. Erik van Lennep July 25, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Are there not geographic and landform, as well as weather conditions that create “tornado alleys”. Excuse my ignorance on that, but I do know certain areas seem to have more than their fair share of tornadoes, unlike lightning strikes which less commonly repeat in the same spots.

    So if in fact, this is a town likely to be hit again and again by tornadoes (and they seem destined to increase in strength along with other storms ), would not the most sustainable solution be to relocate the town to less of an “alley”?

    You say it’s relatively small, and was not exactly thriving before anyway. A greener town could posibly be situated elsewhere for the inhabitants, and the former site sown with native prairie grasses and forbs, and turned into a tornado park – - – the way flood plains are now being set aside in some communities as floodable green spaces.

    It should be fairly easy to think further ‘outside the box’ on this one, the box has been shattered and strewn across the landscape already.

  36. Bryce July 24, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    As a Kansan, I’m looking forward to seeing this. Cost is going to be an issue. Greensburg was not really considered to be a thriving place before the tornado. So putting resources into a place that was seeing continual population decline (like many other parts of rural America), will be a tough sell.

    One of the things I’ve observed about this part of the world is that there are some very strong beliefs about what constitutes a home, and they often tend toward the traditional. So it will be very interesting to see the interaction of Greensburg residents with out-of-towners who might well have very different ideas about how the resurrected town should be.

    Finally, regarding the tornado alley reference. A tornado is somewhat like lightening. They can happen anywhere when the weather is right. They are, in some ways, much less dangerous and destructive than hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. It is also important to consider the population of Greensburg, it’s rather small. While perhaps being in a place that has some adverse and hostile weather, the footprint there is rather small. I would question the sustainability of Miami, New Orleans, LA, San Francisco or New York City in the face of natural disaster long before I would small towns of the Great Plains. All of those cities are in the way of far more predictable catastrophes than any city or town in Tornado Alley.

    Hopefully the focus will be on smart, cost effective, and culturally sensitive (to Greensburg residents) ways to green up an aptly named small Kansas town.

  37. Richie July 24, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Richie here again… Sorry about bad UR:LS. Here they are: http://www.monolithic.com … and: http://www.calearth.org

  38. Richie July 24, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Clearly… in a place that’s already been leveled by a massive Tornado, serious design consideration MUST apply to the structures that are built. Monolithic Domes (of Italy, Texas) and Earth Bag ( http://www.cal-earth.org ) construction come to mind. What will withstand tornados is THE significant issue… not how Green it is.

  39. Sean July 24, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Are there still people in the Gulf States that need homes? Why Kansas?

  40. Christopher P. July 24, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    As an urban planner who has contact with some of Leo DiCaprio’s other efforts, I vouch for the sincerity and production acumen attached with his name. This will obviously be a “cast of thousands” of production workers, in front of if not behind the cameras ( remember DiCaprio is just doing a documentary not necessarily building…altho he may follow in Michael Moore’s wake and put officials on the spot, and maybe focus on a builder or two, HE is not rebuilding the town…) OR Think of it as building a movie set with better construction standards. Now, the big question is, when building an “environmentally friendly” New Town in a hostile environment like Tornado Alley, will it be truly sustainable? Does everybody get a cellar shelter (or accessible neighborhood shelter), will the public utilities be undergrounded, will the weather warning system be state-of-the-art? Will the “pre-fab” not be glorified mobile-home park construction, subject to even more horrendous tornado damage (if that is possible)? Will FEMA/OHLS not screw up the support for this effort? These will be subjects of Discovery/DiCaprio’s documentary….

  41. melissa July 24, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    and if DiCaprio is going to put up some of the funds then great! if I know anything about trying to advocate anything green it always comes down to cost. If we can showcase (and Leo for sure has the means and resources to do so) green as an economically viable environmentally conscious project then I am all for it. my only caution would not to forget the other factor in the green triangle, social responsibility. it sounds good from the get-go, working for people who are in need, however lets hope it the series doesn’t exploit hardship of the families like Ty Pennington’s ‘Extreme Makeover: home edition’.

  42. Carlotta Eland July 24, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Hurray for anyone that is helping to make the world a better place. Actors are people too. They have just as much right as anyone to become involved in something that interests them. If he can use his fame to spur interest and further support, so be it.

  43. Felice July 24, 2007 at 10:35 am

    Hey “Tyler” – if that’s your real name – I agree with the point of your post, but I don’t know what planet you live on but Shaqueefa is as real or adpoted a name as Tyler.

  44. mh2 July 24, 2007 at 10:35 am

    this will be interesting- rockhill already practices this in Lawrence, KS. i would love to see the “rock” on the tube, that’s entertainment!

  45. Hettie Jordan-Vilanova July 24, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Whatever DiCaprio’s motives…filming the process provides an extraordinary learning opportunity for everyone. Rebuilding this community will require collaboration and dedication, the designers, landowners, community leaders, as well as the building trades involved have a great deal to gain from watching the successes and failures of this effort.

  46. Holly Kallman July 24, 2007 at 8:11 am

    If DiCaprio’s name (as executive producer-not designer, y’all) brings awareness to teens for example, then bravo Leo. I teach architecture to NYC teens who do not know how food is produced, have never heard the term ecological footprint, and discern no correlation between their behavior and environmental concerns. I do not advocate doom reports and fear tactics, but awareness, responsibility and empowerment in the face of global changes.

  47. Tyler July 23, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    It is painfully embarrassing to see people leave negative comments under false names. Alright “Shaqueefa”, so you’re turned off because DiCaprio’s name is attached to the project, but what planner/designer/architect in their right mind wouldn’t love a completely blank slate to rebuild a sustainable community? I start salivating at just the thought. At the very least this will hopefully encourage other developers to embrace the same building techniques.

  48. D July 23, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    It will be interesting to see where this goes with cost. Will it be affordable for the previous residents of this town to return after the upcoming green makeover?

  49. Shaqueefa July 23, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    It is painfully embarrassing to read tripe like this.

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