Greensburg, Kansas: Extraordinary Transformation


John Picard is a sustainability expert, TreeHugger guest contributor, and consultant for the City of Greensburg, Kansas. A 13-part series about Greensburg, which was leveled by a tornado and is being rebuilt green, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, will air on Planet Green television beginning in June.

Right now in nearly the exact geographic center of the continental United States a town in America’s heartland is rebuilding from scratch after a taking a direct hit from a category 5 tornado. All that was left were the sidewalks and the underground sewer lines. That effort merits a story in itself but what makes it even more noteworthy is that the people of Greensburg, Kansas have chosen to move from ordinary to extraordinary...Imagine a community for 1500 people designed as a state of the art working model for green building and energy, hybrid design efficiency and genuine intelligent design. A community that generates revenue by producing excess energy, has superior air and water quality, and a world class infrastructure that enables and enhances the very essence of community. A community that quite simply is a better place to grow, work, live and raise families, and that shows that when humans do our very best work that we are simply amazing and in fact, a force of and for nature in our own right. That's what Greensburg, Kansas is set to become. (For more on Greensburg's events see their blog).

The most notable discoveries I've made in my own life are the ones that have allowed me to find contentment. Not surprisingly, my satisfaction on a personal level has pretty much paralleled and grown in tandem with the substance of my professional life. For myself, and I suspect most people, consciously or unconsciously we just can’t feel good about ourselves unless we feel good about what we're doing with our lives. And at the point we begin doing something special, well that's how we begin to feel about ourselves. And that may end up being the most exciting thing about Greensburg, maybe even more than its resurrection and the distinction of being an "ecotown" or becoming the city that changes the way America looks at building and boosts the ongoing revolution in the construction industry. The people of Greensburg are onto something special. Every bit the pioneers that their forbearers were 200 years ago when they first landed on the prairie, I suspect their own transformation will be even more remarkable than the one in store for their town.

more about Greensburg, Kansas
President Bust to Speak at Greensburg, Kansas Graduation
Introducing Daniel Wallach of Greensburg, Kansas
The CBS Early Show in Greensburg
Planet Green Greensburg Fan Site
John Picard is a guest contributor to TreeHugger. Read more of his columns here.