The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Building a "Blue Economy" in the Great Lakes Region?

While on my hikes, I don't just explore the long stretches of sandy beach. Nope. I have hiked the most industrialized corridors on the lakes and connecting rivers.

I hiked through the south side of Chicago, through Whiting and Gary, Indiana on my first hike.

And through Toledo and the entire length of the Detroit River -- including River Rouge, Ecorse, and the city of Detroit -- on my hike last year.

Industry on the Maumee River (which flows into Lake Erie)

The Rouge River flows into the Detroit River

These abandoned industrial sites are slowly being cleaned up, and reclaimed for new uses. An old factory in Milwaukee is undergoing a transformation and starting a new life as a hub of innovation.

"Now [the factory] is getting a makeover and a new mission. It will reopen this summer as a hive of business experimentation swarming with scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. They'll share a lab where new technologies can be tested. Office suites will host startup companies, including one devising a system for cultivating algae as biofuel, another producing a type of pavement that lets rainwater seep into the ground instead of flooding sewers.
The center is part of a broader effort unfolding across the Great Lakes region to regain lost prosperity by developing a "blue economy" — a network of industries that develop products and services related to water, from pump and valve manufacturers to resorts offering vacations along redeveloped lakeshores."

Abandoned industry on the Detroit River

  I like that. A new "Blue Economy" based on the abundance of fresh water in the region. Water that has been taken for granted for so long may now be the economic engine for a bit of a renaissance.

Abandoned building on the Detroit River

It's certainly time that we respect these waters and the abundant life that teems within these vast lakes when we care for them.
And if we build a part of our economy around these waters, maybe respecting our Great Lakes will even be the prevailing attitude within this new industry.

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