Here is an excerpt of a speech Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation president, gave in Detroit to students along with university and community leaders at Wayne State University . (The video was originally broadcast on WTVS 56 Detroit Public Television -- and is presented here with their permission.)
Rodin discusses how philanthropies and universities can work with their local communities to leverage social change. She explains how the work of the Rockefeller Foundation in post-Katrina New Orleans and the revitalization of Philadelphia that she spearheaded as Presidentof the University of Pennsylvania relate to Detroit’s current revitalization plan.
In the late sixties and early seventies, Senator Nelson was ahead of his time in seeing the connection between our environment, our health, and our prosperity. He dreamed up Earth Day as a means of highlighting how we impact and interact with our environment. And Detroit’s unions presciently understood that conservation might somehow, someway, safeguard their jobs and their future.
Today, in a world of growing urbanization and dwindling resources, we know that Nelson and the unions were right. Issues of sustainability and conservation are much less about “tree hugging,” and much more about urban planning.
Because in the 21st century, a majority of our environmental impact and interaction will occur in, around, and because of our cities. Put somewhat differently, our cities are increasingly the point of intersection for economic, social, environmental, and practically all the other pressing issues we face.
I would like to focus my remarks tonight on this interplay, and discuss with you how we can manage it for the benefit of our nation, of our planet, and of humanity.