3 Cities, 3 Great Food and Fuel Projects

Apr 22nd, 2013 | By Nicole Rogers

In a recent post, we highlighted Houston’s One Bin For All program, one of the winners of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, which awards $9 million in prizes to five cities that “generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life–and that ultimately can be shared with cities across the nation.” Now that the five winners of the Mayors Challenge have been announced, we would like to check in on some of the runners-up. Hillsboro, Oregon; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Knoxville, Tennessee all proposed programs addressing fuel and food issues in their communities. All three cities plan to continue work on their proposed projects without the funding from the Mayors Challenge. Funding issues may slow the progress of these innovative programs, but it won’t stop them from working to make their cities better places to live and work!

We’ve compiled a quick summary of each project, along with each city’s video entry for the competition, to give you a better idea of what these city governments will be working on in the coming years.

City: Hillsboro, OR

Project Title: GoPoint Mobility Hub Program

Hillsboro is the fifth-largest city in Oregon, but also a suburb of Portland. The city’s GoPoint Mobility Hub project targets a common problem in suburbia — general dependence on automobiles for everything from commuting to running errands. GoPoint Mobility Hub would help citizens find alternative modes of transportation like carpools and bike rentals via smartphone, computer, or a GoPoint kiosk. GoPoint Mobility Hub aims to curb traffic congestion and make the community more sustainable.

The Hillsboro City Council already agreed to proceed with the program even if it did not win any funding in the competition, and according to the Hillsboro Tribune, “A number of businesses and community organizations have already agreed to partner on the project, including Intel, Kaiser Permanente, the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, the Westside Economic Alliance, the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition and Adelante Mujeres, which provides low-income housing support services.”

Watch Hillsboro’s video about the GoPoint Mobility Hub Program.


City: Knoxville, TN

Project Title: Urban Food Corridor

Knoxville’s Urban Food Corridor program aims to create working farms on formerly blighted, city-owned properties in Knoxville. The program plans to use these new urban farms to create commerce and attack food deserts by providing locally-grown produce to stores and restaurants as well as to soup kitchens and residents of areas that often lack affordable, accessible healthy food.

Even though it hurts to lose the finding that the Mayors Challenge would have provided, in a press release Mayor Madeline Rogero states that the city has already begun discussions with local partners to find other ways to put the program in place. Susanna Sutherland, who oversaw the Mayors Challenge application as director of the City’s Office of Sustainability, adds, “We designed this proposal so that the initial parts of it can be put in place by the City even without outside funding. We will begin work on those pieces, and we will also be looking for other possible sources of support.”

Check out Knoxville’s video about the Urban Food Corridor plan.


City: Milwaukee, WI

Project Title: HOME GR/OWN

Though Milwaukee wasn’t chosen to receive one of the five monetary awards from the Mayors Challenge, Milwaukee was named “Fan Favorite Runner-Up” in the contest, meaning they will receive a $50,000 services grant from IBM. Milwaukee plans to create targeted HOME GR/OWN Zones in which vacant lots are transformed into orchards, gardens, and small farms, and foreclosed homes are remodeled to become small-scale food processing centers and neighborhood nutrition education centers. According to the plan, these HOME GR/OWN Zones would increase property values, promote job growth and entrepreneurship in the city, and save taxpayer money on the upkeep of these unused lots. With powerhouse organizations like Growing Power and Resilient Cities already operating in the city, Milwaukee has a strong existing local-food infrastructure. Mayor Tom Barrett stated in his Huffington Post piece that HOME GR/OWN can help expand these groups’ existing efforts and inspire other entrepreneurs in the community.

According to Milwaukee’s HOME GR/OWN website, “HOME GR/OWN will live on despite the lack of Bloomberg Philanthropies start-up funding. The HOME GR/OWN team continues to work on details and logistics of a 2013 roll-out while we work with partners to identify supplemental sources of funding. Stay tuned!”

Learn more about HOME GR/OWN by viewing their video!


Sustainable America supports the spirit of all of these projects. Our nation’s food and transportation systems need creative plans like these to become more efficient, productive and sustainable. Sustainable America has set a goal to increase food availability in America by 50% by 2035 and to reduce oil usage by 50% by 2035, and innovative solutions like these will help us get there.

Tagged: sustainable farming, community agriculture, food supply, food security, building efficiency, community sustained agriculture, agricultural supply, fuel, transportation, Policy & Government

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