One vision for a sustainable future

Last week, I wrote about the repercussions of what would happen if the city of Reno turned its back on West Street Market. This week, I offer my vision of a future world in which city projects like West Street Market are prioritized with respect for the environment and sustainable living.

It was another beautiful, sunny Reno day so once again our team decided to hold its client meeting out on the rooftop of our Second Street office building. Surrounded by the fountains and Russian sage of our rooftop patio garden, you could almost forget you were in the city, except for the light reflecting down from the windows of the Montage opposite us. That, and the shadows of our next door neighbor’s wind turbines slicing rhythmically across the sunlit buildings opposite the street. We managed to close the deal in record time and decided to head down to West Street to celebrate.

Ever since the city put in the wide sidewalks and trees, it’s been so much nicer to walk everywhere. Of course, it really helped funding came to restore the old Commercial bank building into shops and offices—well, all the buildings in this corridor, really. Old-timers tell us this all used to be tattoo parlors, gift shops, liquor stores and bars, but that’s really hard to imagine now. Our sandwashed brick building sits comfortably kitty-corner to that grand old columned stone marvel, the First National Bank of Nevada, now the tech portal for our communications library system. People were lining up for another workshop at the green living development center on the corner. It seems they have a guest speaker coming through town two or three times a month these days. Normally we’d stop to at least say hello, but Joe and Diane both had to catch trains out of town that night—Joe to do some consulting in the Bay Area and Diane to catch the bullet train for Vegas. It’s been so much easier to get business done in this state now that they have those three-hour trains running twice a day between Reno and Las Vegas. And I had an event to attend over at the Nevada Discovery Museum.

Stepped into the wine bar for our traditional bottle of Pinot on nights like this. A glass each, then we’d all be heading out our separate ways for the night: me on my bike, Nick to his condo across the street, McKenzie on the streetcar out to her family in the western quarter, Joe and Diane up to the train station on Commercial Row. The garden in the meridian was looking good again—ever since the schools adopted environmental education standards, classes tend gardens all over the city as part of their curriculum. It being fall, the tomatoes were just starting to ripen in their cages. Walking by, I broke off a sprig of lavender and crushed it up just to get the smell on my hands.

A bluegrass band was warming up in the courtyard, so we sat outside to listen. It had been a long day, but a good, productive one. We talked, as we so often do these days, about how glad we are to have moved the firm here. It was a really tough choice—Chicago had so many things going for it, except, of course, for the weather. Still, Joe had always wanted us to be in the Bay Area, and I have to admit, there were days when I had to agree with him. But ever since Nevada passed that Feed-in Tariff legislation, back in 2011, there really haven’t been too many relocation options for renewable firms like ours other than Reno. It just has too many great things going for it—great climate, culture, and this wonderful downtown area. Somebody told me once that this bar where we were sitting was actually part of the city’s turnaround. Hard to believe it could have happened any other way.

Note: Columnist Huntley is a board member and officer of Nevada EcoNet, a tenant of West Street Market. She also organized WSM’s weekly Outdoor Market for Sustainable Micro-enterprise.