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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The New and Improved Green is Good

About three weeks back yours truly relocated from the Golden Triangle of Pittsburgh to the Research Triangle of the Raleigh Durham region. Here in Chapel Hill, home of your NCAA National Champions, I join fellow blogger and entrepreneur James Dillard, an UNC alum and non-profit director who has been blogging here at Green is Good since the fall of 2008. James and I have already begun scoping out the best of the best of the Triangle's clean tech startups and champions of sustainability. We're hoping to add some entusiasm to the movement for a more sustainable Triangle region.

The Golden Triangle, Pittsburgh, will continue to be covered by "Green is Good," thanks to blogger and tech professional Cara Jette, a New England native who three years ago adopted Pittsburgh as her new city. I got to know Cara through reading, commenting, and debating over at her great blog, "Pittsburgh is a City," where Cara blogs frequently about all that is great about Pittsburgh, in addition to some great ideas on how to make Pittsburgh a more transit and sustainability oriented town. Welcome aboard Cara!

With the blog now covering two regions in Pittsburgh, a city that has been writing the book on how cities should reinvent themselves, and Raleigh Durham, a region on the move that is centered around a 50 year old research park rather than an actual city, it should be an interesting look at how the two regions not only compare with one another but compete in the race to create green jobs and build a 21st century clean energy economy.


MH said...

"...it should be an interesting look at how the two regions not only compare with one another..."

Advantages of the Durham:

Can buy wine in Whole Foods.
Can buy beer pretty much anywhere.
Lower taxes.
Higher salaries.
Fewer potholes.
Closer to nicer parts of the ocean.
Better diner (Elmo's).
Better bakery (Mad Hatter).

Disadvantages of Durham:

Enough pollen to make a rock sneeze.
Miserable summer weather.
More crime.
No good, cheap, Italian food.
Their robber barons didn't swipe as much old arts as Pittsburgh's.
You can get arrested (not just cited) for driving more than 10 miles over the speed limit, especially if you don't sound local.
Too many UNC fans.

Schultz said...


You're talking about Durham, which has a population of about 250k out of the region's 1.6 million. What is unique about this area is that Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill have have their own strengths and uniqueness. I live in CH, so I don't know Durham all too well yet but the times I've been there it seems to be very diverse, with parts that are very urban while others are more rural. The region has it's share of arts even though they never had a Carnegie or a Frick down here. All three quadrants have plenty of parks, trails, and green space, and while there is a good bus system between Chapel Hill and Durham (CH residents can ride the buses for free) this region is far too car dependent. At least when I lived in the South Hills I could commute via light rail everyday, here I won't have that option for at least another 5 to 10 years as long as voters approve a half cent sales tax this fall, which would fund the options in the regional transit plan, which includes rapid bus lanes, light rail between CH and Durham and Cary and Raleigh, and commuter rail between Durham, RTP, and Raleigh

While I believe that Pittsburgh's challenges include a lack of political will, the challenge here is that you have three main cities, three main universities, in three different counties, all with their own unique needs and agendas. Even though Raleigh is the bigger (close to 400k population) of the three as well as the state capital, there is no one single center of power and decision making for the region. I am still learning how sh!t gets done around here because even with the lack of coordination getting around down here is surprisingly very efficient. The other day I was told that the way it gets done is to include RTP and the airport in the mix since all three counties and cities have a stake in those entities. So far it is very easy to get around these parts. That could change if the region adds one million people over the next two decades, as expected, and doesn't approve the tax for the transit initiative.

James D - what are your thoughts on RAL-DUR-CH and how it compares to the burgh (James is a Pittsburgh native).

MH said...

I avoided Raleigh whenever I could (I-40 is worse than the parkway), but I knew Durham and Chapel Hill very well. Chapel Hill is such a concentration of wealth that it doesn't seem fair to compare it to Pittsburgh, so I used Durham.

My impression was that the three counties were better able to coordinate their actions that the various municipalities within Allegheny County can coordinate theirs. But, yes, there is very little transit. I was in the south part of Durham and no bus ran within a mile of my house. But, parking was free, gas was cheap then, so it never occured to me to try transit.

Schultz said...

Chapel Hill is affluent for the most part but it is very comparable to Pittsburgh's east end. Like parts of the East End and other college towns it is very liberal, although not as left as Carrboro. The more rural parts of CH(where I live)is similar to USC in Pittsburgh, although I don't notice too many Republicans around here.

I-40 is worse than the parkway? I disagree. First, I-40 is 3 or 4 lanes, depending on where you are. Second, there aren't any tunnels to slow down traffic. While I-40 does have some congestion around RTP and downtown Raleigh during rush hour it's no where near as bad as the parkway west or east in the burgh. Like I said above, it will get pretty bad as more people move to the Triangle area.

MH said...

I-40 was always under construction when I was there, so it certainly could have gotten better.

As for Chapel Hill being similar to the east end, I don't see how that is possible since the east end isn't a separate political unit and the city uses the east end the same way a vampire bat uses a sleeping cow.