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National Town Hall Opening Ceremony Detroit, MI

Carol M. Browner, Administrator Environmental Protection Agency
                 Remarks Prepared for Delivery
              National Town Hall Opening Ceremony
                          Detroit, MI

                          May 2, 1999
     Good evening everyone. And welcome to the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America!

     I think tonight is the beginning of an historic event. Gathered here tonight in Detroit are more than 2,500 government, business, community and religious leaders united by a common idea -- that we can build healthy communities, protect the environment and still nurture a climate that helps our local economies grow.

     We know these are goals in concert, not conflict.

     And tomorrow another 60,000 people will join with us here in Detroit's Cobo Arena by Internet or via satellite from more than 100 events across the country as we exchange ideas and demonstrate models of success for building these kinds of thriving communities.

     What do we mean when we talk about a sustainable community? It's simple. We're thinking of the future. We're thinking about how we can build our communities as places not just for our children to grow -- but their children, and their children after that.

     Let me give you an example of the kind of vision I am talking about. In 310 B.C. the Romans set out on an ambitious plan to build aqueducts. The system they built supplied Rome with 38 million gallons of fresh water per day.

     And do you know what? Some of them still work -- after more that 2,000 years, some of those aqueducts still work, providing water to the fountains of Rome. Wouldn't everyone in this room like to think that something you did in your lifetime would be marveled at in the centuries to come.

     Well, you can. Think about this for a minute. A group of you here today could go back to your communities and start planning on how to take an abandoned, polluted brownfield and turn it into a park. And that park can last forever. The best thing about mother nature is that -- if cared for -- she has a nearly infinite design life.

     And hundreds of years from now, a family might be strolling through that park you helped build. They might marvel at the tall stands of trees, and the well designed footpaths that lead to green open spaces where neighbors gather on a nice spring day. And they might walk by
the dedication marker that was placed there on the park's opening day and say: "Wow! They really knew how to build them back in the year 2000 didn't they."

     This can be a legacy you leave not just in the new century -- now only 243 days away -- but to the century after that, and the century after, and on and on to the next millennium.

     And over the next four days here at the National Town Meeting we are going to learn how to build that legacy together -- for all our communities and their generations to come.

     In closing, I'd like to thank the members of the committee for all their hard work.  And I would like to particularly thank Mayor Archer for the warm welcome he has extended to all of us and for his tireless work in support of this National Town Meeting.

     Mayor Archer has been one of our nation's leaders in the livability movement thanks to his work in revitalizing this great city.  You know, Detroit was founded in 1701 -- so it already has nearly 300 years of history behind it. And thanks to Mayor Archer, I believe Detroit will thrive in the century to come.

     Mayor Archer.