Horizons newsletter by Envision

Click here for the November 2022 Horizons Newsletter by Envision. Board member Heidi Selberg comments on the social safety net and social mobility in the US, Board member and Executive Director of Wello Natalie Bomstad enlightens us on the results of the 2021 Wello Community Health and Well-Being survey, Board President Phil Hauck offers new perspectives on managing health care costs, and our fall 2022 Strategic Foresight cohort is introduced.

The Mantra of Individual Responsibility – holding us back?

Heidi Selberg, Board Member Envision Greater Green Bay

Research on upward mobility shows that other western countries have greater rates of upward mobility than the United States.  This is often attributed to those countries’ policies of offering more plentiful social supports.  Further, it’s often asserted that the culture of personal responsibility and self-reliance in the United States is a significant barrier to providing the kinds of social supports present in other countries. 

A front-page article in the Sunday, October 9, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel outlines this argument through a healthcare lens.  It’s surprising to see this position outlined in a major daily newspaper–one that is the largest and considered to be the most influential newspaper in Wisconsin.  Healthcare reporter Guy Bolton and reporting intern Alexa Jurado discuss the impact of constrained resources on health. They note the difference in public support for high-tech treatments versus the cost of providing safe and stable housing, and the growing view of healthcare leaders that more needs to be done to provide social supports. Read the full article here.

We Can Weather the Storm

When Hurricane Ian decimated the west coast of the Florida peninsula in late September 2022, virtually wiping out Ft. Meyers, the community called Babcock Ranch, to its immediate north, came through with hardly a scratch. How could that be? Apparently the community was designed for success – by former Green Bay Packer lineman, Syd Kitson of Kitson and Partners! It was meant to accommodate Florida’s climate and ecosystem, offering some forward-thinking features:

  • indigenous plants and natural waterways for drainage 
  • built 25 to 30 feet above sea level to help mitigate flooding from storm surges  
  • sustainable water and sewage systems 
  • all electric and phone lines buried 

Interviewed on 60 Minutes, Kitson said, “We are the first solar-powered town in America. We have a solar field that’s 150 megawatts.” The solar field “features a massive solar array of 700,000 panels, built by Florida Power and Light. Those panels withstood Ian’s brutal beating.

“There’s a lot of water, but you don’t see a single panel that’s been dislodged. And there was quite a bit of wind that came through here over the last few days,” Kitson reported. “Gusts of over 150, and it did not take a single panel out of here, which is really just remarkable.”

Babcock Ranch community was planned to be the first solar-powered city in the country, expecting to have the world’s largest solar power array when completed. Commercial buildings and homes were designed to be energy efficient and constructed to the standards of the Florida Green Building Coalition. A tech center with an emphasis on research and development for clean energy was a key feature at Babcock Ranch from the outset.

The message is clear: Instead of climate denial, Syd Kitson has capitalized on climate change in his development. Now, through proof of his success, he has the opportunity to maximize his growth on real estate development – a huge win for him and his home owners, whose equity increased nearly overnight due to his foresight in development. This is a prime example of a foresight strategy – out of the box early.

Learn more here: Babcock Branch Real Estate  and “Babcock Ranch: Solar-powered “hurricane-proof” town takes direct hit from Hurricane Ian, never loses electricity