(This is a long one kids, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy)
Two architect students from the University of Kansas’ Studio 804, drive
4 1/2 hours to determine if Greensburg would be a viable candidate for
their annual project to build a house using architecture as a way of turning
around neighborhoods. They are concerned about committing here because of the
distance and time. Studio 804 is composed of 22 graduate students, all
graduating in May. The students go out and seek funding for the project, but
it seems they seek from the effected community itself, (gee, thanks). Back
at the University a Studio 804 meeting is held with the 22 students and their
professor discussing if Greensburg can really go that green, can the town
pull it off, the project’s not a charity, it needs funding, can the town
afford it, blah, blah, blah. They better do good because their arrogance
The Estes brothers own BTI John Deere dealership that took a direct hit and
was completely destroyed. 41 Combines, 15 or 20 tractors, gigantic equipment
tossed and broken like plastic toys. 5 days after the disaster the President
visited the devastated dealership. They are rebuilding green on the edge of
town. In fact, they’re opting to build LEED’s Platinum for the dealership
which is unheard of for a building that size.
Taylor, Levi, and Alexsis (Fleener), drive all over town picking up Christmas
trees to recycle into mulch. As Ben Arensman (Arensman Tree Service) says,
“there’s no reason to take something and burn it if you can make something
out of it”. The kids get to toss the trees into the mulcher and have fun just
doing their good green deed for the day.
Ron Shank owns the GM Dealership his family bought in 1973. The family
business was virtually destroyed by the tornado. Everyone at the dealership
lost their homes. But the morning of May 5th everybody in town needed a car
and fast. Within a couple of days he got a shipment of used cars brought in
and started selling cars out of the only building they had left, his airplane
Farrell Allison has had to shovel ice and snow out of his ICF house twice,
and the home site is wet and muddy, but he keeps his humor knowing it’s all
part of winter time construction.
The new site for the John Deere dealership is on the east side of town which
has no utilities. The Estes brothers meet with Steve Hewitt to work out
a partnership on the cost of bringing the utilities in. They all agree to
work together and big laughs all around when Steve says the town will even
wave the 35 dollar hook up fee.
Steve is invited to the White House and the State of the Union address.
Two GM executives arrive in town to help the Shanks rebuild their dealership
green. They brought in some Hybrid Tahoes for the city to use and gave three
Suburbans to the school which lost all their vehicles in the storm.
City Council meeting. First up Studio 804, proposing to build a building,
between 1,000 and 1,500 sq. feet, but it must be completed by May 4th, and
out of the goodness of their hearts, would only cost the town approximately
120 to 150 thousand dollars, The silence was deafening. (I laughed so hard
I got the hiccups.)
Next up, the BNIM folks giving a 3 month update on the master plan, using
brochures and artists renderings, consolidating the towns wants and ideas
into a cohesive plan. Including streetscapes, traffic, walkways, rain gardens,
cisterns, trees, plantings, and the importance of keeping the rural character
to the town. They nearly got a standing ovation.
Farrell is working on his roof when Richard Engelken drops by to get some
pointers on building his home green.
Stacy Barnes picks up pieces of debris to make wall art. To turn something
ugly into beauty. She’s want to open an art center. Two Studio 804 people
drop by and tell her they think an art studio would be perfect for the
building they have in mind, if she has a location and oh yeah, that little
funding matter. After all, they are non-profit…….
The drilling service shows up to start drilling four, 200 foot wells for
Farrell’s Geothermal heating and cooling system.
Ben Arensman starts taking out 480 trees the Forestry Service has marked
for removal. A town once rich with a large amount of beautiful maples. What’s
left is mostly dead, dying, and/or defective. They can take them down, but
the city don’t have the funding to remove the thousands of stumps, much
less replace the lost trees. You can still donate to get some trees back in!
The Estes brothers break ground on their new John Deere LEEDs certified
Richard and Rhonda Engelken meet with architects to discuss building their
new green home.
Steve and Kim Hewitt fly to Washington D.C., take in sights, and nervously
anticipate what the President will say about Greensburg, as they get ready
to attend the State of the Union Address.
Back home, the kids are watching TV, waiting for the address, talking about
the workings of the government, which leaves Levi’s head spinning.
Their disappointment was palpable as the efforts of Greensburg was not
mentioned in the Presidents speech. Not even a fleeting shot of Steve or
Kim. But, alas as fate (or a very savy opposing party), would have it,
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius delivered the Democratic response to the
President’s address. Not only did she point out that Steve was sitting
by the First Lady but, went on to tell the story of Greensburg and their
efforts to rebuild their town as the greenest town in the nation, if not
the world. And how proud she and the rest of the nation were of them.
Yes Ma’am, we are!
Tags: alexsis, arrogance, barns, blah, brother, bti, car, charities, christmas trees, cup of coffee, dealership, devastation, direct hit, disasters, edge of town, er, family business, gm dealership, green, hook, hybrids, ideas, john deere, leaves, mulch, plastic, plastic toys, rain, recycle, recycling, rhonda, roofing, selling cars, shank, shovel, sites, studio 804, systems, time studio, tornado, tornadoes, traffic, trees, university of kansas, utility, viable candidate