The Green Column #37

Working in Lincoln: Ideas for the Future

November 8, 2010—The following ideas about the future of working in Lincoln have been solicited from age group members of the Lincoln Green by Design volunteer organization and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee.

When we ask the public for ideas and opinions about the future characteristics of Lincoln, 30 years from now, we should keep in mind that there likely will be different opinions about our future environments and our roles within a future time, according to the generational perspective of those responding. So, the next few articles in this Green Column Series will seek opinions from different age groups among the members of Lincoln Green by Design, guided, in general by the LPlan2040 on-line survey: Virtual Town Hall: Bright Ideas. While the specific expressions may not exactly fit the heading category, they nevertheless will be useful in the City’s quest for new visions of our place, our children’s place and our grandchildren’s place.

Where We Work

14—18 years
More Job Opportunities for Young People
Overall, Lincoln has a diverse job market and a stable economy. However, more businesses should be encouraged to come to Lincoln in order to increase jobs. For teens, a job is usually simple and minimum wage, for example, a fast food worker. This doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned about jobs that pertain to our future degrees. Teens want jobs related to their degree because those jobs more or less define the rest of a person’s working life, whether it is law or art. Once in the workforce, teens want the opportunity to earn a job that fits their education.

37—50 years
Save Energy Through Telecommuting
I would like to see more Lincoln businesses encourage telecommuting. It reduces energy consumption in many areas from office lighting to the number of vehicles on the road. Development under LPlan2040 should encourage home businesses.

Working at Home Improves Quality of Life
I work from home and I really enjoy it. I have great internet access and communications tools, which are a big part of my job. One doesn’t need a big corporate office to have the kind of technology to do most things; in fact the technology at the central office often lags behind what we have at home. I’m fortunate to have access to good technical support to keep me up and running. My family appreciates my flexibility and my dog is happy to have company during the day. Many people fantasize and fear the idea of working from home, on one hand, there is the opportunity for a mid-day nap but there is also the danger that one will never be able to get away from their job. Both are true. With communications technology at the center of so many jobs, work from home can benefit the community. Demands on commercial office space and rush hour traffic can be reduced as space is used more efficiently. Neighborhoods are more “peopled” during the day; households and families have the potential run more efficiently. Resources are used more efficiently and workers have greater autonomy. Work from home may not be for everyone but it is something we could be doing more of and it presents an opportunity to change how we live for the better.

50+ years
Telecommuting Reduces Wear and Tear on Infrastructure
Telecommuting should be encouraged whenever feasible. It is more sustainable to work from home via internet than, for example, drive to Omaha or a distance back and forth to work every day. Employees whose productivity can readily be measured could be encouraged to initiate telecommuting on a trial basis—if not every day, perhaps a few days per week. Telecommuting saves on vehicle wear and tear, fossil fuel use, public street repairs, demand for parking lots and time spent in traffic that could be used more productively.

Use What We Have More Efficiently
Devote resources that take advantage of what is currently available and what is planned that is most likely to be successful: i.e., West Haymarket expansion, plus South Haymarket and Innovation Campus. Also, take advantage of the entities that did proper planning and have funds available to help fuel growth in Lincoln and the surrounding areas: the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Innovation Campus, in particular.

Plan for Future Demands: Innovation Campus
Encourage investment in programs that not only play to this area’s traditional strengths, but also those that will be in high demand in the future: water quality, water conservation and usage, water availability, food quality, food availability and nutrition.

Green Jobs Will Be the Stable Jobs of the Future
Lincoln could be a national leader in business innovations for green, sustainable, and clean energy businesses. What we need is coordinated leadership to step up from
A. the University (the Innovation Campus is a start),
B. the Chamber of Commerce,
C. the City of Lincoln,
D. the Lincoln Independent Businesses Association (LIBA),
E. the Nebraska Workforce Development Agency, and
F. the so-called “2015” investors group.

Hopefully, the new Lincoln/Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan for 2040 will lay the groundwork, articulate some incentives, and cast new visions for the “Post-carbon Economy at Mid-century”— and, that the year 2040 will find Lincoln already there.

This article concludes our Green Column Series featuring the LPlan2040 Bright Ideas forum. To view all the articles in this series visit

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