Blueprint America Launches

September 22nd, 2008

Thirteen blogger: Ed Hersh, Senior Consultant, Blueprint America

Okay, now, admit it: when you hear the word “infrastructure”, it doesn’t exactly make you sit bolt upright. But maybe it should, because those rusting bridges, overcrowded airports, endless traffic jams, suburban overdevelopment, choked tanker terminals, leaky water systems, overtaxed power grids, and lack of public transportation are all part of our infrastructure, and they are in desperate need of attention. In an era of climate change and $5/gallon gasoline, they’re nothing less than a wake-up call about our nation’s ability to face the social, economic and environmental challenges of the future.

I’m proud to be part of a terrific team that’s launching an unprecedented new initiative, Blueprint America — developed and produced here at Thirteen/WNET, with major funding by the Rockefeller Foundation — that in the months ahead will present a whole range of compelling programming about the problems we face and some visions for the future that we guarantee will never let you take our infrastructure for granted again. You’ll also learn – as we did in our research – that in our nation’s past, there was almost always a national plan for how our country should grow, and where. And never have we needed that foresight more than today.

We’ve put together a first-class production team to put all this together, and we’re thrilled that we’re partnering with some of PBS’ most prestigious and most-watched news and public affairs programs, as well as public radio.

    Starting the week of September 22nd, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer will present a five-part series on how infrastructure issues affect every region of country, reported by Senior Correspondent Ray Suarez.

    On October 10th, NOW on PBS will present a major segment reported by David Brancaccio on how rising gas prices, long commutes, and a lack of transit options are having an enormous impact on working families.

    Worldfocus, the new internationally-focused nightly newscast, is firmly committed to a series of segments on how our global competitors treat infrastructure. Likely airdates shortly after October 6th launch.

And that’s just the beginning. We’re producing some innovative prime-time documentaries that will air next spring and summer. We’re putting together some fascinating pieces for air on public radio. And we’ve launched an incredibly rich new website at www.pbs.org/blueprintamerica. We’ll be posting video and audio exclusives, behind-the-scenes video and interviews, and informative links to resources and background reports. We hope it will serve as a focal point for debate, an aggregator of print and video content, and a “virtual meetinghouse” for you to share your stories, video, and information about your cities and towns. There will even be a way for you to share your video of the biggest infrastructure headache you face every day, whether it’s bad commutes, bad traffic, dangerous bridges, or overdevelopment.

NOW do I have your attention? Welcome to Blueprint America. We invite you to join us on what we hope will be an exciting journey over the next year.