Housing Complex

Solar Decathlon Replaced by National Book Festival

The boundaries of the National Mall Plan, and the two green squares where the Decathlon takes place.

If there was a way to make the solar decathletes booted off the National Mall even more angry than they already were, the National Park Service might have done it, by issuing permits to the National Book Festival to expand from one day to two–on the first weekend that the Solar Decathlon was supposed to have taken place. The Library of Congress announced yesterday that its literary shindig would go off on September 24th and 25th, making it even more difficult for the competition to be restored to the Mall on the previously planned dates.

You know who doesn't care? The Washington Post, which opined last Friday that the Solar Decathlon should suck it up and go elsewhere, for the sake of the Mall's long term health. "This is a simple matter of whether the Mall–long revered as the country's "front yard"–will be restored to its former glory and maintained for future generations," the editorial reads. "Years of neglect and overuse have caused the Mall to become a national disgrace, and finally there's recognition of the need to fix conditions."

To which one might respond: It's a lawn, for crying out loud. Lawns can be repaired–if the Decathlon does damage, then make contestants pay for its repair. I'd wager that Americans would rather have a "front yard" continually programmed with activities rather than covered with perfectly manicured grass. While I think using Anacostia Park would be a great opportunity, I also think that the sustainability argument for booting the Decathlon off the Mall is a little wrongheaded.

That's also the conclusion of a clutch of House Democrats, who signed a letter supporting the Decathlon's return to the Mall. Signatories include a few well-placed influencers, like Committee on Natural Resources ranking member Ed Markey (who oversees the Department of the Interior) and research and science subcommittee chairman Daniel Lipinski. But this year, they're not exactly calling the shots anymore–if the Decathletes have any hope at all, they'll probably need to bring on GOP committee chairs as well.

  • http://offthemall.org/ Bryant Turnage

    "But this year, they're not exactly calling the shots anymore–if the Decathletes have any hope at all, they'll probably need to bring on GOP committee chairs as well."

    And we all know just how much Republicans *love* solar power and innovation . . .

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  • Carolyn C.

    "...if the Decathlon does damage, then make contestants pay for its repair." Ironically, a clause is in the decathletes' contract with the Dept. of Energy stating that they will pay to re-sod the Mall as well as make any other necessary repairs --as each group has done over the past ten years of decathlon events. There is a "first come, first served" ruling in the use of the Mall and the solar group had first rights, but that seems to have been ignored. Odd that on the heels of the President's State of the Union address stressing the importance of clean energy technologies such as solar-generated power that the internatinal stuednt group (Solar Decatlon 2011 w/1,000 students from as far away as China and New Zealand)that was invited to come compete on the Mall has been pushed out of this iconic American venue. Isn't the Mall a large enough area to accomodate these two wonedrful events? 'Could be a win-win for all, especially American diplomacy.

  • Whoa_now

    We have lost the war. America won't succeed with pushing new technologies out of the minds of today's youth and eager. I'm all for book fairs...but you can't have Obama speak one day about the importance of new technology, green technology, us paving the way forward and then two weeks later kick the very thing he was stressing out of America's front yard..if anything it should be there. Either we make a commitment now to becoming a country that will move forward with tech or we just start slowing becoming Canada.

  • Rayful Edmond

    Are we really discussing this?

    Seriously, folks!

    The boundaries of the National Mall Plan (see above) looks like a penis.

  • Wlerik

    Over-use?? That is ridiculous. The Solar Decathalon deserves to be on the Mall. I love books also, but the book festival can go to the convention center or a dozen other venues.

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