By Wellington “Duke” Reiter, Founder and Executive Director, Ten Across

Ten Across approaches the world through a unique lens focusing on two distinct points. First, we are interested in our society’s ability to take advantage of useful, factual information in anticipation of predictable events.  Secondly, we focus on a specific geography which offers examples of potential catastrophe and the available trendlines leading up to them. In short, Ten Across is a laboratory for identifying and addressing our pending challenges.

With the above in mind, we looked back on the year and identified key themes and a selection of corresponding Ten Across Conversations podcast episodes.

We hope you’ll take a listen and share your thoughts with us via our online Ten Across General Inquiries form.  In the process, please share any topics you would like us to cover in the coming year, some of which we’ll be addressing at our 2023 Ten Across Summit; The Future is Here in Houston January 10-12, 2023. We hope you can join us to add your insights to the conversations!

The Decline of the Colorado River

It would be hard to overstate the crisis of a significantly diminished Colorado River and the impact it will have on the American West, the nation, and the 40 million+ people who depend on this existential resource. The recent meeting of the Colorado Water Users Association openly discussed the potential of “dead pool” conditions in Lakes Powell and Mead, something which would have been considered alarmist only a few years ago. This is an exemplary Ten Across issue in that the evidence suggesting such a crisis was forecast and published by those who first explored the “arid lands” of the west well over a century ago—a demonstration of our inability to abide by available data but also an opportunity to learn from past decision-making and make the necessary course corrections.

The Ten Across Conversations podcast addressed the Colorado River situation through numerous discussions with subject and policy experts not only because of the urgency, but as this condition speaks to the larger matters of sustainability, governance, and problem-solving in the 21st century, one that will inevitably be drier and require us to think bigger:  

Why Everyone Should Care About the Colorado River with Rhett Larson
Getting Honest About the Colorado River Crisis with Anne Castle and John Fleck
Managing the Colorado River Crisis with James Eklund
Debunking the Water Myths of Western Cities with Grady Gammage Jr
Securing the Future of Water in Southern California with Adel Hagekhalil

Infrastructure Redefined

The Ten Across initiative draws its name from what is arguably the most impactful infrastructure project in the nation’s history—the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956—which resulted in 41,000-miles of highway spanning the entire continent.  This vast network laid the foundation for the contemporary U.S. economy, albeit one that impacted many communities negatively and did not distribute the benefits equitably. 

With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the imperatives of the Justice 40 initiative, we have the opportunity to reconceptualize the very idea of infrastructure, right past injustices, and integrate new, climate-responsive technologies in the planning of major projects.  We learned more about how this might be accomplished with policy experts and entrepreneurial thinkers from multiple disciplines over the past year including:

Decarbonizing Our Transportation System with Gabe Klein and Michael Berube
Shaping the Future of American Highways with Allie Kelly
Addressing Historical Inequities in Our National Infrastructure, Then and Now with Char Miller
Fixing America’s Infrastructure from the Bottom Up with Henry Cisneros and Bill Fulton

Building a Climate Resilient Future

Thinking in terms of resilience must be a primary function of any region, city, and community. No where do we see this challenge more evident than across the U.S. I-10 corridor. Whether the impacts of drought and extreme heat in the west, or hurricanes and massive floods in the east, the Ten Across region presents unprecedented challenges caused by rapid climate change which will require anticipatory planning, consensus building, and major investments.

Below are episodes where we explored the topic of resilience in the face of climate change with experts and those on the front lines in cities and nationally.

Covering Climate Disasters in Lake Charles, Louisiana with Lauren Rosenthal
Responding to Inevitable Disasters with Juliette Kayyem
Building Heat Resilience with Kathy Baughman McLeod and David Hondula

Optimism and Commitment

2022 offered much to be despairing about, with the situation in Ukraine probably on top of everyone’s list.  With this as a backdrop, we sought out keen observers who address the complexities of the time with openness, transparency, and a hint of optimism about what is still possible. Paul Johnson, the former Mayor of Phoenix and entrepreneur, offered maybe the most direct address via his organization, the Optimistic American. Paul, along with the former New Orleans Mayor and current President and CEO of the National Urban League Marc Morial, the extraordinary journalist, Sammy Roth of the Los Angeles Times, and Jeff Goodell from Rolling Stone, demonstrated that it is indeed possible to press forward in the face of many reasons not to. Along with many others, they are shining a light for us to follow: 

Charting an Optimistic Future with Marc Morial and Paul Johnson
Getting Personal About Climate Change with Sammy Roth
Finding Optimism Amid the Climate Crisis with Jeff Goodell   

Those of us at Ten Across look with great anticipation to 2023, the upcoming Summit in Houston, and engaging all of you in meaningful dialogue about the critical issues which will shape our future.