Blueprint America: Road to the Future

Wed, 05/20/2009 - 8:00pm

Pictured: Miles O’Brien, host of Blueprint America

Photo credit: Skip Nocciolo
The proposals are coming fast and furious from Washington: fix the economy and generate jobs by repairing and rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. And the critics are out in full force: more big-government spending is the last thing America needs in this time of crisis. Blueprint America premieres Wednesday, May 20 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (DT21.1/cable1011). Blueprint America, a unique, multi-platform initiative, is harnessing the power and reach of public broadcasting like never before — on-air and on-line — to separate the facts from the hyperbole on what’s fast becoming one of the most important stories of our time: the fragile state of America’s infrastructure — its highways, public transit, water, power, airports, seaports — and how we neglect their importance to our lives and our economy at our own peril.

Produced through Thirteen/WNET New York, and with major support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the year-long initiative is creating a unique portfolio of dramatic and compelling programming through newly-sewn partnerships with some of PBS’ most prestigious and most-watched news and public affairs programs including NOW on PBS, The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, Worldfocus, and Exposé on Bill Moyers Journal, as well as public radio outlets such as American Public Media and Weekend America. These partners have already produced news stories and magazine-length features, and are gearing up to produce even more programming in 2009.

Two original, primetime PBS documentaries also are in the works — the first scheduled for May 20th. We’ll introduce the visionaries — be they engineers, scientists, activists or politicians — who believe they know what can and should be done about it, not only today, but in the future when the earth has warmed, the population doubled, and natural resources like oil and water are scarce. And we’ll explore whether infrastructure investment is a panacea for the economy, or a potential bridge to nowhere.

At the same time Blueprint America ’s highly sophisticated Web site is fast becoming the “go to” site for infrastructure stories, even as infrastructure becomes a bigger story every day. It’s a “virtual meetinghouse” for citizens to share stories, videos and information about roads, bridges, sewage and similar challenges in their cities and towns, as well as an aggregator of print and video content, including all Blueprint America reports.