Feeling the Beat of Public Works

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Hearing the Echoes Around US

A mother of 3 takes her children to the park for a dose of sunshine and adventure. An elderly man flags down a bus that will grant him safe passage to his neighborhood grocery store. A newly expecting couple rushes down a freshly paved road on their way to the hospital to become parents for the first time. You wake up in the morning and start your day, turning on and off your sinks and showers with a laid-back demeanor that remains unphased by the modern miracles occurring before 9 am.

The echoes of Public Workers are all around us. They are un-ending in the ways that they shape our communities. They are always there, in the background, keeping our lives afloat. While our minds are buzzing with worries about our jobs, money, fulfillment, and getting by, our undercover guardians are making sure that the unglamorous byproducts of a modern existence remain in balance. Trash is collected, water is treated, buildings are built, roads are repaired, and day in and day out we can count on them. 

Public Works has evolved over the years. It’s origins date back to 1775 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was initially founded. While the Corps played a big part in war strategy, its most significant contribution to future generations was the initial development of roads, canals, and rivers. Over the years, pieces of the Public Works puzzle fell into place.


From the first National Road in 1811 to the first public sewer system in 1857, these changes in infrastructure were setting the stage for the modern-day quality of life. (Want the full history of Infrastructure in the US? Try here and here.)

Fast-forward to 2020 and image trying to explain digital infrastructure to our Public Works originators. Communication Satellites for cellphones, cloud storage, and data centers would have sounded like the mutterings of a person toeing the line of insanity. It goes to show that the nature of Public Works is fluid. It adapts and innovates with the times. It moves and grooves to the beat of the community it’s serving. Whether that’s the whole nation in 1811 or a small town in present-day Minnesota, you can uncover a uniqueness within.

The arrival of National Public Works Week lets us appreciate these people serving the places we call home. How can you feel the rhythm of your home town? Start learning about how they are planning, managing, building, and operating!

Saying Thank You, This Week and Beyond

The arrival of the Coronavirus brought fear and solitude into our lives. Each day was overcast with uncertainty and trailed by a hope that everything would be okay. While plenty of people found themselves settling into their new “normal” at home, essential workers braved the day head first, and among them were Public Works Employees. While we might not be able to thank every Public Works Employee personally, we can recognize how they contribute to our own community’s rhythm. And, we can thank them with a continued daily appreciation of what’s going on behind the scenes in each city and town across the country.



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