The push for sustainability is not the same thing as the “green” movement. Sustainability is the capacity of our human race to sustain itself and its resources for future generations. You might say it’s fairly important.
Sustainability is about considering our social, environmental and economic impacts so that we don’t kill ourselves off. Because odds are that the planet will be here long after we are all gone (note what happened to the dinosaurs).
Rebuilding our cities is vitally important because, in order to sustain the human race, we cannot continue to consume land and resources endlessly with suburban sprawl and concrete. Think of all the pollution we could avoid if people didn’t have to drive 30 minutes (or more) to and from work everyday. They could just walk or take public transportation if they lived in the city where they worked.
Cities are the economic and cultural centers of their surrounding regions, so in order for our regions to thrive, so too must our cities.
So how do we re-develop our old industrial cities to achieve social, environmental and economic sustainability?
Here are some things that I have been thinking about (not in order of importance – because they are all important):
- Public Health and Safety
- Education (inner city quality)
- Housing and neighborhoods (supporting family and community, solving the foreclosure crisis)
- Social services (helping those in need)
- Economic Development (jobs, attracting and retaining the best & brightest individuals and organizations)
- Local food systems (from local farms to plate)
- Zero waste (reducing, reusing, recycling, composting)
- Public transportation (and biking & walking)
- Urban planning (green public spaces, access to the waterfront, vacant land re-use etc.)
- Population density (anti-suburban sprawl)
- “Alternative” energy (since when was wind and sun considered alternative? They’ve been the primary sources of energy forever.)
- Brownfield remediation (ie Removing the toxins from contaminated land)
- Regional collaboration and innovation (to become more globally competitive as a region)
I encourage you to think about what living in a sustainable Cleveland (or any other city) would be like in ten years. The mayor’s summit on Sustainable Cleveland 2019 is coming up and we want to have plenty of good ideas to carry forward for our city’s future. The possibilities are as extensive as you can muster with your mind.
Please feel free to leave comments about what you would want to include in a sustainable city. And let me know what I’ve left out of the list above!