Getting Climate Change Programs Right…we’re not there yet.

Getting Climate Change Programs Right…we’re not there yet.

0

Climate Change is beginning to look like a real movement—front page news instead of weekend science columns; multiple new conferences and publications; new and newly converted organizations getting on the bandwagon. Stimulus programs have made it a resource magnet, sending local governments scurrying to find projects under its umbrella. Even the companies we loved to hate are putting out ads assuring us they too are on the job fighting climate change. This is finally beginning to look like an unstoppable train—which means it is even more important to make sure we’re on the right track. But early signs are raising some serious concerns that old patterns are pulling us in the wrong More

Dancing with Climate Change

1

We’ve poured huge amounts of energy into the atmosphere and, well, the atmosphere is energized.  It’s time to learn how to dance with this increasingly energetic partner. Dancing is a good metaphor for the kind of response demanded by climate change. Dancing implies controlled relaxation, improvisation, and the ability to recognize and generate patterns in a swirling changing field.  And it’s fun, creative, and good mental and physical exercise.

Because climate change is happening rapidly, we need to begin experimenting and adapting now—not waiting for someone to figure it out and tell us what to do.  Here’s an example.  Two decades ago, Tim Murphy told me one of his ideas for addressing climate change:  plant oak trees.  Here in the western interior of the U.S., the larger and more productive species of oaks are found in the temperate south.  As one moves northward and to higher elevations, the More

A Land Ethic

1

Aldo Leopold argues that what is centrally missing in our Western culture today is a “land ethic.”  According to Leopold, ethical values are what hold a community together and allow its members to cooperatively co-exist.  Just as our culture has awakened to the violent injustice of slavery, so now is it time that we awake to the injustice we are inflicting on the lands we live within. 

Tracking Potential

0

While working at the Rodale Institute several years ago ,we were surprised to learn that Robert Rodale, former Institute director and  editor of Organic Gardening magazine was an Olympic skeet shooter. On further thought this made sense. In skeet shooting, one needs to trace the trajectory of the clay pigeon, imagine its future path, and aim leading it to impact it at some future as yet unrealized point. Rodale was expert at seeing the potential of existing trends. It was only natural that he would excel at doing this visually as well.

 

To many, the idea of tracing trajectory to  imagine future potential may seem abstract and even unprofessional. Most marketing and planning is done looking to the past to guide it. This has been compared to driving by looking in the rear-view mirror. While it is essential to look at the past to imagine the future, it is the as yet More

Evolving The Way We Rate Progress Towards Sustainability

0

“Growing more efficiently merely makes society more efficiently unsustainable.”

William Rees, PhD, FRSC – University of British Columbia, one of the developers of the Ecological Footprint concept

“If you save the living environment it automatically will save the physical environment. If you just save the physical environment (as we’ve come to understand it), we’ll lose both.”

(Wilson’s Law) E.O. Wilson, Harvard, Entomologist, Ecological System Scientist and Author

Currently, Green Building Rating System credits address the efficient use of resources such as energy, water, and materials. But without addressing the world of living systems – the living environment that supports More

The Economy of Cities: Incubating Meaningful Work

0

Jane Jacobs’ eloquent defense of the life, and death, of great American cities still rings true. As associate director of Architectural Forum in the 1960’s, Jacobs admonished us to remember what really made cities lively and alive—their inherent ability to foster creativity and innovation. Cities that do not add new levels and natures of work stagnate. “More of the Same” is deadening and results in cities that are no longer vibrant. 

Yet many cities base their economic development plans on the expansion or recruitment of a cluster of similar businesses as a way to create “synergies.” The modern economic development plan seeks “like” businesses and related suppliers that support them, believing that they can create a center of excellence. This was the idea that Bangalore, India had when it established itself as the world’s premiere call-center. And Dublin Ireland had in pursuing the “computer chip manufacturing capital of the More

Urban Acupuncture

0

I would like to lift up a metaphor that Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, uses to describe leveraged actions that can help transform a community.  Lerner calls such actions (and the art of discerning and carrying out such actions) as that of urban acupuncture.  As he states it, “I call it urban acupuncture, which is where you focus on key points that increase energy and flow” 1

Seeing Problems as Opportunities

1

Recently, I was asked to speak at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City for a Sustainable Design and Construction series being offered as a diploma course. I wanted to illustrate the benefits achieved by performing a whole-systems site assessment for development clients—a service we call Integral Assessment. When conducting an Integral Assessment of place, we seek to understand the way a place functions, its current state of health, and the existing constraints it poses to the aspirations of the project. Underlying this process of analysis is the philosophy that the study of a site’s constraints will offer insight into their reconciliation—or, that many problems can be seen as opportunities or solutions. More

Regenerating Street Life

0

Santa Fe journalist Zane Fischer, in his weekly column for the Santa Fe Reporter, wrote this week about community efforts to re-vision St. Michael’s Drive—a six-lane, strip-mall infested eyesore that divides the north and south sides of the city.  Santa Fe’s city planning department has apparently recognized the importance of transforming St. Michael’s from a 1970s-era car orientated wasteland into a vibrant and pedestrian friendly part of the urban fabric.  They have invoked the famous “La Rambla” of Barcelona as an exemplar.

Fischer correctly points out that, “La Rambla isn’t only a successful community gathering space because it’s pedestrian friendly. It’s because it’s lined with cafés that don’t face arcane and prohibitive state alcohol regulations. It’s because kids are allowed to hang out well after dark in a culture that isn’t crippled by fear of litigation and the unknown. Businesses are open later than 6 pm, eateries are More

A Regenerative Context for LEED

0

In 2000 the U.S. Green Building Council officially launched the LEED® Green Building Rating System. LEED is a grading system that assigns points and levels of performance to various criteria relating to our health and the health of the ecosystem. It grades a client and design team’s willingness to reduce impact in a number of broad areas such as energy and atmospheric pollutants; community issues; habitat; water quality and conservation; material resources; and the quality of our indoor environment. The purpose of this rating system was to put these issues in front of us as a grouped system. While it has been very successful in its impact on the marketplace, the danger is that users think that LEED helps create sustainable buildings.  It does More