Reviewed: Cultivating Food Justice - Race, Class & Sustainability

By: Alison Hope Alkon& Julian Agyeman

One Line:

A collection of essays that frames relative youth of sustainability's efforts surrounding the growing and distribution of food that reflects itself in the amount of progress still needing to be made in affording those goals to a broader cultural and socio-economic audience.

Review:

The voice of sustainability and environmentalism has repeatedly struggled with the retention of its message by those outside its group of core proponents. As environmental threats increase in their intensity, so too does the urgency of the pro-environmental message–an urgency that can often be misconstrued as aggression that only emboldens its opponents. Though every cultural […]

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president, environment, politics, white house, trumpYet only two months into a new administration’s tenure, we find ourselves with a new reality previously never before encountered by a millennial generation of environmentalists. After living in the comfort provided by having the highest office in the land vying for environmental reform, many of us find ourselves shocked, if not unprepared, for an executive branch that is doing just the opposite. Recent budget proposals from the White House show deep cuts intended for the Environmental Protection Agency with other bills floating around that call for the eradication of the agency all together. Talk is already circling about the new President’s intentions of unraveling both the Clean Power Plan and efficiency regulations for cars and trucks–both items forged under the watch of our former Commander-in-Chief. For the T-minus three years and ten months that we have under President Trump, environmental efforts must explore new tactics that take advantage of both our free-market economy and tiered system of government. Continue Reading…

solar panels, window turbines, clean power

[Editor’s Note: Below is a guest post from Jesse Glicker LEED AP. Formerly, the Special Projects Coordinator at COOKFOX Architects, Jesse is currently a Masters Candidate at UCL’s Energy Institute studying Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment.]

There is no shortage of news headlines about upcoming changes in the U.S. With the presidential inauguration only just behind us, we are already seeing intense shifts in policy targeting changes in the health care system, immigration reform and the renegotiation of trade deals. In this time of transition it is important not to lose sight of what this means for the environment and the U.S.’s role in fighting global climate change. Under the old administration, climate change was an accepted fact and U.S. environmental policy reflected that.

The Paris Agreement, considered the most ambitious global climate change efforts to date, was signed by 195 nations in December 2016. The agreement shows how serious the international community is about combating climate change.While the United States often claims the position of a leader in global policy, its waning commitment in the transition to a low carbon economy leaves it open to become outpaced by other world powers. The U.S. must remain focused on staying competitive in the high-growth industry of renewable energy and assess the options for doing so with or without federal support in order to remain a leader in this global effort.

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render, infrastructure, ecology, permacultureThe majority of the developed, American landscape has been crafted around automotive transport. As auto technology matured, increasing amounts of resources and area have been devoted to expanding and solidifying our road network. The result has often been environments that are built for a monoculture of cars and their passengers rather than an ecology of transit that supports a variety of mobility options. In order for our streetscapes to evolve to cater to pedestrians more than cars, so too must the car-oriented infrastructure evolve in what kinds of services it provides to its municipality. A broader array of roles can allow infrastructure to improve quality of life in multiple ways with systems that complement each other.  Continue Reading…

vermont, wood, furnitureIn the new millennium, Urban planning trends have consistently embraced the practice of turning old industrial areas into new opportunities for residential and commercial development. While this methodology has ushered in the birth of many new neighborhoods, the results of industry-free urban locales may not be purely positive. As we see more communities age through similar transitions and observe their development over time, the fallout of industrial segregation should prompt a second look at the value of industrial program in maintaining a vibrant, diverse and sustainable urban realm.

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One Line:

Pacific-based architecture firm WOHA offers a sustainable, urban alternative to the environmentally and socially destructive nature of modern mega cities.

Review:

Four years after the release of Breathing Architecture, Garden City Mega City continues to chronicle the pursuit of sustainable architecture and planning by Pacific-based architecture firm WOHA. Folding in subsequent years of creative proposals–both built and unbuilt–this new publication focuses on the environmental and social challenges of hyper-density in tall buildings. Author and photographer Patrick Bingham-Hall helps […]

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village view ecology

Photo by EFFEKT

The rate and degree of evolution for building types and development patterns around the world may be one of the most critical decisions facing the fate of the biosphere over the next century. While a growing number of voices can point to the decidedly unsustainable nature of the settlement patterns of many different cultures, proposals that offer a significant step towards the dynamic equilibrium of sustainability are harder to come by. One developer/architecture team has recently rolled out a vision that does more than toggle the mainstream model, but proposes the framework for a cultural shift built around goals of balance.

Together, entrepreneur James Ehrlich and Danish architecture firm EFFEKT have created the ReGen Village as a model for small communities that utilize planning and technology for some bold steps towards self-reliance while minimizing its negative environmental impact. Continue Reading…

cut shell growth spiralThroughout the evolution of western society the idea of growth has been a cornerstone of both economic and political metrics. The image of success enjoyed by developed countries has helped to champion the practice of feeding expansion that cause economies and populations to grow with the promise of success as a reward–an idea that the developing world has been quick to subscribe to and implement.

Without a doubt, there are many examples of why growth at all scales has improved the quality of life and security for billions of people, but we have reached the point where there are numerous examples where rampant growth models can disregard quality or safety for the sole attribute of feeding themselves. In some instances, the nature of goals crafted around growth can evolve into restrictions that necessitate additional growth not for continuous improvement, but merely for survival–a spiral of perpetual growth for its own sake. As we enter an age of technological maturity and reach a population of over 7 billion people, the time has come to reassess the dangers of not only fostering, but promoting unbridled and unproductive growth. Continue Reading…

DCP retail bambinoOne of the results of an increasingly national, if not international, economy is the rise of larger organizations to outbid smaller competitors with standardization and greater access to resources. We can see it everywhere from the clothes we wear, to the homes we buy and the food that we eat. One vibrant battleground is the retail environment where more and more small business owners can wind up being unable to compete with larger entities for survival in the face of rising rents. Contrary to popular belief, in order for more privately owned shops to survive (and the contribution they provide), neighborhoods need proactive measures of support rather than counting on market forces to do all the heavy lifting. Continue Reading…

Reviewed: The Permaculture City

By: Toby Hemenway

One Line:

A well-written introduction to the notion of permaculture as a mantra for a lifestyle in the pursuit of balance and likely best suited for those new to the ideas and goals of sustainable living.

Review:

The roots of “permaculture” lie in sustainable farming practices. Centered around the use of natural, complementary relationships between crops in close proximity the resulting synergy produces higher yields per acre without the chemical backbone of single-crop farming. The idea is that any given plot can have a network of overlapping crops to form an agricultural ecosystem. The […]

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