Join Us

Posted by Pat Gordon

Welcome to the Sustainable Cities Blog, the place for first-hand information on urban sustainability.  Have you ever wondered how to better engage young people in your projects?  Do you wonder if it is possible to work successfully with a multi disciplinary team of engineers, planners and economists?  Do you feel like you are alone on the front lines of the sustainability struggle?  Look no further.  The Sustainable Cities Blog will provide answers and a place to air your work and your ideas on issues that matter to you. 

Join us in our discussions!

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About sustainablecitiesnetwork

Sustainable Cities International is a registered not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver, Canada. Operating since 1993, the mission of Sustainable Cities is to catalyze action on urban sustainability with cities around the world. We work by connecting and mobilizing people through the process of co-creating. We facilitate a thriving, international network of cities that act as urban laboratories: adopting, testing and improving on innovations. Ideas are accelerated through sharing of experience and cities are making transformational change a reality
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2 Responses to Join Us

  1. Congratulations for the initiative!
    I´m sure this will be a place for sharing, learning and evolving towards a more sustainable and happy socitey, global society as it is!

    And by the way..nice picture from Curitiba, my town!
    Best regards to all, hope I´ll see you in September.

  2. Thanks to ICSC for putting this blog together, and to you Pat for jumping in as the first blogger. Great topic.

    I think that the issue that you bring up of how we implement urban sustainability is extremely important. I started out working in the Vancouver sustainability community primarily focused on the downtown Eastside. For the past 5 years I have begun to focus my work on East Africa, working with the UN. In both places I have come up against the issue of the ‘say-do gap’ time and time again. How do we bring about urban sustainability on a global scale – especially with the level of poverty that most of the world faces? How can we impact the greatest number of people and effect the greatest change?

    Your quote “‘he (she) who controls the discourse also controls the power” yet qualifying this as power only “in its most benign, enabling form!”, gives us a clue. I don’t think what we are striving for is this form of control, as i am afraid this is a slippery slope. I believe the only effective power, in the long term, is the power for and the power with, versus the power over.

    To illustrate my point, I had a very disturbing experience at a recent sustainability conference. I was in a workshop that had as one of its panelists Bill Reese. The panelists addressed issues of sustainability, focusing on possible methods and forms of decision making that could be used to advance the cause of urban sustainability. One of the questions asked of the workshop attendees was what would be the best way to influence people to become more sustainable. I, and the workshop facilitator, were shocked to here that the majority of the people who responded, all who were sustainability activists and practitioners, felt that the best way was to create a “benevolent dictatorship”, where those who “didn’t get it”, were provided with the answers, enforced through policies and regulations, by those who did. This is the slippery slope.

    Let me state here and now, a benevolent dictatorship is still a dictatorship. Meaningful engagement will bring about sustainability, not benign enforcement.

    Yes, we of the sustainability intelligentsia have SOME answers, but not all THE answers.

    Sustainability that costs too much – say as in the case of the “mixed income” Southeast False Creek/Olympic village development – is not sustainable. Sustainability that does not provide, on a global scale, the greatest number of people with the basics such as housing, water and sanitation, is not sustainable.

    So, I would suggest, in addition to the suggested definitions of implementation, that we as well look at the cross cutting theme of engagement, and, more specifically, meaningful engagement, not just tokenistic participation. An excellent tool to understand the different levels of engagement is Hart’s Ladder of Participation for those interested.

    Perhaps as well we could resurrect that old chestnut of “participatory planning”, the ephemeral holy grail of community developers.

    Jane Jacob’s said it best when she stated: “There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.” Pretend order comes from believing the we the professionals have the answer. Whereas really we know from experience that the real understanding of sustainability lies with those who face the daily struggles to get by in cities globally.

    With the new advent of social networking and spatial technologies such as google earth, participatory planning and citizen engagement as envisioned by those such as Jacob’s, is, possibly, achievable. But, that discussion is for another blog …

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