I intend to research ways in which to make a sustainable city. Inspired by Jeff Speck's TedTalk on "The Walkable City," which I also discussed in a previous blog post, I pondered the affect that sustainable cities have on present and future residents' lives. By a "sustainable" city, I mean not only a city that implements sustainability practices, such as energy conservation or use of "clean" energy, recycling, or protection of biodiversity, but also in its foundation--its planning. The art of urban planning takes into account the daily lives of its residents and considers how its residents will interact with the landscape around them. Urban planning decides whether residents will be forced to take private or public transportation or if they will be encouraged to walk to their destination, if they decide to run on a trail or on a treadmill, or if they decide to pass a couple hours on a park bench or a barstool. While urban planning in many ways shapes the lives of city dwellers, other factors such as culture, lifestyle, or climate of a place may interfere. Thus, urban planners must balance the breadth of influences residents may be exposed to design a city that promotes the healthiest living.
Speck emphasizes the importance of planning a sustainability city as a major draw for the Millennial generation. Portland, OR, as I expressed in an earlier blog post, has become a baseline for a "green city." In attempts to keep up with the times, cities are seeking out sustainability city planning organizations, like the Sustainable City Institute (SCI), a subgroup of the National League of Cities'. SCI's website houses a wealth of information regarding diverse elements of sustainability--from Land Use and Planning to Equity and Engagement. Cities are welcome to use the resources provided by the Institute in their own attempts to become more sustainable or they may apply for the pilot Launching of Leadership in Community Resilience program.
I intend in my progression on this research project to identify other organization with similar involvement and programs to help cities become more sustainable. I also intend to identify other leaders, like Jeff Speck, in the issue of contemporary urban planning. I hope to draw connections between the affect of urban planning on general health in order to show the significance of good urban planning. I am particularly interested in how cities redevelop their spaces in order to become more sustainable, so I seek to compare and contrast an "old" city against a "new" city in order to show perhaps their paths and limitations of urban planning.
Liz is a senior English major with minors in Spanish and Computer Science. Her research interests, like her areas of academic speciality, lie in the intersections between humanities and science. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and playing with dogs.