The Key to Sustainable Cities
273 Pages

The Key to Sustainable Cities


273 Pages


A powerful tool for leveraging change toward sustainability.



Published by
Published 01 March 2009
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EAN13 9781550923971
Language English
Document size 1 MB

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A d v a n c e P r a i s e f o r The Key to Sustainable Cities
st “Making cities sustainable is both the key to 21 century sustainability — and something we don't know how to do very well. Gwen Hallsmith is one of the few people on the planet tackling this critical problem from a real systems-and-people perspective. Better yet, she's got real experience, and real successes, to draw on. Must reading for anyone working to make our cities more livable ... and more alive.” — Alan AtKisson, author,An Optimist LooksBelieving Cassandra: at a Pessimist's World, and President, AtKisson, Inc.
The Key to Sustainable Citiesis a comprehensive, systematic and logically argued book that challenges the current model of cities and provides a very timely, thought-provoking and new methodology for the planning of sustainable cities. Gwen Hallsmith has provided an important contribution to the debate surrounding sustainability. Her book will serve as a catalyst for further debate and actions being taken to address st the issues of cities in the 21 century. I highly recommend The Key to Sustainable Citiesas essential reading for those who are involved in planning and city management now and in the future.” — Dr. Steve Halls, Director of the United Nations Environmental Program’s International Environmental Technology Center
The Key to Sustainable Cities is great reading — Hallsmith tells a good story about the need for professionals to consider system dynamics in their work with cities and communities. In doing so, she provides new insights as to how to apply the Natural Step's fourth system condition by linking it to local community systems.The approach she advocates gives all cities a good place to start from in putting the fourth system condition into concrete practice.” — Karl-Henrik Robert, cofounder of The Natural Step, and author ofThe Natural Step Story
“There is a widespread belief that the global environmental challenge is overwhelming, with the five largest cities having a combined population of about 200 million. As more people decide to live in cities, both small and large, they create considerable ecological footprints.While solutions may exist, they won’t happen without the support and involvement of people. Taking this as her starting point, Gwendolyn Hallsmith, inThe Key to Sustainable Cities, shares her considerable experience in harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of communities to achieve sustainable solutions. She sees the city as a living breathing organism, and she shows how communities and cities can use systems thinking to make the way they work, live, and play more sustainable through focusing on their needs. She provides insights and practical skills that practitioners can apply to the towns and cities in which they live.While the task ahead may be daunting, with this book it will at least be a little easier.” — Harry Blutstein, Director of Integrating Sustainability in Melbourne, and the former Director of Sustainable Development for EPA,Victoria, Australia
The Key To Cities
Meeting Human Needs, Transfor ming Community Systems
Cataloguing in Publication Data: A catalog record for this publication is available from the National Library of Canada.
Copyright © 2003 by Gwendolyn Hallsmith. All rights reserved.
Cover design by Tom Daley.
Second printing January 2007.
Paperback ISBN 13: Paperback ISBN 10:
978-0-86571-499-1 0-86571-499-1
Proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit Global Community Initiatives and the Institute for Sustainable Communities.
Inquiries regarding requests to reprint all or part ofThe Key to Sustainable Cities should be addressed to New Society Publishers at the address below.
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New Society Publishers P.O. Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC V0R 1X0, Canada 1-800-567-6772
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D e d i c a t i o n
This book is dedicated to Dylan Jeremy Hallsmith, Jessica Emily Huyghebaert, and Kelsey Thomas Huyghebaert
C o n t e n t s
Foreword by Peter Clavelle, Mayor of the City of Burlington,Vermont x Introduction 1 1 How Communities Meet Human Needs 13 2 Perceiving the Community as a Whole System 27 3 Community Capacity and Sustainability 48 4 Systems Thinking for Communities 65 5 Celebrating Assets and Creating a Vision 86 6 Envisioning a Beautiful World 99 7 The Challenge of Change 127 8 Whole System Strategies 146 9 Leverage Points 169 10 Initiating Action 185 11 Success 204 12 The Living, Learning, Caring Community 216 Endnotes 249 Index 255
A c k n o w l e d g m e n t s
RITING A BOOK AND HAVING A CHILDare analogous experi-W ences. First, there’s the courtship. The ideas for the book flirt with you — in restaurants, at conferences, while you’re talking to your colleagues about a project. Then things start to get more serious as they start to pester you for commitment.You draft the beginning of a book proposal, and put it down.You look for publishers who might be interested. Maybe you even talk to one or two about it in moments of courageous foolishness. What, me, write a whole book? I must be crazy.You take the step and send the book proposal off in the mail to a complete stranger.Then comes the engagement process: drafting the contract, finding partners who are willing to support the book. Once the agreements are in place, gestation begins. For a child, it’s nine months. For a book, it can be a lot longer than that. It gets larger and larger quite slowly — painfully slowly at times. Then, after drafts and redrafts, copy edits, and cover designs, the book, your baby, is ready to emerge from dark obscurity and face the air, sounds, and lights of the real world. Giving birth to this book was a lot less painful for me than real childbirth, thank goodness, and that’s due to the support and encour-agement that I had from many people who contributed to its success. I can’t name everyone who has inspired me to get all of this down on paper, but I can at least give credit to several people who were signif-icant in keeping the project on track. A lot of the credit goes to my friends and colleagues at the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), a group of unrestrained idealists who have successfully implemented their vision for a better world over the ten years that ISC has been in existence. Madeline Kunin, the former Governor of Vermont and founder of ISC, is a real role model for women everywhere who dare to dream. Peter Clavelle has served as the Chair of the Board of ISC for many years while also managing the awesome task of bringing the city of Burlington step by step closer to being the most sustainable city in the United States. vii
George Hamilton, the Executive Director of ISC, works hard to stay on the cutting edge of the sustainable development movement, and has grown ISC from a small group of like-minded Vermonters to a major international organization with offices and projects all over the world. Barbara Felitti, the Senior Vice President at ISC, brings out the best in the people she works with and encouraged me to write this book from the day I came up with the idea. Further thanks goes to Betty Weiss and Roger Clapp in the Community Action Program at ISC — they read the early drafts of the manuscript and made invalu-able suggestions about how to improve it. I can’t even think about ISC without including thanks to Paul and Deb Markowitz, Cindy Wyckoff, Keith Swann, Andrea Deri, Richard Czaplinski, Bill Ploog, David Boyer, Theodorina Lessidrenska, Andriy Demydenko, Volodymyr Tikkhi,Anna Phillips,Ada Bainova, Dafina Gercheva, Piotr Mancharski, Plamen Dimitrov, Besim Nebiu, Atanas Pascalev, Pavla Rakovska, Janos Zlinsky, Sofia Shatkivska, Roman Kokodyniak, Dan Thompson, Irina Belashova, Allison Mindel, Kevin McCollister, Susan Stitely, Diane Mackay, and all the other people affiliated with ISC whose ideas and hard work helped shape my understanding of sus-tainable development. Another group of people who have been key in helping me understand systems thinking and sustainable development are all of the wonderful people associated with the Balaton Group: Dennis and Donella Meadows, Joan Davis, Niels Meyer, Amory and Hunter Lovins, John Peet, Aromar Revi, Vicki Robin, David Sattherwaite, Mathis Wackernagel, Betsy Taylor, Alan AtKisson, Lazlo Pinter, Manfred Max-Neef, Gillian Martin Mehers, David Korten, Hermann Knoflacher,Wim Hafkamp, Genady Golubev, Gerardo Bukowski, Bob Wilkinson, Robert Costanza, Bert de Vries, Jelel Ezzine, Faye Duchin, Hilary French, Askok Gadgil, Carlos Quesada-Mateo, Ferenc Toth, and so many others. The sessions we have along the shores of Lake Balaton are some of the most stimulating and enlightening that I’ve ever experienced. While writing the book, it was also really important for me to be able to talk to people who forced me to defend what I was saying. For this process, I have to offer my deep appreciation to Dr. Steve Halls of the UNEP International Environmental Technology Center, who challenged my ideas about using sustainability as a meaningful con-ceptual tool for urban planning and helped me think through the
relevance and importance of taking a systems approach to community development. I am also indebted to Michael Snyder, who worked with me on editing the book when the other demands on my life were overwhelming. His contributions to shaping the final draft were enormously helpful, both in terms of the editorial assistance he offered and the substantive comments he made. Of course, the book couldn’t have been done at all without the support and help of the staff at the New Society Publishers.The pub-lisher, Chris Plant, and the editor, Judith Brand, were great to work with. They pushed me to keep at it when I needed to persevere and showed a level of understanding and flexibility that made my first effort at being an author a real pleasure. Another person who made a significant contribution to the process of making a real book out of all these words on paper was my friend Tom Daley, who stepped in and made a cover design that captures the spirit of sustainability I’m trying to convey. I am also thankful for Amos Baer, another helpful soul who was willing to struggle with the edits needed so that the project stayed on track, even though my life was trying to derail it. Finally, I have to thank my family. My father and mother, Wesley and Joan Hall, and my sisters, Gaylynn Huyghebaert and Gretchen Bristol, are some of my best friends; their encouragement is always an important part of my life. My husband, George, and my son, Dylan, were also a big help. George is an excellent copy editor, in fact; I’d never be able to submit a manuscript with as few typographical errors if it weren’t for his exacting review of my writing. And of course, Dylan is the whole motivation for the book to be written in the first place.The concern I have about creating sustainable communities has everything to do with making the world a place where he, his chil-dren, and his grandchildren will want to live.