Village life in Megapolis

Sustainable development
is becoming a reality

Just imagine: You live in »Megapolis« and drive to and from work every day, a commute of perhaps 20 to 30 minutes. You work a typical American workday, many long hours, but when the day is done you drive home into a very different world – to an environment that‘s almost like going back in time, to a place where people, not cars, are the priority.

You park your car at the edge of your subdivision and then walk home. Not because walking home is a designated workout you‘ve chosen to do after driving home – you have to walk, because there are no streets for cars in your community.

The houses are built close together and are divided by lots of shaded walkways, with beautiful plants and trees. There are benches along the paths where people stop to talk to each other, and at the end of one of these paths is your own home, a gorgeous three-and-a-half bedroom house.

Your entrance door and the kitchen windows face a jewel of a courtyard with a little fountain in the middle, not far away from the children‘s playground, very well-integrated with this courtyard.

Now, remember, you live in Megapolis, a 3 1/2 million-people city in the US. But once you leave your car at the garage port just inside the community but far away from the houses, you enter the wonderful world of village life. You live in a »sustainable community«.

In late February, the Southface Energy Institute and the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority presented »Greenprints – Sustainable Communities by Design« in Atlanta. This conference was like a window into the trends in environmentally sound housing and construction here in the US. The conference was packed with workshops, information, great speakers and interesting exhibitions. The circle is widening

I had asked Dennis Creech, the founder and executive director of Southface what was the most important outcome of this event for him. He was very clear about it: For the first time all parties involved came together – officials from the regulatory agencies, builders, contractors and architects, and environmental groups and activists. They all listened to each other and learned from each other.

Lisa Frank, a board member of Southface and working for the Turner Foundation, answered the same question in similar terms.

»I think it‘s that the circle is widening. This conference used to be just environmentalists and small builders. Now it includes corporate heads and developers of elite communities or millionaires. The repeated refrain is there‘s a powerful need to explain why the old ways no longer work and why the new principles of sustainability make sense,« Frank said.

»Public education is the crucial next step. Environmentalists, government officials and builders do not have this skill. The time is now to engage the PR, marketing and advertising community to meet this challenge with the same gusto they use to sell SUVs and soft drinks.«

The conference actually covered a wide array of subjects, some very technical for a lay person like me, some more political. The most important issue for me was what‘s at the heart of this article: sustainable communities. It took me a couple of lectures to really find out what that meant.

Basically, it means taking a new look at old-style community living. In Europe and in indigenous cultures throughout the world, villages were built in the model of what today would be called sustainable communities.

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en/village_life_in_megapolis.txt · Zuletzt geändert: 2010/06/15 14:33 (Externe Bearbeitung)