Date Course Contents Reading Assignments Material Due Today Wk 1 Introduction Aug 20
UN SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/cities/
H.Res.109 The Green New Dear https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house- resolution/109/text The Green New Deal Superstudio https://www.lafoundation.org/take-action/green-new- deal/superstudio How to read an academic journal article How to write a critical reflection
Wk 2 Climate Change and Justice Framework 25 What is climate change mitigation? What is adapation? How to integrate climate change into
design process and products? 1. EPA Smart Growth and Climate Change. https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/smart-growth-and- climate-change
2. Ch14, Bulkeley, H., Broto, V.C., & Edwards, G. “Towards Low Carbon Urbanism" in Wheeler, S. M., & Beatley, T. (Eds.). (2014). Sustainable Urban Development Reader
27 Just environments What is the role of environmental design play for creating just environments in both design process and products? 3. Ch30, Bullard, B.“People-of-Color Environmentalism.” in Wheeler, S. M., & Beatley, T. (Eds.). (2014). Sustainable Urban Development Reader
4. Ch32, Perlman, J.E. & O’Meara Sheehan, M. “Fighting Poverty and Environmental Injustice in Cities” in Wheeler, S. M., & Beatley, T. (Eds.). (2014). Sustainable Urban Development Reader
Equity Design case studies https://www.buildinggreen.com/feature/equity-design-and-construction- seven-case-studies
Wk 3 Land Sep 1
formal settlement 5. York, A., Tuccilo, J., Boone, C., Bolin, B., Gentile, L., Schoon, B., & Kane, K. (2016). Zoning and Land Use: A Tale of Incompatibility and Environmental Injustice in Early Phoenix. Journal of Urban Affairs, 36(5), 833–853. https://doi.org/10.1111/juaf.12076
3 Informal settlement 6. Vertigans, S., & Gibson, N. (2019). Resilience and social cohesion through the lens of residents in a Kenyan informal settlement. Community Development Journal. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsz012
Wk 4 Transportation and Energy
FALL 2020 EDS 301 - Sustainable Community Design + Practice Instructor: Dr. Chingwen Cheng, PLA, LEED AP
Course Schedule (9/7/20 updated) TA: Atziry Madera Sabido, MArch Candidate
Smart Growth and Climate Change
Date Course Contents Reading Assignments Material Due Today
FALL 2020 EDS 301 - Sustainable Community Design + Practice Instructor: Dr. Chingwen Cheng, PLA, LEED AP
Course Schedule (9/7/20 updated) TA: Atziry Madera Sabido, MArch Candidate
8 Accessibility, mobility, complete street
7. Dowling, R. (2016). Applying performance-based practical design methods to complete streets : a primer on employing performance-based practical design and transportation systems management and operations to enhance the design of complete streets . U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.
10 8. Austin, S. (2017). Can we get to zero? LA Magazine reading notes 9. Ch27, Brown, L. “Harnessing Wind, Solar, and Geothermal Energy” in Wheeler, S. M., & Beatley, T. (Eds.). (2014). Sustainable Urban Development Reader
Assign1: Wk2-4 #1-9 Reading Reflection
Wk 5 Food and Waste 15 Food systems, Urban Ag 10. Apparicio, P., Cloutier, M., & Shearmur, R. (2007). The case of Montréal’s missing food
deserts: evaluation of accessibility to food supermarkets. International Journal of Health Geographics, 6(1), 4–4. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-072X-6-4
17 Wastewater, waste management
11. Ch26, Girardet, H. “The Metabolism of Cities” in Wheeler, S. M., & Beatley, T. (Eds.). (2014). Sustainable Urban Development Reader
Wk 6 Water 22 One Water 12. p97-112. Novotny, V., Ahern, J., & Brown, P. (2010). Water centric sustainable communities
planning, retrofitting, and building the next urban environment. Wiley. reading notes
24 Flooding and stormwater management
13. Favaro, A. & Chelleri, L. (2018). Ch15-The Evolution of Flooding Resilience: The Case of Barcelona. In Smart, resilient and transition cities: Emerging approaches and tools for a climate- sensitive urban development. Elsevier.
Wk 7 Planned Community Design integrating Green Infrastructure 29 design steps 14. p27-47, Ch5. Arendt, R., & Harper, H. (1996). Conservation design for subdivisions : a practical
guide to creating open space networks . Island Press. reading notes
design examples 15. p57-111 Ch7. Arendt, R., & Harper, H. (1996). Conservation design for subdivisions : a practical guide to creating open space networks . Island Press.
Assign2: Wk5-7 #10-15 Reading Reflection
Wk 8 Mid-Term Presentation 6 10 mins each, 7 groups 8 10 mins each, 7 groups Wk 9 Place-Making & Place-Keeping 13 Place-Keeping: Prof.
Dalla Costa, ASU 16. Dalla Costa, W. (2018). Indigenous placekeeping: campus design + planning. Arizona State University.
15 17. Gentrification and Neighborhood Revitalization: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? https://nlihc.org/resource/gentrification-and-neighborhood-revitalization-whats-difference
Wk 10 Environmental and Climate Justice
Place-Making, Housing: Prof. Meagan Ehlenz, ASU
Energy: Prof. Yekang Ko, University of Oregon
Date Course Contents Reading Assignments Material Due Today
FALL 2020 EDS 301 - Sustainable Community Design + Practice Instructor: Dr. Chingwen Cheng, PLA, LEED AP
Course Schedule (9/7/20 updated) TA: Atziry Madera Sabido, MArch Candidate
20 Environmental justice: Prof. Anne Taufen, Uni. of Washington, Tacoma
18. Mohai, P., Pellow, D., & Roberts, J. (2009). Environmental Justice. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 34(1), 405–430. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-082508- 094348
22 Climate justicescape and Planning
19. Cheng, C. (2019). Climate justicescape and implications for urban resilience in American cities. In: Burayidi, M., Twigg, J., Allen, A., & Wamlester, C. (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Urban Resilience (pp. 83-96). New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Books.
Wk 11 Climate, Health, and Urban Morphology
27 Healthy community design
20. Ch46, Frumkin, H., Frank, L, & Jackson, R. “Physical Activity, Sprawl, and Health” in Wheeler, S. M., & Beatley, T. (Eds.). (2014). Sustainable Urban Development Reader
29 Urban climate design 21. Kleerekoper, L. (2016). Urban Climate Design: Improving thermal comfort in Dutch neighbourhoods. A+BE: Architecture and the Built Environment. 6. 10.7480/abe.2016.11.
Assign3: Wk9-11 #16-21 Reading Reflection
Wk 12 Vulnerable and Resilient Communities
Design for vulnerability 22. Cipolla, C. (2018). Design for Vulnerability: Interpersonal Relations and Design. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation. (4)1, 111-122
5 Local economy resilience
23. Climate resilient economy https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016- 05/documents/planning-framework-climate-resilient-economy-508.pdf
Wk 13 Design with Communities
10 Connect before collaborat24. p73-100. Ch3. in Jones Allen, D., Hester, R., Hou, J., Lawson, L., McNally, M., & de la Pena, D. (2017). Design As Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity. Island Press. https://doi.org/10.5822/978-1-61091-848-0
12 Leverage power 25. p261-285. Ch9 in Jones Allen, D., Hester, R., Hou, J., Lawson, L., McNally, M., & de la Pena, D. (2017). Design As Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity. Island Press. https://doi.org/10.5822/978-1-61091-848-0
Wk 14 Making Design Accountable for Sustainability, Equity, Resilience
17 Ecocity 26. p539-593. Ch XI. Ecocity Case Studies and Evaluations. In Novotny, V., Ahern, J., & Brown, P. (2010). Water centric sustainable communities planning, retrofitting, and building the next urban environment. Wiley.
19 Measuring Social Impacts
27. Measuring the Civic Commons https://civiccommons.us/app/uploads/2018/01/Measuring-the- Civic-Commons.pdf
Assign4: Wk12-14 #22-27 Reading Reflection
Wk 15 Pandemic Urbanism
Date Course Contents Reading Assignments Material Due Today
Course Schedule (9/7/20 updated) TA: Atziry Madera Sabido, MArch Candidate
24 How COVID-19 influence the social + ecological community? (bring reading notes to class, no need for submission)
28. Zellmer, A. J., E. M. Wood, T. Surasinghe, B. J. Putman, G. B. Pauly, S. B. Magle, J. S. Lewis, C. A. M. Kay, and M. Fidino. 2020. What can we learn from wildlife sightings during the COVID-19 global shutdown? Ecosphere 11(8): e03215. 10.1002/ecs2.3215
29. The Dirt: https://dirt.asla.org/2020/06/30/how-will-the-pandemic-impact-the-built-environment/ reading notes
26 No class Thanksgiving Holidays Enjoy! Wk 16 Final Presentation
10 mins each, 7 groups
3 10 mins each, 7 groups Course evaluation Week Finals 8 Submission Assign 5: Group Project
THE SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT READER Third edition
Building on the success of its second edition, the third edition of The Sustainable Urban Development Reader offers an unrivalled selection of classic and contemporary readings and case studies providing a broad introduction to this key topic. It begins by tracing the roots of the sustainable development concept in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, before presenting readings on a number of dimen- sions of the sustainability concept.
Topics covered include land use and urban design, transportation, ecological planning and restoration, energy and materials use, economic development, social and environmental justice, and green architec- ture and building. All sections have a concise editorial introduction that places the selection in context and suggests further reading. Additional sections cover tools for sustainable development, sustainable development internationally, visions of sustainable community, and case studies from around the world. The book also includes educational exercises for individuals, university classes, or community groups, and an extensive list of recommended readings.
The anthology remains unique in presenting a broad array of classic and contemporary readings in this field, each with a concise introduction placing it within the context of this evolving discourse. The Sustainable Urban Development Reader presents an authoritative overview of the field using original sources in a highly readable format for university classes in urban studies, environmental studies, the social sciences, and related fields. It also makes a wide range of sustainable urban planning-related material available to the public in a clear and accessible way, forming an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the future of urban environments.
Stephen M. Wheeler is Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California at Davis. Previously he taught at the University of New Mexico and the University of California at Berkeley. A member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), he has been a consultant in the areas of smart growth, urban design, and sustainable development. He received Ph.D. and MCP degrees from U.C. Berkeley and a B.A. from Dartmouth College. Previously he edited the quarterly journal The Urban Ecologist and served as a lobbyist for Friends of the Earth in Washington, D.C. His articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Local Environment, and the Journal of Planning Education and Research. Besides The Sustainable Urban Development Reader, he is the author of Climate Change and Social Ecology (Routledge 2012) and Planning for Sustainability (Routledge 2004, 2013).
Timothy Beatley is Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he has taught for the last 28 years. His primary teaching and research interests are in environmental planning and policy, with special emphasis on community sustainability. He has published extensively on these subjects; his books include The Ecology of Place (1997, with Kristy Manning), Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities (2000), Native to Nowhere (2005), and Biophilic Cities (2011). His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, among others. Beatley holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
THE ROUTLEDGE URBAN READER SERIES
Richard T. LeGates Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Planning, San Francisco State University
Frederic Stout Lecturer in Urban Studies, Stanford University
The Routledge Urban Reader Series responds to the need for comprehensive coverage of the classic and essential texts that form the basis of intellectual work in the various academic disciplines and profes- sional fields concerned with cities and city planning.
The readers focus on the key topics encountered by undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars in urban studies, geography, sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, culture studies, and professional fields such as city and regional planning, urban design, architecture, environmental studies, international relations, and landscape architecture. They discuss the contributions of major theoreticians and practitioners and other individuals, groups, and organizations that study the city or practice in a field that directly affects the city.
As well as drawing together the best of classic and contemporary writings on the city, each reader features extensive introductions to the book, sections, and individual selections prepared by the volume editors to place the selections in context, illustrate relations among topics, provide information on the author, and point readers towards additional related bibliographic material.
Each reader contains:
Between thirty-five and sixty selections divided into six to eight sections. Almost all of the selections are previously published works that have appeared as journal articles or portions of books.
■ A general introduction describing the nature and purpose of the reader. ■ Section introductions for each section of the reader to place the readings in context. ■ Selection introductions for each selection describing the author, the intellectual background, and context
of the selection, competing views of the subject matter of the selection and bibliographic references to other readings by the same author and other readings related to the topic.
■ One or more plate sections and illustrations at the beginning of each section. ■ An index.
The series consists of the following titles:
THE CITY READER
The City Reader, fifth edition – an interdisciplinary urban reader aimed at urban studies, urban planning, urban geography, and urban sociology courses – is the anchor urban reader. Routledge published a first edition of The City Reader in 1996, a second edition in 2000, a third edition in 2003, and a fourth edition in 2007. The City Reader has become one of the most widely used anthologies in urban studies, urban geography, urban sociology, and urban planning courses in the world.
URBAN DISCIPLINARY READERS
The series contains urban disciplinary readers organized around social science disciplines and professorial fields: urban sociology, urban geography, urban politics, urban and regional planning, and urban design. The urban disciplinary readers include both classic writings and recent, cutting-edge contributions to the respective disciplines. They are lively, high-quality, competitively priced readers which faculty can adopt as course texts and which also appeal to a wider audience.
TOPICAL URBAN ANTHOLOGIES
The urban series includes topical urban readers intended both as primary and supplemental course texts and for the trade and professional market. The topical titles include readers related to sustainable urban development, global cities, cybercities, and city cultures.
INTERDISCIPLINARY ANCHOR TITLE
The City Reader, fifth edition Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout (eds)
URBAN DISCIPLINARY READERS
The Urban Geography Reader Nick Fyfe and Judith Kenny (eds)
The Urban Politics Reader Elizabeth Strom and John Mollenkopf (eds)
The Urban and Regional Planning Reader Eugenie Birch (ed.)
The Urban Sociology Reader, second edition Jan Lin and Christopher Mele (eds)
The Urban Design Reader, second edition Michael Larice and Elizabeth Macdonald (eds)
TOPICAL URBAN READERS
The City Cultures Reader, second edition Malcolm Miles, Tim Hall with Iain Borden (eds)
The Cybercities Reader Stephen Graham (ed.)
The Sustainable Urban Development Reader, second edition Stephen M. Wheeler and Timothy Beatley (eds)
The Global Cities Reader Neil Brenner and Roger Keil (eds)
Cities of the Global South Reader Faranak Miraftab and Neema Kudva (eds)
The City Reader, sixth edition Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout (eds)
For further information on The Routledge Urban Reader Series please visit our website: http://www.routledge.com/articles/featured_series_routledge_urban_reader_series/
Andrew Mould Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN England [email protected]
Richard T. LeGates Department of Urban Studies and Planning San Francisco State University 1600 Holloway Avenue San Francisco, CA 94132 (510) 642-3256 [email protected]
Frederic Stout Urban Studies Program Stanford University Stanford, California 94305-2048 [email protected]
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The Sustainable Urban Development Reader
Third edition Edited by
Stephen M. Wheeler
First published 2014 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN
and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa business
© 2014 Stephen Wheeler and Timothy Beatley
The right of the editors to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Sustainable urban development reader / edited by Stephen M. Wheeler, Timothy Beatley. – Third edition.
pages cm. – (routledge urban reader series) 1. City planning. 2. Community development, Urban. 3. Sustainable urban
development. I. Wheeler, Stephen (Stephen Maxwell) editor of compilation. II. Beatley, Timothy, editor of compilation.
HT166.S9135 2014 307.1′416–dc23
ISBN: 978-0-415-70775-6 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-415-70776-3 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-77036-9 (ebk)
Typeset in Amasis and Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk by Graphicraft Limited, Hong Kong
To Mimi and to the late Dave Brower, whose example and encouragement have been invaluable (SMW)
To Anneke and Carolena (TB)
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Introduction to the third edition 1
PART 1 ORIGINS OF THE SUSTAINABILITY CONCEPT 7
“The Three Magnets” and “The Town–Country Magnet” from Garden Cities of To-morrow (1898) 11 Ebenezer Howard
“Cities and the Crisis of Civilization” from The Culture of Cities (1938) 19 Lewis Mumford
“The Land Ethic” from A Sand County Almanac (1949) 24 Aldo Leopold
“Orthodox Planning and The North End” from The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) 34 Jane Jacobs
“Plight and Prospect” from Design With Nature (1969) 39 Ian L. McHarg
“The Development of Underdevelopment” from Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America (1967) 45 Andre Gunder Frank
“Perspectives, Problems, and Models” from The Limits to Growth (1972) 50 Donella Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jörgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III
“The Steady-State Economy” from Toward a Steady-State Economy (1973) 55 Herman Daly
“City and Nature” from The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design (1984) 61 Anne Whiston Spirn
C O N T E N T Sx
“Towards Sustainable Development” from Our Common Future (1987) 66 World Commission on Environment and Development
“The End of Nature” from The End of Nature (1989) 71 Bill McKibben
“The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development” and Introduction to Chapter 7 from Agenda 21 (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) (1992), “Millennium Development Goals” and “Millennium Declaration” (2002) 79 United Nations
PART 2 DIMENSIONS OF SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT 87
Climate change planning 91
“Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies” from Science magazine (2004) 93 Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow
“Towards Low Carbon Urbanism” from Local Environment (2012) 101 Harriet Bulkeley, Vanesa Castan Broto, and Gareth Edwards
“The Urbanization of Climate Change: Responding to a New Global Challenge” from The Urban Transformation: Health, Shelter, and Climate Change (2013) 107 William Solecki, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Stephen Hammer, and Shagun Mehrotra
Land use and urban design 117
“The Next American Metropolis” from The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream (1993) 119 Peter Calthorpe
“Compactness vs. Sprawl” from Companion to Urban Design (2011) 130 Reid Ewing, Keith Bartholomew, and Arthur C. Nelson
“Infill Development” from Smart Infill (2002) 138 Stephen M. Wheeler
“Outdoor Space and Outdoor Activities” from Life Between Buildings (1980) 146 Jan Gehl
“Transit and the Metropolis: Finding Harmony” from The Transit Metropolis: A Global Inquiry (1998) 153 Robert Cervero
xiC O N T E N T S
“Traffic Calming” from Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence (1999) 161 Peter Newman and Jeffrey Kenworthy
“Cycling for Everyone: Lessons from Europe” from Transportation Research Record (2008) 168 John Pucher and Ralph Buehler
Environmental planning and restoration 179
“Biophilic Cities” from Biophilic Cities (2011) 181 Timothy Beatley
“What Is Restoration?” from Restoring Streams in Cities (1998) 184 Ann L. Riley
“Landscape Ecological Urbanism” from Landscape and Urban Planning (2011) 190 Frederick Steiner
Energy and materials use 195
“The Metabolism of Cities” from Creating Sustainable Cities (1999) 197 Herbert Girardet
“Harnessing Wind, Solar, and Geothermal Energy” from World on the Edge (2011) 205 Lester Brown
“The Changing Water Paradigm: A Look at Twenty-First Century Water Resources Development” from Water International (2000) 214 Peter H. Gleick
“Waste as a Resource” from Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development (1994) 224 John Tillman Lyle
Social equity and environmental justice 233
“People-of-Color Environmentalism” from Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality (1990) 235 Robert Bullard
“Domesticating Urban Space” from Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life (2002) 242 Dolores Hayden
“Fighting Poverty and Environmental Injustice in Cities” from State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future (2007) 248 Janice E. Perlman with Molly O’Meara Sheehan
C O N T E N T Sxii
Economic development 261
“The Economic System and Natural Environments” from the Introduction and Conclusion to Blueprint for a Sustainable Economy (2000) 263 David Pearce and Edward B. Barbier
“Preparing for a New Economic Era” from Environment and Urbanization (1996) 269 David C. Korten
“Natural Capitalism” from Mother Jones (1997) 276 Paul Hawken
“Import Replacement” from Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age (1998) 285 Michael Shuman
“Strengthening Local Economies” from State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future (2007) 293 Mark Roseland with Lena Soots
“Green Jobs” from Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment (2008) 304 Michael Renner, Sean Seeney, Jill Kubit, and Lisa Mastny
Green architecture and building 309
“Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things”: A sermon given at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City (1993) 311 William McDonough
“Principles of Green Architecture” from Green Architecture (1991) 318 Brenda Vale and Robert Vale
“Sustainability and Building Codes” from Environmental Building News (2001) 323 David Eisenberg and Peter Yost
“Introduction to the LEED® Rating System” 328 United States Green Building Council
“The Ten Commandments of Cost-Effective Green Building Design” from Green Building Through Integrated Design (2009) 334 Leith Sharp
Food systems and health 337
“The Food Movement, Rising” from The New York Review of Books (2010) 339 Michael Pollan
“The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply” from Stolen Harvest (2000) 344 Vandana Shiva
xiiiC O N T E N T S
“Physical Activity, Sprawl, and Health” from Urban Sprawl and Public Health: Designing, Planning, and Building for Healthy Communities (2004) 351 Howard Frumkin, Lawrence Frank, and Richard Jackson
“Slow is Beautiful” from In Praise of Slowness (2004) 359 Carl Honoré
PART 3 SUSTAINABILITY PLANNING TOOLS AND POLITICS 365
“Urban Sustainability Reporting” from Journal of the American Planning Association (1996) 367 Virginia W. Maclaren
“What Is an Ecological Footprint?” from Our Ecological Footprint (1996) 375 Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees
“Seeing Change” from Looking at Cities (1985) 384 Allan Jacobs
“For Planners, Investment in Social Media Pays Dividends” from Planetizen, www.planetizen.com (2013) 389 Jessica Hsu
“Multilevel Governance for the Sustainability Transition” from Globalism, Localism and Identity: Fresh Perspectives on the Transition to Sustainability (2001) 392 Uno Svedin, Tim O’Riordan, and Andrew Jordan
“A Progressive Politics of Meaning” from The Politics of Meaning: Restoring Hope and Possibility in an Age of Cynicism (1993) 400 Michael Lerner
“The Story of Change” from The Story of Stuff Project (2012) 406 Annie Leonard
PART 4 SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT INTERNATIONALLY 409
“Urban Planning in Curitiba” from Scientific American (1996) 411 Jonas Rabinovich and Joseph Leitmann
“Planning for Sustainability in European Cities: A Review of Practice in Leading Cities” (2003; updated 2013) 422 Timothy Beatley
C O N T E N T Sxiv
“Collective Action Toward a Sustainable City: Citizens’ Movements and Environmental Politics in Taipei” from Livable Cities? Urban Struggles for Livelihood and Sustainability (2002) 432 Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao and Hwa-Jen Liu
“Sustainable Urban Development in China” (2013) 447 Kang-Li Wu
“Sustainable City: Crisis and Opportunity in Mexico” from Sustaining Cities: Urban Policies, Practices, and Perceptions (2013) 457 Alfonso Iracheta
“Climate Change in the Context of Urban Development in Africa” from Climate Change and Sustainable Urban Development in Africa and Asia (2011) 462 Kempe Ronald Hope, Sr.
“Protecting Eden: Setting Green Standards for the Tourism Industry” from Environment (2003) 468 Martha Honey
PART 5 VISIONS OF SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY 477
“The Streets of Ecotopia’s Capital,” and “Car-Less Living in Ecotopia’s New Towns” from Ecotopia (1975) 481 Ernest Callenbach
“Description of Abbenay” from The Dispossessed (1974) 487 Ursula K. LeGuin
“The View from the Twenty-Third Century” (2008) 491 Stephen M. Wheeler
PART 6 CASE STUDIES OF URBAN SUSTAINABILITY 495
Urban sustainability at the building and site scale 497
Commerzbank Headquarters, Frankfurt, Germany 499 Menara Mesiniaga Bio-Climatic Skyscraper, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 500 Adelaide Eco-Village (Christie Walk), Australia 502 Condé Nast Building (4 Times Square), New York 504 Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou, China 506 Via Verde, New York 507 Barclay Ecological Park, Tainan, Taiwan 509
xvC O N T E N T S
Urban sustainability at the neighborhood or district scale 511
Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden 513 Kronsberg Ecological District, Hannover, Germany 515 Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED), London 516 Greenwich Millennium Village, London 518 Nieuwland (Solar Suburb), Amersfoort, Netherlands 520 Village Homes, Davis, California 521 U.C. Davis West Village, Davis, California 523 Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea 525 Weilai City Ecological Community, Dezhou, China 526 Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town, China 527
Urban sustainability at the city and regional scale 531
Vancouver, British Columbia 533 Bogotá, Colombia 535 Gaviotas, Colombia 537 Paris, France 539 Auroville, India 540 IBA Emscher Park, Germany 543 London, England 545 Masdar, United Arab Emirates 547 Songdo, South Korea 549 Austin, Texas 551 New York City 553 Portland, Oregon 554 Burlington, Vermont 557 Oslo, Norway 559 Singapore 560
PART 7 SUSTAINABILITY PEDAGOGY AND CLASS EXERCISES 563
“Sustainability Pedagogies” from Sustainability Education: Perspectives and Practice across Higher Education (2010) 565 Debbie Cotton and Jennie Winter
Cognitive Mapping Exercise 573 Future Visions Exercises 573 Definitions of Sustainable Development 574 Role Plays to Analyze Points of View and Sustainability Decision Making 575 Sustainability Indicators Exercise 577 Personal Ecological Footprints/Household Sustainability Audit/Carbon Calculators 578 First-Hand Analysis of Urban Environments 579 Regional Vision Exercise 580 Economic Development Exercise 581 Creek Mapping Exercise 583
C O N T E N T Sxvi
Neighborhood Planning Exercise 584 An Ecological Site Plan 585 International Development Exercise 586 Mapping Your Own Block 588 Using YouTube Videos on Sustainability 588 Class Debates on Urban Sustainability Themes 589 Studio or Service Learning Classes 589
Further reading 591 Illustration credits 596 Copyright information 601 Index 606
We would like to thank the many people who have made this volume possible, above all the contribu- tors, whose work continues to inspire us.
Series editor Richard T. LeGates first approached us with the idea of doing such a reader and has been a wonderful source of support and guidance during the process. Routledge’s City Reader, edited by LeGates and Frederick Stout, has been an excellent model and high standard for us to follow.
David Orr, Marcia McNally, Wicak Sarosa, Keiro Hattori, Kang-Li Wu, Herbert Girardet, Mark Rose- land, Richard LeGates, and four anonymous reviewers supplied very helpful comments on the contents and structure of the original edition of this book. Jana Carp, Maria Manta Conroy, Michael Larice, Elizabeth Macdonald, Rafael Pizarro, and four anonymous reviewers supplied very useful comments regarding the second edition, and seven more anonymous reviewers suggested additional material and revisions for the third edition. Thanks to all. Andrew Mould at Routledge has played a central role in making this book possible, while editorial assistants Faye Leerink and Sarah Gilkes, senior production editor Emma Hart, and copy editor Judith Oppenheimer skillfully guided the third edition into print. For assistance with previous editions, we would like to thank Melanie Attridge, Nicola Cooper, Ann King, Jennifer Page, Michael Jones, Vicky Claringbull, Ray Offord, and Lisa Salonen.
Over the years our students have been a great source of feedback on particular readings, and have challenged us to find material that does a good job of communicating sustainability concepts to those not yet familiar with the field. In addition, Stephen Wheeler would like to thank Mimi especially for her constant love and support as well as astute editorial comments during the process of preparing this Reader. Tim Beatley would like to thank, as always, his wife Anneke for her patience and love, and his daughter Carolena for her great energy and spirit (that keep him going).
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INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRD EDITION
Since the first edition of this book appeared 10 years ago millions more people worldwide have embraced the goal of sustainable development, and new programs and courses on sustainability have appeared on hundreds of university campuses. Younger individuals especially recognize the urgency of the topic. Rising consciousness of global warming is one motivating factor. But other needs as well have come to the fore. Many activists and organizations are now rethinking food systems and developing new opportunities for urban agriculture. Another movement is concerned about public health, in particular the rising tide of obesity and physical inactivity in many countries, which is linked in part to the design of communities and economies. Renewable energy, water systems, and green jobs merit increased attention. New concepts such as “biophilic cities,” “slow cities,” and “landscape ecological urbanism” have come on the scene, and, as political systems seem more dysfunctional, we must consider how societies can develop more effective governance for sustainability.
This new edition contains additional readings on these and other topics. At the same time, we further develop our emphasis on thinking critically about urban sustainability in light of five years’ additional experience and information. There is a great deal of literature that enthusiastically promotes one aspect or another of sustainable cities. However, it is important to inquire deeply into how different concepts and practices may work, into how different parties view these subjects, and into how truly meaningful changes may be brought about. Sustainable urbanism is still a new and emerging field of study. Only through critical thinking and joint exploration can we deepen our collective understandings of it.
This edition benefits from the experience of many previous users of the Reader, both within and outside the classroom. In response to feedback we have added 16 new readings while cutting 4, have updated the introductions and suggested further readings throughout, and have revised and expanded the case study section. As with previous versions we have tried to frame each section and reading in a way that will help those new to the subject to understand it, while providing useful intellectual context and references for those readers who already have some background, and stimulating additional debate on questions to which there is no easy answer.
This edition still asks the same basic question: How can we plan and develop communities that will meet long-term human and environmental needs? This concept of sustainable urban development provides a way for citizens, planners, and policymakers worldwide to explore such questions.
The third edition of this book, like the previous ones, aims to provide readers with a wide, thought- provoking selection of writings on this timely subject. We now present an expanded selection of 63 readings related to sustainable community development, drawn from books, academic journals, and general interest magazines. Many of these are “classic” pieces which helped change their fields in various ways, and are important today in order to understand the sustainability discourse. Others are more contemporary readings reflecting current thought and activity. Extensive introductions put each reading in context, and more than two dozen case studies of sustainable urban development initiatives help illustrate the range of projects now underway. Since many of us learn most “by doing,” a final sec- tion of exercises related to sustainability planning helps individuals, students, or community groups work out their own detailed understandings of sustainable community planning.
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Though many of these writings are from North America, we have included pieces from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Australia, and consider many of the urban sustainability challenges addressed here to be universal. Cities and towns worldwide are facing similar problems of climate change, exces- sive motor vehicle use, suburban sprawl, pollution, profligate use of natural resources, rising inequities, and loss of indigenous landscapes and ecosystems. Communities in most parts of the world are also now confronted by a global economic system that frequently undercuts local traditions, businesses, community, environment, and sense of place. Though the context of urban development varies con- siderably from country to country, many sustainability strategies will be the same, for example, seeking to coordinate transportation and land use, restore urban ecosystems, or design the public realm so as to be friendly for women, children, and the elderly. Moreover, every society these days can learn from innovations in other places. So we have tried to keep our perspective as global as possible.
Our first section highlights classic historic writings that have paved the way for more recent discus- sions of urban sustainability. Writers such as Ebenezer Howard, Lewis Mumford, and Aldo Leopold raised questions in the early twentieth century about the nature of the industrial city and the fundamental relationship between human development and the natural world. Later writers such as Jane Jacobs, Ian McHarg, Herman Daly, Andres Gunder Frank, and the Limits to Growth team spurred reevaluation of unsustainable development practices during the critical period of the 1960s and 1970s when many of the ecological and social implications of global development were first widely understood. Authors such as Anne Whiston Spirn pointed out that cities are not divorced from nature, but rather are an integral part of natural systems.
Subsequent United Nations conferences and commissions – especially the mid-1980s Brundtland Commission and the 1992 Earth Summit – helped call attention to the need for a new development paradigm, issuing declarations such as Agenda 21 that were influential in stimulating local planning initiatives in many parts of the world. Meanwhile the Millennium Development Goals have been the international community’s most explicit statement to date of sustainable development goals. These and other influences helped lay the groundwork for current sustainability planning. Understanding particular historical themes – which continue to be echoed today – is important in order to understand how the world’s communities can become more sustainable in the future.
After this look at the origins of the sustainability concept, we next survey classic writings in issue areas important to urban development. Climate change planning now merits its own section, and we start this off with a selection from Bill McKibben’s bestselling book The End of Nature, which brilliantly inserted global warming into public consciousness in 1989. Then comes a classic 2004 piece by Steven Pacala and Robert Socolow suggesting specific strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emis- sions in 15 different sectors. Lastly, a recent analysis by William Solecki, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Stephen Hammer, and Shagun Mehrotra looks at climate impacts on cities worldwide and possible adaptation responses.
Through selections from the American New Urbanist planner Peter Calthorpe, the Danish designer Jan Gehl, Reid Ewing and his colleagues, and one of us (Wheeler), the section on land use and urban design addresses questions such as, Is compact urban development necessary for sustainability? How can more walkable and community-oriented neighborhoods be designed? How can infill development help revitalize our communities? and How can streets and public spaces work better for people? Our introduction to this section points interested readers toward additional writings and resources, especially those connected with recent movements such as the New Urbanism and Smart Growth.
Transportation systems are fundamental in shaping the land use and physical form of urban areas, as well as determining much about the livability of our communities. Our section on this subject starts with a selection by Robert Cervero, who describes ways that urban regions might make progress toward his vision of the “transit metropolis.” Cervero also outlines the huge variety of public transportation modes that might play a role in reducing automobile use. Australian planners Peter Newman and Jeffrey Kenworthy then describe the history of the international movement known as “traffic calming,” and explore the techniques, goals, and results of this approach. John Pucher and Ralph Buehler conclude the
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section with lessons from European communities about how to make cities and towns more bicycle friendly.
Our discussion of environmental planning and restoration begins with a piece by one of us (Beatley) considering the concept of “biophilic cities” – communities that put nature first and provide people with daily contact with it. Next, stream-restoration pioneer Ann Riley investigates the concept of restoration as it applies to urban watershed features. Whereas “conservation” was the watchword of previous generations of environmentalists, “restoration” has become the mantra of many recent activists, and offers exciting possibilities for constructive, hands-on action in cities and towns everywhere. Frederick Steiner then takes a broader view of two recent conceptual approaches, landscape urbanism and urban ecology, and proposes a synthesis of the two, “landscape ecological urbanism,” as a perspective that can show “how designing with nature can improve the quality of cities for people, plants, and animals.”
One of the most unsustainable dimensions of current urban development has to do with energy and materials use, and the waste, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions that usually result from this consumption. In our section on resource use, we include a selection from British sustainability pioneer Herbert Girardet analyzing the flow of raw materials through the urban system. To dramatize his points, Girardet calculates the metabolism of Greater London in terms of energy and resources consumed. A recent piece from Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown then looks at the potential to power com- munities from renewable energy, and Pacific Institute founder Peter Gleick investigates how changing paradigms of water use might lead toward sustainability in the twenty-first century. Finally, regenerative design pioneer John Tillman Lyle examines the unglamorous but fascinating topic of urban waste, and analyzes potential methods of ecological sewage treatment. Lyle profiles the ecological sewage-treatment marsh in the city of Arcata, California, which processes wastes for 15,000 people while also creating important wildlife habitat and an attractive and well-used recreational trail system.
The rising tide of inequity in many societies – in which some groups within society prosper while others suffer – is profoundly rooted in current patterns of urban development. Two selections serve to highlight some urban dimensions of equity issues. In an excerpt from his classic 1990 book Dumping in Dixie, African-American sociologist Robert Bullard describes the emergence and nature of the envir- onmental justice movement. Bullard calls for a new environmentalism that takes into account equity impacts on particular urban communities, and that fights the institutional forces perpetuating environ- mental injustice. In a selection from her 1984 book Redesigning the American Dream, Dolores Hayden, one of the foremost feminist critics of urban design and planning, examines how women have been excluded from or made to feel uncomfortable within urban environments. Hayden calls for “small, com- monsense improvements in urban design” as well as larger changes in the ways society views gender roles, nurturing, and the split between private and public life. Taking a global perspective, Janice E. Perlman and Molly O’Meara Sheehan consider poverty within the rapidly growing megacities of the developing world and propose a number of strategies for reducing it.
One of the most fundamental challenges to sustainable urban development is the need to redirect economies into paths that are restorative rather than exploitative, for example that are not reliant on ever-growing consumption of material products, long-distance trade, and replacement of local businesses by local branches of multinational corporations. In our section on economic development, British econ- omists David Pearce and Edward B. Barbier first of all describe the basic failure of current market economics to take into account many aspects of the world around us, especially natural environments. David C. Korten then discusses the dynamics of economic globalization, and its effects on local com- munities. In the following selection California businessman Paul Hawken outlines his concept of “natural capitalism,” in which the energies of capitalist markets are harnessed for constructive rather than de- structive purposes. Michael Shuman describes a vision of community self-reliance and import replace- ment, a path that runs counter to the current emphasis on global free trade, but that can potentially offer many environmental and social benefits for local communities. Mark Roseland and Lena Soots profile a number of ways that local businesses can be strengthened. And Michael Renner and his colleagues analyze the growth of green jobs and likely prospects for creating more of these.
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The buildings that we live and work in are one of the most basic features of urban environments, and so we continue our survey of sustainable city dimensions with a discussion of green architecture and building practices. In a sermon given at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 1993, ecological architect William McDonough eloquently describes his philosophy of placing building design within the context of all of nature. McDonough includes the needs of human users and surrounding communities within this context, and looks to vernacular local traditions for clues as to how to design for particular climates and cultures. Long-time British pioneers Brenda and Robert Vale then outline what they see as basic principles of a “green” approach to architecture, likewise stressing that the wisdom of historic cultures can be a powerful guide to improve the sustainability of modern building practices. In a different vein, David Eisenberg and Peter Yost analyze how modern building codes con- strain green building practices and how these regulations might be revised so as to make ecological design more possible. These authors succinctly describe the nature, emergence, and limitations of building codes, and urge the environmental design community to become more involved in revising these basic frameworks within which urban construction takes place. Next we include a description of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, which has become very extensively used in North America, along with the recently released list of credits for LEED v4. Finally, Leath Sharp, the former green development coordinator at Harvard, outlines ways to make green building cost-effective.
Concluding our “Dimensions” part of the Reader is a new set of pieces looking at Food Systems and Health. First, well-known journalist Michael Pollan chronicles the rise of the “Food Movement.” Then, Indian activist and scientist Vandana Shiva analyzes changes in global food systems from a developing- world perspective. Howard Frumkin, Lawrence Frank, and Richard Jackson analyze the intersection between town design, physical activity, and public health. And finally Carl Honoré describes the emer- gence of the slow cities movement, and the general value of “slowness” within a sustainable cities framework.
Although many traditional urban planning techniques, such as the preparation of general plans and zoning codes, can be adapted to promote sustainability goals, certain new or revitalized planning tools can be useful for sustainable urban development. In Part 3 on Sustainability Planning Tools and Politics, we investigate the subject of sustainability indicators through Virginia Maclaren’s analysis of these in the Journal of the American Planning Association. We next delve into the topic of ecological footprint ana lysis through a piece by two of the originators of this concept, William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel, from their 1996 book Our Ecological Footprint. In a selection from his classic 1985 volume, Looking at Cities, Allan Jacobs provides a helpful guide to that most basic and essential of urban analysis techniques, the process of simply observing the city. Too often ignored by planners holed up in rooms full of computers, skillful first-hand analysis is essential in order to analyze how urban places function and to see their current handicaps and future possibilities. Uno Svedin, Tim O’Riordan, and Andrew Jordan consider multilevel “governance” strategies that might help otherwise weak public sector institutions deal more effectively with sustainability needs. And finally, in a piece that is still highly relevant 20 years after it was written, Michael Lerner provides an inspiring description of a “politics of meaning” which might become a basis for changing the status quo. Lerner calls upon professionals and politicians to fundamentally reevaluate the spiritual foundation of their work, and to develop new commitment to meaningful collective challenges such as the task of creating more sustainable and livable communities.
Part 4 examines sustainable urban development efforts internationally, with the aim of giving readers a taste of the wide variety of opportunities and challenges facing communities in different parts of the world. One of the most celebrated examples of innovative urban planning is Curitiba, a city of 1.6 million in southern Brazil. Described here in an article by planners Jonas Rabinovich and Josef Leitman reprinted from Scientific American, Curitiba has reshaped its physical form and transportation network over more than four decades, and has also been on the cutting edge of creative social planning. Tim Beatley then updates us on European sustainable community initiatives, profiling projects in the Netherlands, Germany,
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England, Denmark, and other nations. Looking at a different hemisphere, Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao and Hwa-Jen Liu analyze dynamics of urban environmentalism in Taipei, highlighting the tensions between the environmental interests of relatively well-off urban classes and the basic survival needs of the truly poor who crowd many cities in the developing world. Kang-Li Wu contributes a new assessment of urban sustainability practices in China, while Alfonso Iracheta considers challenges of sustainable cities in Mexico, and Kempe Ronald Hope Sr. analyzes climate change and urban development in Africa. Finally, Martha Honey discusses strategies for evaluating ecotourism – the effort to develop sustainable patterns of international leisure travel.
Next we include a brief part with several utopian descriptions of more sustainable communities, in the belief that such visions are important in calling people’s attention to alternative philosophies and the need for change. These visions start with Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia, which inspired environmental activists in the 1970s and, like all ecological utopias, has yet to be realized. Part 5 continues with Ursula K. LeGuin’s science fiction world of Annares in The Dispossessed, specifically her description of the city of Abbaney. LeGuin portrays an even more radical social transformation far in the future, when a secessionist movement seeks to build a society based on cooperation, equity, and modest consumption, in contrast to its corrupt capitalist home world. And, since recent ecological utopias are hard to find, we finish with a new piece by one of us (Wheeler) describing a world after global warming, in which New York and Bangladesh are under water but leaders and publics have finally learned to live sustain- ably on the planet.
Part 6 contains 32 case studies of innovative sustainable urban development practices. These take place on several different scales: that of the individual building or site, that of the neighborhood or district, and that of the city or region. The book’s final portion, Part 7, considers sustainability pedagogy, opening with a fine piece by Debby Cotton and Jennie Winter on that topic, and including a selection of exercises that readers may find it interesting to complete either individually, in groups, or through classes. These exercises have been developed by one of us (Wheeler) in conjunction with courses at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of New Mexico, and the University of California at Davis, but can be adapted for many other types of groups or situations.
In this Reader we have sought selections that are classic, readable, diverse, and if possible relatively specific in their analysis and recommendations. We hope that readers of many types will find this book useful – students, academics, planning professionals, and architects certainly, but also environmental activists, community leaders, and urban and suburban residents of all sorts. Each of us, after all, is confronted on a daily basis with the problems resulting from current modes of community development. Whether the issue is traffic congestion, lack of parks and open space, unfriendly streets and public spaces, poor schools, lack of decent-paying, meaningful work, or the frequent absence of community, finding solutions often depends on an understanding of the urban systems around us – both the ways they have arisen in the past, and the ways that they can be improved in the future. This book aims to provide a foundation for that understanding.
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Origins of the sustainability concept
INTRODUCTION TO PART ONE
The term “sustainable development” appears to have been used for the first time in the 1972 book Limits to Growth, in a passage excerpted later in this section, and has been applied widely to fields such as urban planning and architecture only since the early 1990s. However, concerns about the unsustainability of modern urban development patterns have a much longer history. To put current efforts to create more sustainable cities in perspective, it is important to be aware of this history and the various themes that have converged upon present debates about sustainability.
At least as far back as the early nineteenth century many commentators in Britain, continental Europe, and the United States were worried about the rapid growth of industrial cities. Urban expansion was a subtext underlying Henry David Thoreau’s writings at Walden Pond in the 1840s. Thoreau’s retreat was in large part a flight from the pace and pressures of urban life, and new rail lines emanating from Boston plus a growing suburban population were encroaching on the pond itself. In 1840s England, the deplorable social conditions of the working class in Manchester and the increasing spatial segregation between the suburban estates of wealthy mill owners and the urban tenements of their workers helped motivate the writings of Frederick Engels. At the same time Romantic poets such as Keats, Wordsworth, and Shelley extolled the virtues of nature in a reaction against industrial society, while novelists ranging from Charles Dickens beginning in the 1830s to D.H. Lawrence in the 1920s described the horrors of industrial cities and towns and the efforts of individuals to surmount or come to terms with these circumstances.
Cities of a million or more residents were virtually unknown before 1800, when London achieved this level of population (ancient Rome may have been home to a similar number). But coal-fired industrial factories drew workers from the countryside, while factors such as overpopulation, the privatization of formerly commonly held rural land, and increasingly centralized rural land ownership pushed country dwellers away from their traditional communities. For the first time in the middle and late nineteenth century large numbers of people lived in crowded urban environments far from the countryside, and new technological advances such as the streetcar, the railroad, macadam road paving, modern plumbing, and electric lights helped distance people from the natural world. These forerunners of late twentieth- century megacities had enormous problems related to public health, sanitation, residential overcrowding, and nonexistent infrastructure. Deforestation of countrysides and pollution of air and water also reached new, and in some cases still unmatched, heights. Not surprisingly, many observers felt that the balance between humans and the natural world had been tipped too far in one direction.
Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century social reformers sought to call attention to the deterioration of urban conditions and the need for alternative living environments. One of the most influential of these writers was Ebenezer Howard, a court stenographer whose slim book on “garden cities,” first published in 1898, inspired generations of urban planners and designers. Howard, Scotch visionary Patrick Geddes, and their American follower Lewis Mumford saw the extreme overcrowding of early industrial cities – with its accompanying problems of sanitation, services, pollution, and public health – as the main problem to be addressed. In response, they called for a new balance between city and country in which population was decentralized into carefully planned new communities in the countryside. While this idea had many
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merits, these authors wrote before automobile use became widespread or its implications understood, and before the huge wave of twentieth-century suburbanization turned Howard’s “garden city” idea into much-simplified “garden suburbs” and created a whole new set of development problems in the process. Yet these early writers did much to focus public attention on the unsustainability of urban development trends at that time, the inability of private sector forces to deal with these problems, and the need for thoughtful planning of better alternatives.
The professions of landscape architecture and city planning emerged largely in reaction to the rapid nineteenth-century expansion of industrial cities. The former focused in large part on providing picturesque parks and living environments to urban residents, and in the process helped lay the aesthetic groundwork for twentieth-century suburbia. The latter sought to ensure the forms of infrastructure, housing, land use, and transportation that were viewed as necessary for orderly urban growth. However, in their response to nineteenth-century problems both professions inadvertently established the conditions for another set of sustainability problems in the twentieth century, those related to low-density suburban sprawl.
So one main planning theme that emerged in the nineteenth century – and that sustainability-oriented writers have returned to ever since – was the balance between city and nature. Another theme, much less acted upon, had to do with the challenge of promoting equity. From oppressive working conditions within factories to the mile after mile of dreary tenements and working-class suburbs that were con- structed in the early industrial era, the environment in which working individuals lived was often grim, unhealthy, and unjust. Politicians eventually enacted some reforms, for example in the form of housing codes ensuring adequate light and air, but many other inequities continued. In the post-World War II period, and especially in the 1960s and 1970s, a growing number of writers criticized the widening rifts between rich and poor, between different ethnic or racial groups, and between how men and women are affected by urban environments. Many critics began to realize that twentieth-century development practices, both within cities and worldwide, were worsening inequities rather than improving them. The need for a more equitable society became another cornerstone of sustainable development, one that is more difficult to address than environmental clean-up because it so directly challenges the structure of wealth and power within nations.
A third recurrent theme has to do with the notion of economic growth and the inadequacy of eco- nomics to regulate human and natural systems. British economist and social critic John Stuart Mill in the mid-nineteenth century first raised the notion that a steady-state economy might be desirable, as opposed to one based on endlessly growing production and consumption. This theme was taken up a century later by Kenneth Boulding, E.F. Schumacher, and Herman Daly, all economists who considered whether existing concepts of economic development were compatible with the notion of a limited planet. Daly in particular further developed the concept of steady-state economics, and this part includes one of his classic essays on the topic. The chapter on economic development in this book’s second part explores other economic implications of sustainable urban development.
Various debates around these three concerns – environment, equity, and economy, frequently referred to as the “three E’s” of sustainable development – have thus been gestating for a century or more. Sustainability advocates have sought ways to maximize all three value sets at once, rather than playing them off against one another, as more traditional development strategies have often done. But the process is not easy, and is likely to require looking closely at each of these areas.
The concept of “sustained” development itself emerged most directly from the field of natural resource management. In the late nineteenth century Germany faced severe problems with over-cutting of forests, and developed sustained-yield forest management techniques to compensate. Americans such as Gifford Pinchot learned these approaches at continental forestry schools and imported them into the United States, which despite its vast natural resource holdings was beginning to confront the notion of limits as well. The concept of managing ecosystems for sustained resource yield was quickly applied to wild- life species and fisheries as well as forestry. This “conservationist” perspective pioneered in the late nineteenth century – based on a view of humans as apart from nature and managing natural resources for their own use – is frequently contrasted with the “preservationist” perspective advocated by Sierra
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Club founder John Muir and others at the same time. In the latter view, nature has intrinsic value and should be protected for its own sake. Both perspectives have played a role in recent sustainable development discourses. Aldo Leopold, whose pivotal essay on “the land ethic” is included in this part, was central between these two camps. Although his career began within the conservationist tradition, in later life he came to see humans as part of a larger organic whole, and so helped lay the groundwork for more radical environmental movements such as “deep ecology.” His assertion of a profound human responsibility to care for and heal natural systems is an important philosophy behind many sustainable community initiatives. The understanding that nature is inextricably woven into cities, developed by writers such as Anne Whiston Spirn in the early 1980s, likewise underlies sustainable city efforts.
In recent years concern about global warming has motivated the search for sustainable development. Although the concept that carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels might trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere has been known since the late nineteenth century, and the danger that it might accumulate rapidly rather than being largely absorbed by the earth’s oceans has been realized since the late 1950s, it is only recently that humanity has taken this threat seriously. Bill McKibben’s bestselling 1989 book The End of Nature eloquently spelled out the problem for millions of readers, and we have included an excerpt from that influential volume here.
Selections from the pivotal reports of the Limits to Growth research team, which in 1972 presaged current concerns about global warming and peak oil in more general terms, the 1987 Brundtland Commission, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, and the 2000 United Nations Millennium Development Goals round out this part. These classic documents have all been extremely important internationally in stimulating sustainable development activity, though each is open to criticism on various grounds. Unfortunately there is no single, universally acknowledged manifesto that by itself sets out a sustainable urban development agenda. The 1996 United Nations Habitat II Conference, the “City Summit,” sought to produce such a document, but the so-called Habitat Declaration has not attracted a wide following. However, other declarations of sustainable development principles have been put forth by architects, urban designers, and activists, and there does seem to be consensus emerging on many directions for sustainable urban development. The 2000 United Nations Millennium Development Goals encapsulate many of these themes.
“The Three Magnets” and “The Town–Country Magnet” from Garden Cities of To-morrow (1898)
Perhaps the single most influential and visionary book in the history of urban planning has been Ebenezer Howard’s slim 1898 volume originally simply entitled To-morrow, and four years later reissued as Garden Cities of To-morrow. In a more detailed fashion than had ever been attempted before, Howard outlined a strategy for addressing the problems of the industrial city, one that attempts to balance city and country in what we might view today as a sustainable fashion.
To be sure, previous visionaries had suggested or even built new towns outside of cities. Scottish mill owner Robert Owen, for example, had constructed the town of New Lanark in 1800–10 near Glasgow for his workers, British soap manufacturer William Lever had built Port Sunlight in 1888 near Liverpool to house his workers, chocolate manufacturer George Cadbury had created Bournville near Birmingham in the 1880s, and American railroad magnate George Pullman had developed the town of Pullman outside Chicago for his employees at about the same time. Meanwhile, French philosophers Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Charles Fourier as well as the Russian Peter Kropotkin had suggested principles for utopian new communities. Catalán engineer Ildefons Cerdá had laid out a large new extension to Barcelona in 1859, and had authored a pioneering book of urban planning philosophy in 1863, calling for a holistic, integrated approach to urban- ization. But Howard’s vision of systematically deconcentrating the population of an industrial city such as London into a ring of carefully organized garden cities surrounded by countryside and connected by railroads went far beyond anything presented before, and spoke powerfully to the needs of the time.
Later urbanists including Raymond Unwin, John Nolen, Lewis Mumford, Patrick Abercrombie, Ian McHarg, and Peter Calthorpe would seek different implementations of this basic idea. Two English garden cities were actually built in the early twentieth century, Letchworth and Welwyn, and the concept inspired the British New Town program that constructed 11 satellite cities around London between the 1940s and the 1960s. Swedish new towns such as Vällingby and Farsta, Dutch new towns such as Houten, and German new towns near Frankfurt have been built following many of the same principles. For its part, the United States government sponsored three garden cities in the 1930s – Greenbelt, Maryland, Greenhills, Ohio, and Greendale, Wisconsin – while private developers built a handful of new towns along the garden city model, including Radburn, New Jersey (of which only one neighborhood was completed), Baldwin Hills Village in Los Angeles, and (much later) Reston, Virginia.
A court stenographer by profession, Howard exemplifies how some of the most revolutionary ideas in city planning have come from concerned citizens rather than professional planners or architects. Jane Jacobs and Lewis Mumford – both writers rather than planners – also fall into this category. Howard’s style was cautious, pragmatic, and designed to appear reasonable to the average citizen. He quoted extensively from leading authorities of the day, provided conceptual graphics, and included financial information attempting to show
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how garden cities could be developed economically. His “three magnets” diagram, presented here, was a simple but effective metaphor to get readers to see that a new concept of urban development was needed, one that balanced city and country. Howard included not just physical planning principles, but detailed social and economic proposals as well, including social control over land. He also tries to strike a balance between prescriptive solutions and creative, incremental development of communities, taking local conditions into account. Thus he does not diagram out the location of every building and road, but presents schematic diagrams “for conceptual purposes only.”
Although his scheme is highly visionary and quite unlike any previously existing community, Howard does his best to present his idea in a pragmatic, reasonable way that might actually be implemented. He quotes leading authorities of the time, and is very specific about the finances, physical extent, design, economic base, and social structure of his proposed community. Howard’s efforts paid off, as a Garden Cities Association dedicated to creating such communities was established after the book’s appearance, and he himself advised in the creation of Letchworth (1911) and Welwyn (1926) outside of London.
Howard’s search for a balance between city and country life is still central to the task of creating more sustainable communities. But the balance has shifted. Instead of the extremely dense nineteenth-century city with a frequent lack of decent housing, clean water, and basic sanitation, we now have in many parts of the world low-density, automobile-dependent suburbs with a much higher quality of housing and infrastructure but many new problems. One type of balance between city and country has been created, though not the one Howard envisioned. Moreover, as we shall see in later parts, environmentalists now advocate integrating nature into cities in ways not thought of a century ago.
The question now is, to what extent is Howard’s vision still useful? Does it provide a roadmap for more sustainable cities, and which particular aspects of urban sustainability is it best at addressing? How might we revise his concepts to create new forms of garden city, and how might those garden cities be brought about institutionally and economically?
THE THREE MAGNETS (FROM THE AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION)
There is, however, a question in regard to which no one can scarcely find any difference of opinion. It is wellnigh universally agreed by men of all parties, not only in England, but all over Europe and America and our colonies, that it is deeply to be deplored that people should continue to stream into the already over-crowded cities, and should thus further deplete the country districts.
Lord Rosebery, speaking some years ago as Chairman of the London County Council, dwelt with very special emphasis on this point:
There is no thought of pride associated in my mind with the idea of London. I am always haunted by the awfulness of London: by the great appalling fact of these millions cast down, as it would appear by hazard, on the banks of this noble stream, working each in their own
grove and their own cell, without regard or knowledge of each other, without heeding each other, without having the slightest idea how the other lives – the heedless casualty of unnumbered thousands of men. Sixty years ago a great Englishman, Cobbett, called it a wen. If it was a wen then, what is it now? A tumour, an elephantiasis sucking into its gorged system half the life and the blood and the bone of the rural districts. (March 1891)
Sir John Gorst points out the evil, and suggests the remedy:
If they wanted a permanent remedy of the evil they must remove the cause; they must back the tide, and stop the migration of the people into the towns, and get the people back to the land. The interest and the safety of the towns themselves were involved in the solution of the problem. (Daily Chronicle, 6 November 1891)
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Dean Farrar says:
We are becoming a land of great cities. Villages are stationary or receding; cities are enormously increasing. And if it be true that great cities tend more and more to become the graves of the physique of our race, can we wonder at it when we see the houses so foul, so squalid, so ill- drained, so vitiated by neglect and dirt?
. . . All, then, are agreed on the pressing nature of this problem, all are bent on its solution, and though it would doubtless be quite Utopian to expect a similar agreement as to the value of any remedy that may be proposed, it is at least of immense importance that, on a subject thus universally regarded as of supreme importance, we have such a consensus of opinion at the outset. . . .
Whatever may have been the causes which have operated in the past, and are operating now, to
draw the people into the cities, those causes may all be summed up as “attractions”; and it is obvious, therefore, that no remedy can possibly be effective which will not present to the people, or at least to considerable portions of them, greater “attractions” that our cities now possess, so that the force of the old “attractions” shall be overcome by the force of new “attractions” which are to be created. Each city may be regarded as a magnet, each person as a needle; and, so viewed, it is at once seen that nothing short of the discovery of a method for constructing magnets of yet greater power than our cities possess can be effective for redistributing the population in a spontaneous and healthy manner.
So presented, the problem may appear at first sight to be difficult, if not impossible, of solution. “What,” some may be disposed to ask, “can possibly be done to make the country more attractive to a workaday people than the town – to make wages,
Figure 1 Howard’s diagram of the “three magnets.”
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or at least the standard of physical comfort, higher in the country than in the town; to secure in the country equal possibilities of social intercourse, and to make the prospects of advancement for the average man or woman equal, not to say superior, to those enjoyed in our large cities?” . . .
There are in reality not only, as is so constantly assumed, two alternatives – town life and country life – but a third alternative, in which all the advan- tages of the most energetic and active town life, with all the beauty and delight of the country, may be secured in perfect combination; and the certainty of being able to live this life will be the magnet which will produce the effect for which we are all striving – the spontaneous movement of the people from our crowded cities to the bosom of our kindly mother earth, at once the source of life, of happiness, of wealth, and of power. The town and the country may, therefore, be regarded as two magnets, each striving to draw the people to itself – a rivalry which a new form of life, partaking of the nature of both, comes to take part in. . . .
Neither the Town magnet nor the Country magnet represents the full plan and purpose of nature. Human society and the beauty of nature are meant to be enjoyed together. The two magnets must be made one. As man and woman by their varied gifts and faculties supplement each other, so should town and country. The town is the symbol of society – of mutual help and friendly co-operation, of father- hood, motherhood, brotherhood, sisterhood, of wide relations between man and man – of broad, expanding sympathies – of science, art, culture, religion. And the country! The country is the symbol of God’s love and care for man. All that we are and all that we have comes from it. Our bodies are formed of it; to it they return. We are fed by it, clothed by it, and by it are we warmed and sheltered. On its bosom we rest. Its beauty is the inspiration of art, of music, of poetry. Its forces propel all the wheels of industry. It is the source of all health, all wealth, all knowledge. But its fullness of joy and wisdom has not revealed itself to man. Nor can it ever, so long as this unholy, unnatural separation of society and nature endures. Town and country must be married, and out of this joyous union will spring a new hope, a new life, a new civilization. It is the purpose of this work to show how a first step can be taken in this direction by the construction of a Town–Country magnet; and I hope to convince
the reader that this is practicable, here and now, and that on principles which are the very soundest, whether viewed from the ethical or the economic standpoint.
I will undertake, then, to show how in “Town– country” equal, nay better, opportunities of social intercourse may be enjoyed than are enjoyed in any crowded city, while yet the beauties of nature may encompass and enfold each dweller therein; how higher wages are compatible with reduced rents and rates; how abundant opportunities for employment and bright prospects of advancement may be secured for all; how capital may be attracted and wealth created; how the most admirable sanitary conditions may be ensured; how beautiful homes and gardens may be seen on every hand; how the bounds of freedom may be widened, and yet all the best results of concert and co-operation gathered in by a happy people.
The construction of such a magnet, could it be effected, followed, as it would be, by the construction of many more, would certainly afford a solution of the burning question set before us by Sir John Gorst, “how to back the tide of migration of the people into the towns, and how to get them back upon the land.”
THE TOWN–COUNTRY MAGNET
Howard included not just physical planning prin- ciples, but detailed social and economic proposals as well, including social control over land. He also tries to strike a balance between prescriptive solutions and creative, incremental development of communities taking local conditions into account. Thus he does not diagram out the location of every building and road, but presents schematic diagrams “for conceptual purposes only.”
Although his scheme is highly visionary and quite unlike any previously existing community, Howard does his best to present his idea in a pragmatic, reasonable way that might actually be implemented. He quotes leading authorities of the time, and is very specific about the finances, physical extent, design, economic base, and social structure of his proposed community. Howard’s efforts paid off, as a Garden Cities Association dedicated to creating such communities was estab- lished after the book’s appearance, and he himself
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advised in the creation of Letchworth (1911) and Welwyn (1926) outside of London.
The reader is asked to imagine an estate embrac- ing an area of 6,000 acres, which is at present purely agricultural, and has been obtained by pur- chase in the open market at a cost of £40 an acre, or £240,000. The purchase money is supposed to have been raised on mortgage debentures, bearing interest at an average rate not exceeding 4 percent. The estate is legally vested in the names of four gentlemen of responsible position and of undoubted probity and honour, who hold it in trust, first, as a security for the debenture-holders, and, secondly, in trust for the people of Garden City, the Town– Country magnet, which it is intended to build thereon. One essential feature of the plan is that all ground rents, which are to be based upon the annual value of the land, shall be paid to the trustees, who, after providing for interest and sinking fund, will hand the balance to the Central Council of the new municipality, to be employed by such Council in the creation and maintenance of all necessary public works roads, schools, parks, etc.
The objects of this land purchase may be stated in various ways, but it is sufficient here to say that some of the chief objects are these: To find for our industrial population work at wages of higher pur- chasing power, and to secure healthier surroundings and more regular employment. To enterprising manufacturers, co-operative societies, architects, engineers, builders, and mechanicians of all kinds, as well as to many engaged in various professions, it is intended to offer a means of securing new and better employment for their capital and talents, while to the agriculturists at present on the estate as well as to those who may migrate thither, it is designed to open a new market for their produce close to their doors. Its object is, in short, to raise the standard of health and comfort of all true workers of whatever grade – the means by which these objects are to be achieved being a healthy, natural, and economic combination of town and country life, and this on land owned by the municipality.
Garden City, which is to be built near the center of the 6,000 acres, covers an area of 1,000 acres, or a sixth part of the 6,000 acres, and might be of circular form, 1,240 yards (or nearly three-quarters of a mile) from center to circumference. (Figure 2 is a ground plan of the whole municipal area, showing the town in the center; and Figure 3 [The Figure 3
referred to is not included here – Eds.], which repre- sents one section or ward of the town, will be useful in following the description of the town itself – a description which is, however, merely suggestive, and will probably be much departed from.)
Six magnificent boulevards – each 120 ft wide – traverse the city from center to circumference, dividing it into six equal parts or wards. In the center is a circular space containing about five and a half acres, laid out as a beautiful and well-watered garden; and, surrounding this garden, each standing in its own ample grounds, are the larger public buildings – town hall, principal concert and lecture hall, theatre, library, museum, picture-gallery, and hospital.
The rest of the large space encircled by the “Crystal Palace” is a public park, containing 145 acres, which includes ample recreation grounds within very easy access of all the people.
Running all round the Central Park (except where it is intersected by the boulevards) is a wide glass arcade called the “Crystal Palace,” opening on to the park. This building is in wet weather one of the favorite resorts of the people, whilst the knowledge that its bright shelter is ever close at hand tempts people into Central Park, even in the most doubtful of weathers. Here manufactured goods are exposed for sale, and here most of that class of shopping which requires the joy of deliberation and selection is done. The space enclosed by the Crystal Palace is, however, a good deal larger than is required for these purposes, and a considerable part of it is used as a Winter Garden – the whole forming a permanent exhibition of a most attractive character, whilst its circular form brings it near to every dweller in the town – the furthest removed inhabitant being within 600 yards.
Passing out of the Crystal Palace on our way to the outer ring of the town, we cross Fifth Avenue – lined, as are all the roads of the town, with trees – fronting which, and looking on to the Crystal Palace, we find a ring of very excellently built houses, each standing in its own ample grounds; and, as we continue our walk, we observe that the houses are for the most part built either in concentric rings, facing the various avenues (as the circular roads are termed), or fronting the boulevards and roads which all converge to the center of the town. Asking the friend who accompanies us on our journey what the population of this little city
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may be, we are told about 30,000 in the city itself, and about 2,000 in the agricultural estate, and that there are in the town 5,500 building lots of an average size of 20 ft × 130 ft – the minimum space allotted for the purpose being 20 ft × 100 ft. Noticing the very varied architecture and design which the houses and groups of houses display some having common gardens and co-operative kitchens – we learn that general observance of street line or harmonious departure from it are the chief points as to house building, over which the municipal authorities exercise control, for, though proper sanitary arrangements are strictly enforced, the fullest measure of individual taste and prefer- ence is encouraged.
Walking still toward the outskirts of the town, we come upon “Grand Avenue.” This avenue is fully entitled to the name it bears, for it is 420 ft wide, and, forming a belt of green upwards of three miles long, divides that part of the town which lies outside Central Park into two belts. It really constitutes an additional park of 115 acres – a park which is within 240 yards of the furthest removed inhabitant. In this splendid avenue six sites, each of four acres, are occupied by public schools and their surrounding playgrounds and gardens, while other sites are reserved for churches, of such denominations as the religious beliefs of the people may determine, to be erected and maintained out of the funds of the worshippers and their friends.
Figure 2 Howard’s garden city project.
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We observe that the houses fronting on Grand Avenue have departed (at least in one of the wards – that of which Figure 3 is a representation) – from the general plan of concentric rings, and, in order to ensure a longer line of frontage on Grand Avenue, are arranged in crescents – thus also to the eye yet further enlarging the already splendid width of Grand Avenue.
On the outer ring of the town are factories, warehouses, dairies, markets, coal yards, timber yards, etc., all fronting on the circle railway, which encompasses the whole town, and which has sidings connecting it with a main line of railway which passes through the estate. This arrangement enables goods to be loaded direct into trucks from the ware- houses and work shops, and so sent by railway to distant markets, or to be taken direct from the trucks into the warehouses or factories; thus not only effecting a very great saving in regard to packing and cartage, and reducing to a minimum loss from breakage, but also, by reducing the traffic on the roads of the town, lessening to a very marked extent the cost of their maintenance. The smoke fiend is kept well within bounds in Garden City; for all machinery is driven by electric energy, with the result that the cost of electricity for lighting and other purposes is greatly reduced.
The refuse of the town is utilized on the agri- cultural portions of the estate, which are held by various individuals in large farms, small holdings, allotments, cow pastures, etc.; the natural competi- tion of these various methods of agriculture, tested by the willingness of occupiers to offer the highest rent to the municipality, tending to bring about the best system of husbandry, or, what is more probable, the best systems adapted for various purposes. Thus it is easily conceivable that it may prove advantageous to grow wheat in very large fields, involving united action under a capitalist farmer, or by a body of co-operators; while the cultivation of vegetables, fruits, and flowers, which requires closer and more personal care, and more of the artistic and inventive faculty, may possibly be best dealt with by indi- viduals, or by small groups of individuals having a common belief in the efficacy and value of certain dressings, methods of culture, or artificial and natural surroundings.
This plan, or, if the reader be pleased to so term it, this absence of plan, avoids the dangers of
stagnation or dead level, and, though encouraging individual initiative, permits of the fullest co- operation, while the increased rents which follow from this form of competition are common or municipal property, and by far the larger part of them are expended in permanent improvements.
While the town proper, with its population engaged in various trades, callings, and professions, and with a store or depot in each ward, offers the most natural market to the people engaged on the agricultural estate, inasmuch as to the extent to which the townspeople demand their produce they escape altogether any railway rates and charges; yet the farmers and others are not by any means limited to the town as their only market, but have the fullest right to dispose of their produce to whomsoever they please. Here, as in every feature of the experiment, it will be seen that it is not the area of rights which is contracted, but the area of choice which is enlarged.
The principle of freedom holds good with regard to manufacturers and others who have established themselves in the town. These manage their affairs in their own way, subject, of course, to the general law of the land, and subject to the provision of sufficient space for workmen and reasonable sanitary conditions. Even in regard to such matters as water, lighting, and telephonic communication – which a municipality, if efficient and honest, is certainly the best and most natural body to supply – no rigid or absolute monopoly is sought; and if any private corporation or any body of individuals proved itself capable of supplying on more advantageous terms, either the whole town or a section of it, with these or any commodities the supply of which was taken up by the corporation, this would be allowed. No really sound system of action is in more need of artificial support than is any sound system of thought. The area of municipal and corporate action is probably destined to become greatly enlarged; but if it is to be so, it will be because the people possess faith in such action, and that faith can be best shown by a wide extension of the area of freedom.
Dotted about the estate are seen various chari- table and philanthropic institutions. These are not under the control of the municipality, but are sup- ported and managed by various public-spirited people who have been invited by the municipality to establish these institutions in an open healthy
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district, and on land let to them at a pepper-corn rent, it occurring to the authorities that they can the better afford to be thus generous, as the spend- ing power of these institutions greatly benefits the whole community. Besides, as those persons who
migrate to the town are among its most energetic and resourceful members, it is but just and right that their more helpless brethren should be able to enjoy the benefits of an experiment which is designed for humanity at large.
“Cities and the Crisis of Civilization” from The Culture of Cities (1938)
Howard’s concern with the rapid nineteenth-century growth of industrial cities was taken up by many others in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, and the United States. British architect Raymond Unwin, for ex- ample, in 1909 lamented the dramatic expansion of urban areas in terms we might use today:
The last century has been remarkable, not only in this country but in some others, for an exceedingly rapid and extensive growth of towns. In England this growth has produced most serious results. For many years social reformers have been protesting against the evils which have arisen owing to this rapid and disorderly increase in the size of towns and their populations. Miles and miles of ground, which people not yet elderly can remember as open green fields, are now covered with dense masses of buildings packed together in rows along streets which have been laid out in a perfectly haphazard manner, without any consideration for the common interests of the people . . .1
The solution of Unwin and his associate Barry Parker was a better-designed garden suburb, emphasizing the aesthetic, place-making themes pioneered a decade earlier by German architect Camillo Sitte. Many public officials took an even more pragmatic approach focused on regulation rather than physical design. Beginning in Germany in the 1890s and continuing in Britain and the United States during the early decades of the twentieth century, they enacted zoning codes designed to control densities and enforce segregation of housing, shops, and workplaces – presumably protecting neighborhood quality and property values. But visionaries such as Howard and Geddes sought a broader rethinking of development principles at a metropolitan scale.
Lewis Mumford was in the latter camp, a brilliant humanist critic of architecture and society. During his long life he played a central role as American popularizer of garden city ideas. Like Howard and Geddes, Mumford and his colleagues in the Regional Plan Association of America sought to respond to the problems of the overcrowded industrial city by advocating the decentralization of population so as to achieve a better balance of city and countryside. In his many books Mumford displayed an unparalleled ability to weave together an encyclopedic knowledge of history with an eloquent rhetorical style and a passionate concern for human culture and welfare. Although its prose style now seems from another era, books such as The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1938), from which this passage is taken, inspired generations of later Urbanists. One of these was MIT urban design professor Kevin Lynch, who would continue Mumford’s emphasis on developing a normative urban planning agenda in books such as Good City Form (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981).
A writer rather than a professional architect or planner, Mumford nevertheless proved one of the single greatest influences on American planning in the twentieth century. An overview of his work is given by Mark
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Luccarelli in his book Lewis Mumford and the Ecological Region: The Politics of Planning (New York: The Guilford Press, 1995); a leading biography is Donald L. Miller’s Lewis Mumford: A Life (New York: Grove Press, 1989). Living through two world wars, a cold war, and the devastation of urban landscapes by the automobile and urban renewal, Mumford had a deep fear that mechanistic, war-like forces would subvert the humane values and small-scale relationships that he saw as characterizing pre-industrial cities. “Ours is an age in which the increasingly automatic processes of production and urban expansion have displaced the human goals they are supposed to serve,” he wrote in 1961.2 Taking a sweeping view of history, Mumford used terms such as “paleotechnic,” “neotechnic,” and “biotechnic” to denote different eras of human activity and mindsets. Optimistically, he saw the age of nineteenth-century coal-based industrialization giving way to a cleaner, less exploitative neotechnic era, based on electricity as a power source, and eventually to a more restorative biotechnic era, based on biological science and a more organic philosophy. Within this evolution, he saw cities as playing a central role in nurturing human culture. Although often not specific on details, Mumford was clear on the general change of direction needed, which was toward “the development of a more organic world picture, which shall do justice to all the dimensions of living organisms and human personalities.”3
Now, more than 70 years later, we can still ask what a biotechnic era or a more organic view of urban development would look like. We can also debate to what extent large-scale, mechanistic forces run our lives, as Mumford feared, and to what extent a shift towards humane values and small-scale community is necessary for sustainable cities. And we can ask, How might cities truly become “man’s greatest work of art” as Mumford saw them – a transformative environment for a sustainable future?
Every phase of life in the countryside contri- butes to the existence of cities. What the shepherd, the woodman, and the miner know, becomes trans- formed and “etherealized” through the city into durable elements in the human heritage: the textiles and butter of one, the moats and dams and wooden pipes and lathes of another, the metals and jewels of the third, are finally converted into the instruments of urban living: underpinning the city’s economic existence, contributing art and wisdom to its daily routine. Within the city the essence of each type of soil and labor and economic goal is concentrated: thus arise greater possibilities for interchange and for new combinations not given in the isolation of their original habitats.
Cities are a product of time. They are the molds in which men’s lifetimes have cooled and congealed, giving lasting shape, by way of art, to moments that would otherwise vanish with the living and leave no means of renewal or wider participation behind them. In the city, time becomes visible: buildings and monuments and public ways, more open than the written record, more subject to the gaze of many men than the scattered artifacts of the countryside, leave an imprint upon the minds even of the ignorant or the indifferent. Through
The city, as one finds it in history, is the point of maximum concentration for the power and culture of a community. It is the place where the diffused rays of many separate beams of life fall into focus, with gains in both social effectiveness and significance. The city is the form and symbol of an integrated social relationship: it is the seat of the temple, the market, the ball of justice, the academy of learning. Here in the city the goods of civilization are multiplied and manifolded; here is where human experience is transformed into viable signs, symbols, patterns of conduct, systems of order. Here is where the issues of civilization are focused: here, too, ritual passes on occasion into the active drama of a fully differentiated and self-conscious society.
Cities are a product of the earth. They reflect the peasant’s cunning in dominating the earth; tech- nically they but carry his skill in turning the soil to productive uses, in enfolding his cattle for safety, in regulating the waters that moisten his fields, in providing storage bins and barns for his crops. Cities are emblems of that settled life which began with permanent agriculture: a life conducted with the aid of permanent shelters, permanent utilities like orchards, vineyards, and irrigation works, and permanent buildings for protection and storage.
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the material fact of preservation, time challenges time, time clashes with time: habits and values carry over beyond the living group, streaking with different strata of time the character of any single generation. Layer upon layer, past times preserve themselves in the city until life itself is finally threatened with suffocation: then, in sheer defense, modern man invents the museum.
By the diversity of its time-structures, the city in part escapes the tyranny of a single present, and the monotony of a future that consists in repeating only a single beat heard in the past. Through its complex orchestration of time and space, no less than through the social division of labor, life in the city takes on the character of a symphony: specialized human aptitudes, specialized instru- ments, give rise to sonorous results which, neither in volume nor in quality, could be achieved by any single piece.
Cities arise out of man’s social needs and multiply both their modes and their methods of expression. In the city remote forces and influ- ences intermingle with the local: their conflicts are no less significant than their harmonies. And here, through the concentration of the means of intercourse in the market and the meeting place, alternative modes of living present themselves: the deeply rutted ways of the village cease to be coercive and the ancestral goals cease to be all- sufficient: strange men and women, strange interests, and stranger gods loosen the traditional ties of blood and neighborhood. . . .
The city is a fact in nature, like a cave, a run of mackerel or an ant-heap. But it is also a conscious work of art, and it holds within its communal framework many simpler and more personal forms of art. Mind takes form in the city; and in turn, urban forms condition mind. For space, no less than time, is artfully reorganized in cities: in boundary lines and silhouettes, in the fixing of horizontal planes and vertical peaks, in utilizing or denying the natural site, the city records the attitude of a culture and an epoch to the fundamental facts of its existence. The dome and the spire, the open avenue and the closed court, tell the story, not merely of different physical accommodations, but of essentially different conceptions of man’s destiny. The city is both a physical utility for collective living and a symbol of those collective purposes and unanimities that arise under such favoring
circumstance. With language itself, it remains man’s greatest work of art. . . .
Today a great many things stand in the way of grasping the role of the city and of transforming this basic means of communal existence. During the last few centuries the strenuous mechanical organization of industry, and the setting up of tyrannous political states, have blinded most men to the importance of facts that do not easily fit into the general pattern of mechanical conquest, capitalistic forms of exploitation, and power politics. Habitually, people treat the realities of personality and association and city as abstractions, while they treat confused pragmatic abstractions such as money, credit, political sovereignty, as if they were concrete realities that had an existence independent of human conventions.
Looking back over the course of Western Civilization since the fifteenth century, it is fairly plain that mechanical integration and social disrup- tion have gone on side by side. Our capacity for effective physical organization has enormously increased; but our ability to create a harmonious counterpoise to these external linkages by means of co-operative and civic associations on both a regional and a worldwide basis, like the Christian Church in the Middle Ages, has not kept pace with these mechanical triumphs. By one of those mischievous turns, from which history is rarely free, it was precisely during this period of flowing physical energies, social disintegration, and be- wildered political experiment that the populations of the world as a whole began mightily to increase, and the cities of the Western World began to grow at an inordinate rate. Forms of social life that the wisest no longer understood, the more ignorant were prepared to build. Or rather: the ignorant were completely unprepared, but that did not prevent the building.
The result was not a temporary confusion and an occasional lapse in efficiency. What followed was a crystallization of chaos: disorder hardened uncouthly in metropolitan slum and industrial factory districts; and the exodus into the dormitory suburbs and factory spores that surrounded the growing cities merely widened the area of social derangement. The mechanized physical shell took precedence in every growing town over the civic nucleus: men became dissociated as citizens in the very process of coming together in imposing
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economic organizations. Even industry, which was supposedly served by this planless building and random physical organization, lost seriously in efficiency: it failed to produce a new urban form that served directly its complicated processes. As for the growing urban populations, they lacked the most elementary facilities for urban living, even sunlight and fresh air, to say nothing of the means to a more vivid social life. The new cities grew up without the benefit of coherent social knowledge or orderly social effort: they lacked the useful urban folkways of the Middle Ages or the confident esthetic command of the Baroque period: indeed, a seventeenth-century Dutch peasant, in his little village, knew more about the art of living in com- munities than a nineteenth-century municipal councilor in London or Berlin. Statesmen who did not hesitate to weld together a diversity of regional interests into national states, or who wove together an empire that girdled the planet, failed to produce even a rough draft of a decent neighborhood.
In every department, form disintegrated: except in its heritage from the past, the city vanished as an embodiment of collective art and technics. And where, as in North America, the loss was not alleviated by the continued presence of great monuments from the past and persistent habits of social living, the result was a raw, dissolute environment, and a narrow, constricted, and baffled social life. Even in Germany and the Low Countries, where the traditions of urban life had lingered on from the Middle Ages, the most colossal blunders were committed in the most ordinary tasks of urban planning and building. As the pace of urbanization increased, the circle of devastation widened.
Today we face not only the original social disruption. We likewise face the accumulated phys- ical and social results of that disruption: ravaged landscapes, disorderly urban districts, pockets of disease, patches of blight, mile upon mile of standardized slums, worming into the outlying areas of big cities, and fusing with their ineffectual suburbs. In short: a general miscarriage and defeat of civilized effort. So far have our achievements fallen short of our needs that even a hundred years of persistent reform in England, the first country to suffer heavily from disurbanization, have only in the last decade begun to leave an imprint. True: here and there patches of good building and coherent social form exist: new nodes of integration
can be detected, and since 1920 these patches have been spreading. But the main results of more than a century of misbuilding and malformation, dissociation and disorganization still hold. Whether the observer focuses his gaze on the physical structure of communal living or upon the social processes that must be embodied and expressed, the report remains the same.
Today we begin to see that the improvement of cities is no matter for small one-sided reforms: the task of city design involves the vaster task of rebuilding our civilization. We must alter the para- sitic and predatory modes of life that now play so large a part, and we must create region by region, continent by continent, an effective symbiosis, or co-operative living together. The problem is to co-ordinate, on the basis of more essential human values than the will-to-power and the will-to-profits, a host of social functions and processes that we have hitherto misused in the building of cities and polities, or of which we have never rationally taken advantage.
Unfortunately, the fashionable political philo- sophies of the past century are of but small help in defining this new task: they dealt with legal abstractions, like Individual and State, with cultural abstractions, like Humanity, the Nation, the Folk, or with bare economic abstractions like the Capitalist Class or the Proletariat – while life as it was lived in the concrete, in regions and cities and villages, in wheatland and cornland and vineland, in the mine, the quarry, the fishery, was conceived as but a shadow of the prevailing myths and arrogant fantasies of the ruling classes – or the often no less shadowy fantasies of those who challenged them.
Here and there one notes, of course, valiant exceptions both in theory and in action. Le Play and Reclus in France, W.H. Riehl in Germany, Kropotkin in Russia, Howard in England, Grundtvig in Denmark, Geddes in Scotland, began half a century ago to lay the ideological basis for a new order. The insights of these men may prove as important for the new biotechnic regime, based on the deliberate culture of life, as the formulations of Leonardo, Galileo, Newton, and Descartes were for the more limited mechanical order upon which the past triumphs of our machine civilization were founded. In the piecemeal improvement of cities, the work of sanitarians like Chadwick and Richardson, community designers like Olmsted,
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far-seeing architects like Parker and Wright, laid the concrete basis for a collective environment in which the needs of reproduction and nurture and psychological development and the social processes themselves would be adequately served.
Now the dominant urban environment of the past century has been mainly a narrow by-product of the machine ideology. And the greater part of it has already been made obsolete by the rapid advance of the biological arts and sciences, and by the steady penetration of sociological thought into every department. We have now reached a point where these fresh accumulations of historical insight and scientific knowledge are ready to flow over into social life, to mold anew the forms of cities, to assist in the transformation of both the instruments and the goals of our civilization. Profound changes, which will affect the distribution and increase of population, the efficiency of indus- try, and the quality of Western Culture, have already become visible. To form an accurate estimate of these new potentialities and to suggest their direc- tion into channels of human welfare, is one of the major offices of the contemporary student of cities. Ultimately, such studies, forecasts, and imaginative projects must bear directly upon the life of every human being in our civilization.
What is the city? How has it functioned in the Western World since the tenth century, when the renewal of cities began, and in particular, what changes have come about in its physical and social composition during the last century? What factors have conditioned the size of cities, the extent of their growth, the type of order manifested in street plan and in building, their manner of nucleation, the composition of their economic and social classes, their physical manner of existence and their cultural style? By what political processes of federation or amalgamation, co-operative union or centralization, have cities existed; and what new units of administration does the present age sug- gest? Have we yet found an adequate urban form to harness all the complex technical and social forces in our civilization; and if a new order is discernible, what are its main outlines? What are the relations between city and region? And what steps are necessary in order to redefine and reconstruct the region itself, as a collective human habitation? What, in short, are the possibilities for creating form and order and design in our present civilization? . . .
Today our world faces a crisis: a crisis which, if its consequences are as grave as now seems, may not fully be resolved for another century. If the destructive forces in civilization gain ascendancy, our new urban culture will be stricken in every part. Our cities, blasted and deserted, will be cemeteries for the dead: cold lairs given over to less destruc- tive beasts than man. But we may avert that fate: perhaps only in facing such a desperate challenge can the necessary creative forces be effectually welded together. Instead of clinging to the sardonic funeral towers of metropolitan finance, ours to march out to newly plowed fields, to create fresh patterns of political action, to alter for human pur- poses the perverse mechanisms of our economic regime, to conceive and to germinate fresh forms of human culture.
Instead of accepting the stale cult of death that the fascists have erected, as the proper crown for the servility and the brutality that are the pillars of their states, we must erect a cult of life: life in action, as the farmer or the mechanic knows it: life in expression, as the artist knows it: life as the lover feels it and the parent practices it: life as it is known to men of good will who meditate in the cloister, experiment in the laboratory, or plan intelligently in the factory or the government office.
Nothing is permanent: certainly not the frozen images of barbarous power with which fascism now confronts us. Those images may easily be smashed by an external shock, cracked as ignominiously as fallen Dagon, the massive idol of the heathen: or they may be melted, eventually, by the internal warmth of normal men and women. Nothing endures except life: the capacity for birth, growth, and daily renewal. As life becomes insurgent once more in our civilization, conquering the reckless thrust of barbarism, the culture of cities will be both instrument and goal.
1 Unwin, Raymond. 1909. Town Planning in Practice: An Introduction to the Art of Designing Cities and Suburbs. London: Ernest Benn, p. 2.
2 Mumford, Lewis. 1961. The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects. New York: Harcourt Brace & World, p. 570.
3 Ibid., p. 567.
“The Land Ethic” from A Sand County Almanac (1949)
More than 60 years after his death, Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) is seen as one of the seminal figures in the development of modern environmentalism. His career included service as a conservation ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico and as a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Starting within the conservationist tradition, which emphasized managing natural resources for sustained yield, Leopold ex- panded his perspective towards an acknowledgement of the intrinsic value of ecosystems and a view of the world as an organic, evolving unity. This philosophy foreshadowed the worldview of deep ecologists and other more radical environmentalists of the 1970s and after.
Leopold was an ethicist as well as an environmentalist. His later work included a profound questioning of anthropocentric and economic values, and was based on a belief in the necessity of moral evolution in order for societies to live within “their sustained carrying capacity.” In his essay “The Land Ethic,” he equates the historic spread of ethical notions of human rights with the more recent growth of an understanding that entire ecosystems – not just certain elements of these – have value. He explicitly refutes the possibility of bringing about environmentally sound practices through economics alone, and believes that the only means through which this can be done is a process of social and moral growth. His land ethic – “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise” – is a moral principle on a par with the Golden Rule, a mandate for ecological living.
In addition to A Sand County Almanac (New York: Oxford University Press, 1949), in which “The Land Ethic” is contained, an excellent collection of Leopold’s writings is provided by The River of the Mother Of God and other Essays by Aldo Leopold (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), edited by Susan L. Flader and J. Baird Callicott. Biographies of Leopold include Marybeth Lorbiecke’s Aldo Leopold: a Fierce Green Fire (Helena, MT: Falcon Press, 1996); a biographical film entitled A Fierce Green Fire was released in 2013. More information on the development of environmental philosophies in the twentieth century and the range of these philosophies is contained in Carolyn Merchant’s book Radical Ecology: The Search for a Livable World (New York: Routledge, 1993), Robert Gottlieb’s history of the movement Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1993), Bill McKibben’s edited collection American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (Des Moines: Library of America, 2008), and Philip Shabecoff’s books A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement (New York: Hill and Wang, 2003) and Earth Rising: American Environmentalism in the 21st Century (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2000).
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When God-like Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy, he hanged all on one rope a dozen slavegirls of his household whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence.
This hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong.
Concepts of right and wrong were not lacking from Odysseus’ Greece: witness the fidelity of his wife through the lonely years before at last his blackprowed galleys clove the wine-dark seas for home. The ethical structure of that day covered wives, but had not yet been extended to human chattels. During the three thousand years which have since elapsed, ethical criteria have been extended to many fields of conduct, with corresponding shrinkages in those judged by expediency only.
THE ETHICAL SEQUENCE
This extension of ethics, so far studied only by philosophers, is actually a process in ecological evolution. Its sequences may be described in eco- logical as well as in philosophical terms. An ethic, ecologically, is a limitation on freedom of action in the struggle for existence. An ethic, philosophically, is a differentiation of social from antisocial conduct. These are two definitions of one thing. The thing has its origin in the tendency of inter-dependent individuals or groups to evolve modes of co- operation. The ecologist calls these symbioses. Politics and economics are advanced symbioses in which the original free-for-all competition has been replaced, in part, by co-operative mechanisms with an ethical content.
The complexity of co-operative mechanisms has increased with population density, and with the efficiency of tools. It was simpler, for example, to define the antisocial uses of sticks and stones in the days of the mastodons than of bullets and billboards in the age of motors.
The first ethics dealt with the relation between individuals; the Mosaic Decalogue is an example. Later accretions dealt with the relation between the individual and society. The Golden Rule tries to integrate the individual to society; democracy to integrate social organization to the individual.
There is as yet no ethic dealing with man’s relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus’ slave-girls, is still property. The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.
The extension of ethics to this third element in human environment is, if I read the evidence correctly, an evolutionary possibility and an ecolo- gical necessity. It is the third step in a sequence. The first two have already been taken. Individual thinkers since the days of Ezekiel and Isaiah have asserted that the despoliation of land is not only inexpedient but wrong. Society, however, has not yet affirmed their belief. I regard the present conservation movement as the embryo of such an affirmation.
An ethic may be regarded as a mode of guidance for meeting ecological situations so new or intricate, or involving such deferred reactions, that the path of social expediency is not discernible to the average individual. Animal instincts are modes of guidance for the individual in meeting such situations. Ethics are possibly a kind of community instinct in-the-making.
THE COMMUNITY CONCEPT
All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in the community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).
The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.
This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot
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prevent the alteration, management, and use of these “resources,” but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state.
In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.
In human history, we have learned (I hope) that the conqueror role is eventually self-defeating. Why? Because it is implicit in such a role that the conqueror knows, ex cathedra, just what makes the community clock tick, and just what and who is valuable, and what and who is worthless, in community life. It always turns out that he knows neither, and this is why his conquests eventually defeat themselves.
In the biotic community, a parallel situation exists. Abraham knew exactly what the land was for: it was to drip milk and honey into Abraham’s mouth. At the present moment, the assurance with which we regard this assumption is inverse to the degree of our education.
The ordinary citizen today assumes that science knows what makes the community clock tick; the scientist is equally sure that he does not. He knows that the biotic mechanism is so complex that its workings may never be fully understood.
That man is, in fact, only a member of a biotic team is shown by an ecological interpretation of history. Many historical events, hitherto explained solely in terms of human enterprise, were actually biotic interactions between people and land. The characteristics of the land determined the facts quite as potently as the characteristics of the men who lived on it.
Consider, for example, the settlement of the Mississippi valley. In the years following the Revolution, three groups were contending for its control: the native Indian, the French and English traders, and the American settlers. Historians wonder what would have happened if the English at Detroit had thrown a little more weight into the Indian side of those tipsy scales which decided the outcome of the colonial migration into the cane-lands of Kentucky. It is time now to ponder the fact that the cane-lands, when subjected to the particular mixture of forces represented by the cow, plow, fire, and axe of the pioneer, became
bluegrass. What if the plant succession inherent in this dark and bloody ground had, under the impact of these forces, given us some worthless sedge, shrub, or weed? Would Boone and Kenton have held out? Would there have been any overflow into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri? Any Louisiana Purchase? Any transcontinental union of new states? Any Civil War?
Kentucky was one sentence in the drama of history. We are commonly told what the human actors in this drama tried to do, but we are seldom told that their success, or the lack of it, hung in large degree on the reaction of particular soils to the impact of the particular forces exerted by their occupancy. In the case of Kentucky, we do not even know where the bluegrass came from – whether it is a native species, or a stowaway from Europe.
Contrast the cane-lands with what hindsight tells us about the Southwest, where the pioneers were equally brave, resourceful, and persevering. The impact of occupancy here brought no bluegrass, or other plant fitted to withstand the bumps and buffetings of hard use. This region, when grazed by livestock, reverted through a series of more and more worthless grasses, shrubs, and weeds to a condition of unstable equilibrium. Each recession of plant types bred erosion; each increment to ero- sion bred a further recession of plants. The result today is a progressive and mutual deterioration, not only of plants and soils, but of the animal community subsisting thereon. The early settlers did not expect this: on the ciénegas of New Mexico some even cut ditches to hasten it. So subtle has been its progress that few residents of the region are aware of it. It is quite invisible to the tourist who finds this wrecked landscape colorful and charming (as indeed it is, but it bears scant resem- blance to what it was in 1848).
This same landscape was “developed” once before, but with quite different results. The Pueblo Indians settled the Southwest in pre-Columbian times, but they happened not to be equipped with range live-stock. Their civilization expired, but not because their land expired.
In India, regions devoid of any sod-forming grass have been settled, apparently without wreck- ing the land, by the simple expedient of carrying the grass to the cow, rather than vice versa. (Was this the result of some deep wisdom, or was it just good luck? I do not know.)
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In short, the plant succession steered the course of history; the pioneer simply demonstrated, for good or ill, what successions inhered in the land. Is history taught in this spirit? It will be, once the concept of land as a community really penetrates our intellectual life.
THE ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE
Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. Despite nearly a century of propaganda, conservation still proceeds at a snail’s pace; pro- gress still consists largely of letterhead pieties and convention oratory. On the back forty we still slip two steps backward for each forward stride.
The usual answer to this dilemma is “more conservation education.” No one will debate this, but is it certain that only the volume of education needs stepping up? Is something lacking in the content as well?
It is difficult to give a fair summary of its content in brief form, but, as I understand it, the content is substantially this: obey the law, vote right, join some organizations, and practice what conservation is profitable on your own land; the government will do the rest.
Is not this formula too easy to accomplish anything worthwhile? It defines no right or wrong, assigns no obligation, calls for no sacrifice, implies no change in the current philosophy of values. In respect of land use, it urges only enlightened self-interest. Just how far will such education take us? An example will perhaps yield a partial answer.
By 1930 it had become clear to all except the ecologically blind that southwestern Wisconsin’s topsoil was slipping seaward. In 1933 the farmers were told that if they would adopt certain remedial practices for five years, the public would donate CCC labor to install them, plus the necessary machinery and materials. The offer was widely accepted, but the practices were widely forgotten when the five-year contract period was up. The farmers continued only those practices that yielded an immediate and visible economic gain for themselves.
This led to the idea that maybe farmers would learn more quickly if they themselves wrote the rules. Accordingly the Wisconsin Legislature in 1937
passed the Soil Conservation District Law. This said to farmers, in effect: We, the public, will furnish you free technical service and loan you specialized machinery, if you will write your own rules for land-use. Each county may write its own rules, and these will have the force of law. Nearly all the counties promptly organized to accept the proffered help, but after a decade of operation, no county has yet written a single rule. There has been visible progress in such practices as strip-cropping, pasture renovation, and soil liming, but none in fencing woodlots against grazing, and none in excluding plow and cow from steep slopes. The farmers, in short, have selected those remedial practices which were profitable any- how, and ignored those which were profitable to the community, but not clearly profitable to themselves.
When one asks why no rules have been written, one is told that the community is not yet ready to support them; education must precede rules. But the education actually in progress makes no mention of obligations to land over and above those dictated by self-interest. The net result is that we have more education but less soil, fewer healthy woods, and as many floods as in 1937.
The puzzling aspect of such situations is that the existence of obligations over and above self- interest is taken for granted in such rural community enterprises as the betterment of roads, schools, churches, and baseball teams. Their existence is not taken for granted, nor as yet seriously discussed, in bettering the behavior of the water that falls on the land, or in the preserving of the beauty or diversity of the farm landscape. Land-use ethics are still governed wholly by economic self-interest, just as social ethics were a century ago.
To sum up: we asked the farmer to do what he conveniently could to save his soil, and he has done just that, and only that. The farmer who clears the woods off a 75 percent slope, turns his cows into the clearing, and dumps its rainfall, rocks, and soil into the community creek, is still (if otherwise decent) a respected member of society. If he puts lime on his fields and plants his crops on contour, he is still entitled to all the privileges and emoluments of his Soil Conservation District. The District is a beautiful piece of social machinery, but it is cough- ing along on two cylinders because we have been too timid, and too anxious for quick success, to tell the farmer the true magnitude of his obligations. Obligations have no meaning without conscience,
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and the problem we face is the extension of the social conscience from people to land.
No important change in ethics was ever accom- plished without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions. The proof that conservation has not yet touched these foundations of conduct lies in the fact that philosophy and religion have not yet heard of it. In our attempt to make conservation easy, we have made it trivial.
SUBSTITUTES FOR A LAND ETHIC
When the logic of history hungers for bread and we hand out a stone, we are at pains to explain how much the stone resembles bread. I now describe some of the stones which serve in lieu of a land ethic.
One basic weakness in a conservation system based wholly on economic motives is that most members of the land community have no economic value. Wildflowers and songbirds are examples. Of the 22,000 higher plants and animals native to Wisconsin, it is doubtful whether more than 5 percent can be sold, fed, eaten, or otherwise put to economic use. Yet these creatures are members of the biotic community, and if (as I believe) its stability depends on its integrity, they are entitled to continuance.
When one of these non-economic categories is threatened, and if we happen to love it, we invent subterfuges to give it economic importance. At the beginning of the century songbirds were supposed to be disappearing. Ornithologists jumped to the rescue with some distinctly shaky evidence to the effect that insects would eat us up if birds failed to control them. The evidence had to be economic in order to be valid.
It is painful to read these circumlocutions today. We have no land ethic yet, but we have at least drawn nearer the point of admitting that birds should continue as a matter of biotic right, regardless of the presence or absence of economic advantage to us.
A parallel situation exists in respect of predatory mammals, raptorial birds, and fish-eating birds. Time was when biologists somewhat overworked the evidence that these creatures preserve the health of game by killing weaklings, or that they
control rodents for the farmer, or that they prey only on “worthless” species. Here again, the evidence had to be economic in order to be valid. It is only in recent years that we hear the more honest argument that predators are members of the com- munity, and that no special interest has the right to exterminate them for the sake of a benefit, real or fancied, to itself. Unfortunately this enlightened view is still in the talk stage. In the field the exter- mination of predators goes merrily on: witness the impending erasure of the timber wolf by fiat of Congress, the Conservation Bureaus, and many state legislatures.
Some species of trees have been “read out of the party” by economics-minded foresters because they grow too slowly, or have too low a sale value to pay as timber crops: white cedar, tamarack, cypress, beech, and hemlock are examples. In Europe, where forestry is ecologically more advanced, the non-commercial tree species are recognized as members of the native forest com- munity, to be preserved as such, within reason. Moreover some (like beech) have been found to have a valuable function in building up soil fertility. The interdependence of the forest and its constituent tree species, ground flora, and fauna is taken for granted.
Lack of economic value is sometimes a character not only of species or groups, but of entire biotic communities: marshes, bogs, dunes, and “deserts” are examples. Our formula in such cases is to rele gate their conservation to government as refuges, monuments, or parks. The difficulty is that these communities are usually interspersed with more valuable private lands; the government cannot possibly own or control such scattered parcels. The net effect is that we have relegated some of them to ultimate extinction over large areas. If the private owner were ecologically minded, he would be proud to be the custodian of a reasonable proportion of such areas, which add diversity and beauty to his farm and to his community.
In some instances, the assumed lack of profit in these “waste” areas has proved to be wrong, but only after most of them had been done away with. The present scramble to reflood muskrat marshes is a case in point.
There is a clear tendency in American conserva- tion to relegate to government all necessary jobs
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that private landowners fail to perform. Govern- ment ownership, operation, subsidy, regulation is now widely prevalent in forestry, range management, soil and watershed management, park and wilder- ness conservation, fisheries management, and migratory bird management, with more to come. Most of this growth in governmental conservation is proper and logical, some of it is inevitable. That I imply no disapproval of it is implicit in the fact that I have spent most of my life working for it. Nevertheless the question arises: What is the ultimate magnitude of the enterprise? Will the tax base carry its eventual ramifications? At what point will governmental conservation, like the mastodon, become handicapped by its own dimensions? The answer, if there is any, seems to be in a land ethic, or some other force which assigns more obligation to the private landowner.
Industrial landowners and users, especially lumbermen and stockmen, are inclined to wail long and loudly about the extension of government ownership and regulation to land, but (with notable exceptions) they show little disposition to develop the only visible alternative: the voluntary practice of conservation on their own lands.
When the private landowner is asked to perform some unprofitable act for the good of the com- munity, he today assents only with outstretched palm. If the act costs him cash this is fair and proper, but when it costs only forethought, open- mindedness, or time, the issue is at least debatable. The overwhelming growth of land-use subsidies in recent years must be ascribed, in large part, to the government’s own agencies for conservation education: the land bureaus, the agricultural colleges, and the extension services. As far as I can detect, no ethical obligation toward land is taught in these institutions.
To sum up: a system of conservation based solely on economic self-interest is hopelessly lopsided. It tends to ignore, and thus eventually to eliminate, many elements in the land community that lack commercial value, but that are (as far as we know) essential to its healthy functioning. It assumes, falsely, I think, that the economic parts of the biotic clock will function without the uneconomic parts. It tends to relegate to govern- ment many functions eventually too large, too complex, or too widely dispersed to be performed by government.
An ethical obligation on the part of the private owner is the only visible remedy for these situations.
THE LAND PYRAMID
An ethic to supplement and guide the economic relation to land presupposes the existence of some mental image of land as a biotic mechanism. We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.
The image commonly employed in conservation education is “the balance of nature.” For reasons too lengthy to detail here, this figure of speech fails to describe accurately what little we know about the land mechanism. A much truer image is the one employed in ecology: the biotic pyramid. I shall first sketch the pyramid as a symbol of land, and later develop some of its implications in terms of land-use.
Plants absorb energy from the sun. This energy flows through a circuit called the biota, which may be represented by a pyramid consisting of layers. The bottom layer is the soil. A plant layer rests on the soil, an insect layer on the plants, a bird and rodent layer on the insects, and so on up through various animal groups to the apex layer, which con- sists of the larger carnivores.
The species of a layer are alike not in where they came from, or in what they look like, but rather in what they eat. Each successive layer depends on those below it for food and often for other ser- vices, and each in turn furnishes food and services to those above. Proceeding upward, each successive layer decreases in numerical abundance. Thus, for every carnivore there are hundreds of his prey, thousands of their prey, millions of insects, un- countable plants. The pyramidal form of the system reflects this numerical progression from apex to base. Man shares an intermediate layer with the bears, raccoons, and squirrels which eat both meat and vegetables.
The lines of dependency for food and other services are called food chains. Thus soil–oak–deer– Indian is a chain that has now been largely con- verted to soil–corn–cow–farmer. Each species, including ourselves, is a link in many chains. The deer eats a hundred plants other than oak, and the cow a hundred plants other than corn. Both, then,
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are links in a hundred chains. The pyramid is a tangle of chains so complex as to seem disorderly, yet the stability of the system proves it to be a highly organized structure. Its functioning depends on the co-operation and competition of its diverse parts.
In the beginning, the pyramid of life was low and squat; the food chains short and simple. Evolution has added layer after layer, link after link. Man is one of thousands of accretions to the height and complexity of the pyramid. Science has given us many doubts, but it has given us at least one certainty: the trend of evolution is to elaborate and diversify the biota.
Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals. Food chains are the living channels which conduct energy upward; death and decay return it to the soil. The circuit is not closed; some energy is dissipated in decay, some is added by absorption from the air, some is stored in soils, peats, and long-lived forests; but it is a sustained circuit, like a slowly augmented revolving fund of life. There is always a net loss by downhill wash, but this is normally small and offset by the decay of rocks. It is deposited in the ocean and, in the course of geological time, raised to form new lands and new pyramids.
The velocity and character of the upward flow of energy depend on the complex structure of the plant and animal community, much as the upward flow of sap in a tree depends on its complex cel- lular organization. Without this complexity, normal circulation would presumably not occur. Structure means the characteristic numbers, as well as the characteristic kinds and functions, of the component species. This interdependence between the complex structure of the land and its smooth functioning as an energy unit is one of its basic attributes.
When a change occurs in one part of the circuit, many other parts must adjust themselves to it. Change does not necessarily obstruct or divert the flow of energy; evolution is a long series of self-induced changes, the net result of which has been to elaborate the flow mechanism and to lengthen the circuit. Evolutionary changes, however, are usually slow and local. Man’s invention of tools has enabled him to make changes of unprecedented violence, rapidity, and scope.
One change is in the composition of floras and faunas. The larger predators are lopped off
the apex of the pyramid; food chains, for the first time in history, become shorter rather than longer. Domesticated species from other lands are substituted for wild ones, and wild ones are moved to new habitats. In this world-wide pooling of faunas and floras, some species get out of bounds as pests and diseases, others are extinguished. Such effects are seldom intended or foreseen; they represent unpredicted and often untraceable readjustments in the structure. Agricultural science is largely a race between the emergence of new pests and the emergence of new techniques for their control.
Another change touches the flow of energy through plants and animals and its return to the soil. Fertility is the ability of soil to receive, store, and release energy. Agriculture, by overdrafts on the soil, or by too radical a substitution of domes- tic for native species in the superstructure, may derange the channels of flow or deplete storage. Soils depleted of their storage, or of the organic matter which anchors it, wash away faster than they form. This is erosion.
Waters, like soil, are part of the energy circuit. Industry, by polluting waters or obstructing them with dams, may exclude the plants and animals necessary to keep energy in circulation.
Transportation brings about another basic change: the plants or animals grown in one region are now consumed and returned to the soil in another. Transportation taps the energy stored in rocks, and in the air, and uses it elsewhere; thus we fertilize the garden with nitrogen gleaned by the guano birds from the fishes of seas on the other side of the Equator. Thus the formerly localized and self-contained circuits are pooled on a world- wide scale.
The process of altering the pyramid for human occupation releases stored energy, and this often gives rise, during the pioneering period, to a decep- tive exuberance of plant and animal life, both wild and tame. These releases of biotic capital tend to becloud or postpone the penalties of violence.
[ . . . ] This thumbnail sketch of land as an energy circuit conveys three basic ideas:
1 That land is not merely soil. 2 That the native plants and animals kept the
energy circuit open; others may or may not.
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3 That man-made changes are of a different order than evolutionary changes, and have effects more comprehensive than is intended or foreseen.
These ideas, collectively, raise two basic issues: Can the land adjust itself to the new order? Can the desired alterations be accomplished with less violence?
Biotas seem to differ in their capacity to sustain violent conversion. Western Europe, for example, carries a far different pyramid than Caesar found there. Some large animals are lost; swampy forests have become meadows or plowland; many new plants and animals are introduced, some of which escape as pests; the remaining natives are greatly changed in distribution and abundance. Yet the soil is still there and, with the help of imported nutri- ents, still fertile; the waters flow normally; the new structure seems to function and to persist. There is no visible stoppage or derangement of the circuit.
Western Europe, then, has a resistant biota. Its inner processes are tough, elastic, resistant to strain. No matter how violent the alterations, the pyramid, so far, has developed some new modus vivendi which preserves its habitability for man, and for most of the other natives.
Japan seems to present another instance of radical conversion without disorganization.
Most other civilized regions, and some as yet barely touched by civilization, display various stages of disorganization, varying from initial symptoms to advanced wastage. In Asia Minor and North Africa diagnosis is confused by climatic changes, which may have been either the cause or the effect of advanced wastage. In the United States the degree of disorganization varies locally; it is worst in the Southwest, the Ozarks, and parts of the South, and least in New England and the Northwest. Better land uses may still arrest it in the less advanced regions. In parts of Mexico, South America, South Africa, and Australia a violent and accelerating wastage is in progress, but I cannot assess the prospects.
This almost worldwide display of disorganiza- tion in the land was to be similar to disease in an animal, except that it never culminates in complete disorganization or death. The land recovers, but at some reduced level of complexity, and with a reduced carrying capacity for people, plants, and animals. Many biotas currently regarded as “lands
of opportunity” are in fact already subsisting on exploitative agriculture, i.e. they have already exceeded their sustained carrying capacity. Most of South America is overpopulated in this sense.
In arid regions we attempt to offset the process of wastage by reclamation, but it is only too evid- ent that the prospective longevity of reclamation projects is often short. In our own West, the best of them may not last a century.
The combined evidence of history and ecology seems to support one general deduction: the less violent the man-made changes, the greater the prob- ability of successful readjustment in the pyramid. Violence, in turn, varies with human population density; a dense population requires a more violent conversion. In this respect, North America has a better chance for permanence than Europe, if she can contrive to limit her density.
This deduction runs counter to our current philosophy, which assumes that because a small increase in density enriched human life, that an indefinite increase will enrich it indefinitely. Eco- logy knows of no density relationship that holds for indefinitely wide limits. All gains from density are subject to a law of diminishing returns.
Whatever may be the equation for men and land, it is improbable that we as yet know all its terms. Recent discoveries in mineral and vitamin nutrition reveal unsuspected dependencies in the up-circuit: incredibly minute quantities of certain substances determine the value of soils to plants, of plants to animals. What of the down-circuit? What of the vanishing species, the preservation of which we now regard as an esthetic luxury? They helped build the soil; in what unsuspected ways may they be essential to its maintenance? Professor Weaver proposes that we use prairie flowers to reflocculate the wasting soils of the dust bowl; who knows for what purpose cranes and condors, otters and grizzlies may some day be used? . . .
It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land, and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense.
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Perhaps the most serious obstacle impeding the evolution of a land ethic is the fact that our educational and economic system is headed away from, rather than toward, an intense consciousness of land. Your true modern is separated from the land by many middlemen, and by innumerable physical gadgets. He has no vital relation to it; to him it is the space between cities on which crops grow. Turn him loose for a day on the land, and if the spot does not happen to be a golf links or a “scenic” area, he is bored stiff. If crops could be raised by hydroponics instead of farming, it would suit him very well. Synthetic substitutes for wood, leather, wool, and other natural land products suit him better than the originals. In short, land is something he has “outgrown.”
Almost equally serious as an obstacle to a land ethic is the attitude of the farmer for whom the land is still an adversary, or a taskmaster that keeps him in slavery. Theoretically, the mechanization of farming ought to cut the farmer’s chains, but whether it really does is debatable.
One of the requisites for an ecological compre- hension of land is an understanding of ecology, and this is by no means co-extensive with “education”; in fact, much higher education seems deliberately to avoid ecological concepts. An understanding of ecology does not necessarily originate in courses bearing ecological labels; it is quite as likely to be labeled geography, botany, agronomy, history, or economics. This is as it should be, but whatever the label, ecological training is scarce.
The case for a land ethic would appear hopeless but for the minority which is in obvious revolt against these “modern” trends.
The “key-log” which must be moved to release the evolutionary process for an ethic is simply this: quit thinking about decent land-use as solely an economic problem. Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
It of course goes without saying that economic feasibility limits the tether of what can or cannot be done for land. It always has and it always will. The fallacy the economic determinists have tied around our collective neck, and which we now need to cast off, is the belief that economics determines all
land use. This is simply not true. An innumerable host of actions and attitudes, comprising perhaps the bulk of all land relations, is determined by the land-users’ tastes and predilections, rather than by his purse. The bulk of all land relations hinges on investments of time, forethought, skill, and faith rather than on investments of cash. As a land-user thinketh, so is he.
I have purposely presented the land ethic as a product of social evolution because nothing so important as an ethic is ever “written.” Only the most superficial student of history supposes that Moses “wrote” the Decalogue; it evolved in the minds of a thinking community, and Moses wrote a tentative summary of it for a “seminar.” I say tentative because evolution never stops.
The evolution of a land ethic is an intellectual as well as emotional process. Conservation is paved with good intentions which prove to be futile, or even dangerous, because they are devoid of critical understanding either of the land, or of economic land use. I think it is a truism that as the ethical frontier advances from the individual to the com- munity, its intellectual content increases.
The mechanism of operation is the same for any ethic: social approbation for right actions: social disapproval for wrong actions.
By and large, our present problem is one of attitudes and implements. We are remodeling the Alhambra with a steam-shovel, and we are proud of our yardage. We shall hardly relinquish the shovel has many good points, but we are in need of gentler and more objective criteria for its successful use.
Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization.
Wilderness was never a homogeneous raw material. It was very diverse, and the resulting artifacts are very diverse. These differences in the end-product are known as cultures. The rich diversity of the world’s cultures reflects a corresponding diversity in the wilds that gave them birth.
For the first time in the history of the human species, two changes are now impending. One is the exhaustion of wilderness in the more habitable portions of the globe. The other is the worldwide
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hybridization of cultures through modern transport and industrialization. Neither can be prevented, and perhaps should not be, but the question arises whether, by some slight amelioration of the impending changes, certain values can be preserved that would otherwise be lost.
To the laborer in the sweat of his labor, the raw stuff on his anvil is an adversary to be conquered. So was wilderness an adversary to the pioneer.
But to the laborer in repose, able for the moment to cast a philosophical eye on his world, that same raw stuff is something to be loved and cherished, because it gives definition and meaning to his life. This is a plea for the preservation of some tag-ends of wilderness, as museum pieces, for the edification of those who may one day wish to see, feel, or study the origins of their cultural inheritance.
“Orthodox Planning and The North End” from The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961)
Despite many good intentions, urban planning in the twentieth century often proceeded in directions that were profoundly unsustainable. Planners promoted freeways and other automobile infrastructure without consider- ing their sprawl-inducing impacts, authorized the bulldozing of vibrant older urban neighborhoods for redevelop- ment into bland, modernist apartment blocks, allowed the destruction of natural landscape features such as streams and wetlands, and aided in the segregation of racial or socioeconomic groups through zoning and red-lining. Such actions were often camouflaged behind an image of the planner as detached, objective expert, with the authority of scientific method justifying decisions that were essentially subjective or political in nature.
Writers such as Mumford and William H. Whyte complained vigorously against modernist urban planning during the 1940s and 1950s. Paul and Percival Goodman’s 1947 book Communitas: Ways of Livelihood and Means of Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 1947) was an especially profound critique of modernist city building, as well as a visionary exploration of alternatives, although this work did not receive wide circulation until reissued in the 1960s with a new introduction by Mumford. However, Jane Jacobs’ 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities was the bombshell that shocked many people around the world into questioning prevailing modes of urban planning. An editor at an architectural magazine, Jacobs had been living in New York City’s Greenwich Village when plans were announced for an expressway through the community. At the time, the city’s planning czar, Robert Moses, had bulldozed a network of expressways and bridges through dozens of other neighborhoods. However, Jacobs and her neighbors organized opposition and eventually defeated the city’s plans. In the process she grew to appreciate even more the rich community life of this older urban neighborhood, and observed as well the effect of modernist redevelopment on other older neighborhoods such as Boston’s West End, a tight-knit working-class community destroyed in order to create a cluster of bland, modernist apartment buildings for more affluent residents.
In The Death and Life Jacobs described in detail what makes dense urban neighborhoods work, and how modern city-building practices undermine many of the qualities that encourage pedestrian use of the street, neighborhood contacts, and a thriving local economy of small businesses. Her writing helped lay the groundwork for the field of environmental design research, in which later investigators carefully studied how people actually used buildings, streets, and neighborhoods, rather than simply following some abstract set of architectural criteria. Jacobs’ specific emphasis on pedestrian-oriented urban form also served as an inspiration to many later urban activists, including the New Urbanists.
In her later writings Jacobs focused on questions related to local and regional economies. In her book The Economy of Cities (New York: Random House, 1969) she portrayed cities as the economic engines that have made possible broader development of societies. In Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Principles of
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Economic Life (New York: Random House, 1984), she expanded this argument, arguing particularly that to grow and be successful cities and urban regions need to gradually replace the goods that they had previously imported by producing them internally. In her emphasis on the importance of networks of small firms, she foreshadowed much later work by academic economists, and comes close to the import-substitution method recommended by Shuman (see Part Two).
In this selection Jacobs describes her reaction to proposed redevelopment of Boston’s North End, a dense, tight-knit Italian-American community that she held up repeatedly as an example of a vibrant urban neighbor- hood. She contrasts in particular the attitude of planners with the reality of life in the neighborhood as she observed it. Related critiques of mainstream urban planning have since been developed by many other writers. Beginning in the 1970s neo-Marxist authors such as David Harvey, Manuel Castells, and Robert Beauregard argued that urban planners have helped carry out the agendas of powerful class or economic interests, rather than working as a more independent force for social change. In her book Dreaming the Rational City (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1983), Christine Boyer provided a detailed historical analysis of how urban planning has been used to enforce the dominant discourses and power of capitalist elites. And in books such as City of Quartz (1992), Planet of Slums (2006), and Evil Paradises (2007), Mike Davis has examined the often bizarre and inequitable urban landscapes created by capitalism and local governments working hand-in-hand.
The effect of all these analyses was to throw prevailing modes of urban planning into question during the second half of the twentieth century, to challenge the view of the planner as a detached, scientific expert, and to fuel calls for greater public participation and contextual, culturally informed understandings of urban problems. But Jacobs was the clearest, most down-to-earth, and most biting of these critics, and her critique laid the groundwork for much reevaluation of the field.
Jacobs’ analysis raises many questions today about urban sustainability planning. If “an intricate and close- grained diversity of uses” is essential to a vibrant neighborhood, how do we ensure that? How do we preserve and enhance older neighborhood environments rather than rebuilding them? And most importantly, how do we avoid the trap of following “orthodox” planning ideas and pseudo-scientific expertise into sterile and counterproductive solutions, and instead base our action on an understanding of people’s reality on the ground?
There is nothing economically or socially inevitable about either the decay of old cities or the fresh- minted decadence of the new unurban urbanization. On the contrary, no other aspect of our economy and society has been more purposefully manipulated for a full quarter of a century to achieve precisely what we are getting. Extraordinary governmental financial incentives have been required to achieve this degree of monotony, sterility and vulgarity. Decades of preaching, writing and exhorting by experts have gone into convincing us and our legislators that mush like this must be good for us, as long as it comes bedded with grass.
Automobiles are often conveniently tagged as the villains responsible for the ills of cities and the disappointments and futilities of city planning. But the destructive effects of automobiles are much
less a cause than a symptom of our incompetence at city building. Of course planners, including the highwaymen with fabulous sums of money and enormous powers at their disposal, are at a loss to make automobiles and cities compatible with one another. They do not know what to do with automobiles in cities because they do not know how to plan for workable and vital cities anyhow – with or without automobiles.
The simple needs of automobiles are more easily understood and satisfied than the complex needs of cities, and a growing number of planners and designers have come to believe that if they can only solve the problems of traffic, they will thereby have solved the major problem of cities. Cities have much more intricate economic and social concerns than automobile traffic. How can
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you know what to try with traffic until you know how the city itself works, and what else it needs to do with its streets? You can’t.
It may be that we have become so feckless as a people that we no longer care how things do work, but only what kind of quick, easy outer impression they give. If so, there is little hope for our cities or probably for much else in our society. But I do not think this is so.
Specifically, in the case of planning for cities, it is clear that a large number of good and earnest people do care deeply about building and renew- ing. Despite some corruption, and considerable greed for the other man’s vineyard, the intentions going into the messes we make are, on the whole, exemplary. Planners, architects of city design, and those they have led along with them in their beliefs are not consciously disdainful of the importance of knowing how things work. On the contrary, they have gone to great pains to learn what the saints and sages of modern orthodox planning have said about how cities ought to work and what ought to be good for people and businesses in them. They take this with such devotion that when con- tradictory reality intrudes, threatening to shatter their dearly won learning, they must shrug reality aside.
Consider, for example, the orthodox planning reaction to a district called the North End in Boston. This is an old, low-rent area merging into the heavy industry of the waterfront, and it is officially con- sidered Boston’s worst slum and civic shame. It embodies attributes which all enlightened people know are evil because so many wise men have said they are evil. Not only is the North End bumped right up against industry, but worse still it has all kinds of working places and commerce mingled in the greatest complexity with its residences. It has the highest concentration of dwelling units, on the land that is used for dwelling units, of any part of Boston, and indeed one of the highest concentra- tions to be found in any American city. It has little parkland. Children play in the streets. Instead of super-blocks, or even decently large blocks, it has very small blocks; in planning parlance it is “badly cut up with wasteful streets.” Its buildings are old. Everything conceivable is presumably wrong with the North End. In orthodox planning terms it is a three-dimensional textbook of “megalopolis” in the last stages of depravity. The North End is thus a
recurring assignment for MIT and Harvard planning and architectural students, who now and again pursue, under the guidance of their teachers, the paper exercise of converting it into super-blocks and park promenades, wiping away its nonconform- ing uses, transforming it to an ideal of order and gentility so simple it could be engraved on the head of a pin.
Twenty years ago, when I first happened to see the North End, its buildings – town houses of different kinds and sizes converted to flats, and four- or five-story tenements built to house the flood of immigrants first from Ireland, then from Eastern Europe and finally from Sicily – were badly overcrowded, and the general effect was of a dis- trict taking a terrible physical beating and certainly desperately poor.
When I saw the North End again in 1959, I was amazed at the change. Dozens and dozens of build- ings had been rehabilitated. Instead of mattresses against the windows there were Venetian blinds and glimpses of fresh paint. Many of the small, converted houses now had only one or two families in them instead of the old crowded three or four. Some of the families in the tenements (as I learned later, visiting inside) had uncrowded themelves by throwing two older apartments together, and had equipped these with bathrooms, new kitchens and the like. I looked down a narrow alley, thinking to find at least here the old, squalid North End, but no: more neatly repainted brickwork, new blinds, and a burst of music as a door opened. Indeed, this was the only city district I had ever seen – or have seen to this day – in which the sides of buildings around parking lots had not been left raw and amputated, but repaired and painted as neatly as if they were intended to be seen. Mingled all among the buildings for living were an incredible number of splendid food stores, as well as such enterprises as upholstery making, metal working, carpentry, food processing. The streets were alive with children playing, people shopping, people strolling, people talking. Had it not been a cold January day, there would surely have been people sitting.
The general street atmosphere of buoyancy, friendliness and good health was so infectious that I began asking directions of people just for the fun of getting in on some talk. I had seen a lot of Boston in the past couple of days, most of it sorely
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distressing, and this struck me, with relief, as the healthiest place in the city. But I could not imagine where the money had come from for the rehab- ilitation, because it is almost impossible today to get any appreciable mortgage money in districts of American cities that are not either high-rent, or else imitations of suburbs. To find out, I went into a bar and restaurant (where an animated conversation about fishing was in progress) and called a Boston planner I know.
“Why in the world are you down in the North End?” he said. “Money? Why, no money or work has gone into the North End. Nothing’s going on down there. Eventually, yes, but not yet. That’s a slum!”
“It doesn’t seem like a slum to me,” I said. “Why, that’s the worst slum in the city. It has
two hundred and seventy-five dwelling units to the net acre! I hate to admit we have anything like that in Boston, but it’s a fact.”
“Do you have any other figures on it?” I asked. “Yes, funny thing. It has among the lowest
delinquency, disease and infant mortality rates in the city. It also has the lowest ratio of rent to income in the city. Boy, are those people getting bargains. Let’s see . . . the child population is just about average for the city, on the nose. The death rate is low, 8.8 per thousand, against the average city rate of 11.2. The TB death rate is very low, less than 1 per ten thousand, can’t understand it, it’s lower even than Brookline’s. In the old days the North End used to be the city’s worst spot for tuberculosis, but all that has changed. Well, they must be strong people. Of course it’s a terrible slum.”
“You should have more slums like this,” I said. “Don’t tell me there are plans to wipe this out. You ought to be down here learning as much as you can from it.”
“I know how you feel,” he said. “I often go down there myself just to walk around the streets and feel that wonderful, cheerful street life. Say, what you ought to do, you ought to come back and go down in the summer if you think it’s fun now. You’d be crazy about it in summer. But of course we have to rebuild it eventually. We’ve got to get those people off the streets.”
Here was a curious thing. My friend’s instincts told him the North End was a good place, and his social statistics confirmed it. But everything he had learned as a physical planner about what is
good for people and good for city neighborhoods, everything that made him an expert told him the North End had to be a bad place.
The leading Boston savings banker, “a man ‘way up there in the power structure,’” to whom my friend referred me for my inquiry about the money, confirmed what I learned, in the meantime, from people in the North End. The money had not come through the grace of the great American banking system, which now knows enough about planning to know a slum as well as the planners do. “No sense in lending money into the North End,” the banker said. “It’s a slum! It’s still getting some immigrants! Furthermore, back in the Depression it had a very large number of foreclosures; bad record.” (I had heard about this too, in the mean time, and how families had worked and pooled their resources to buy back some of those foreclosed buildings.)
The largest mortgage loans that had been fed into this district of some 15,000 people in the quarter-century since the Great Depression were for $3,000, the banker told me, “and very, very few of those.” There had been some others for $1,000 and for $2,000. The rehabilitation work had been almost entirely financed by business and housing earnings within the district, plowed back in, and by skilled work bartered among residents and relatives of residents.
By this time I knew that this inability to borrow for improvement was a galling worry to North Enders, and that furthermore some North Enders were worried because it seemed impossible to get new building in the area except at the price of seeing themselves and their community wiped out in the fashion of the students’ dreams of a city Eden, a fate which they knew was not academic because it had already smashed completely a socially similar – although physically more spacious – nearby district called the West End. They were worried because they were aware also that patch and fix with nothing else could not do forever. “Any chance of loans for new construction in the North End?” I asked the banker.
“Absolutely not!” he said, sounding impatient at my denseness. “That’s a slum!”
Bankers, like planners, have theories about cities on which they act. They have gotten their theories from the same intellectual sources as the planners. Bankers and government administrative officials who guarantee mortgages do not invent planning
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theories nor, surprisingly, even economic doctrine about cities. They are enlightened nowadays, and they pick up their ideas from idealists, a generation late. Since theoretical city planning has embraced no major new ideas for considerably more than a generation, theoretical planners, financers and bureaucrats are all just about even today.
And to put it bluntly, they are all in the same stage of elaborately learned superstition as medical science was early in the last century, when physi- cians put their faith in bloodletting, to draw out the evil humors which were believed to cause disease. With bloodletting, it took years of learning to know precisely which veins, by what rituals, were to be opened for what symptoms. A superstructure of technical complication was erected in such dead- pan detail that the literature still sounds almost plausible. However, because people, even when they are thoroughly enmeshed in descriptions of reality which are at variance with reality, are still seldom devoid of the powers of observation and independent thought, the science of bloodletting, over most of its long sway, appears usually to have been tempered with a certain amount of common sense. Or it was tempered until it reached its highest peaks of technique in, of all places, the young United States. Bloodletting went wild here. It had an enormously influential proponent in Dr Benjamin Rush, still revered as the greatest statesman– physician of our revolutionary and federal periods, and a genius of medical administration. Dr Rush Got Things Done. Among the things he got done, some of them good and useful, were to develop, practice, teach and spread the custom of bloodletting in cases where prudence or mercy had heretofore restrained its use. He and his students drained the blood of very young children, of consumptives, of the greatly aged, of almost anyone unfortunate to be sick in his realms of influence. His extreme practices aroused the alarm and horror of European bloodletting physicians. And yet as late as 1851, a committee appointed by the State Legislature of New York solemnly defended the thoroughgoing use of bloodletting. It scathingly ridiculed and censured a physician, William Turner, who had the temerity to write a pamphlet criticizing Dr Rush’s doctrines and calling “the practice of taking blood in diseases contrary to common sense, to general experience, to enlightened reason and to
the manifest laws of the divine Providence.” Sick people needed fortifying, not draining, said Dr Turner, and he was squelched.
Medical analogies, applied to social organisms, are apt to be farfetched, and there is no point in mistaking mammalian chemistry for what occurs in a city. But analogies as to what goes on in the brains of earnest and learned men, dealing with complex phenomena they do not understand at all and trying to make do with a pseudoscience, do have a point. As in the pseudoscience of bloodletting, just so in the pseudoscience of city rebuilding and planning, years of learning and a plethora of subtle and complicated dogma have arisen on a foundation of nonsense. The tools of technique have steadily been perfected. Naturally, in time, forceful and able men, admired administrators, having swallowed the initial fallacies and having been provisioned with tools and with public con- fidence, go on logically to the greatest destructive excesses, which prudence or mercy might pre- viously have forbade. Bloodletting could heal only by accident or insofar as it broke the rules, until the time when it was abandoned in favor of the hard, complex business of assembling, using and testing, bit by bit, true descriptions of reality drawn not from how it ought to be, but from how it is. The pseudoscience of city planning and its companion, the art of city design, have not yet broken with the specious comfort of wishes, familiar superstitions, oversimplifications, and symbols and have not yet embarked upon the adventure of probing the real world. . . .
One principle emerges so ubiquitously, and in so many and such complex different forms, that [it] . . . becomes the heart of my argument. This ubiquitous principle is the need of cities for a most intricate and close-grained diversity of uses that give each other constant mutual support, both economically and socially. The components of this diversity can differ enormously, but they must supplement each other in certain concrete ways.
I think that unsuccessful city areas are areas which lack this kind of intricate mutual support, and that the science of city planning and the art of city design, in real life for real cities, must become the science and art of catalyzing and nourishing these close-grained working relationships.
“Plight and Prospect” from Design With Nature (1969)
Ian L. McHarg
Born in 1921 near Glasgow in Scotland, Ian McHarg grew up observing the spread of that industrial city, with all its poverty and grime, and found solace in long countryside rambles. The experience convinced him that nature was essential to humanize the city. After service in World War II and training in landscape architecture at Harvard he returned home to find many of his pastoral childhood haunts obliterated by urban development. Saddened, he embarked on a teaching and consulting career in which he continually sought ways to reintegrate nature with the city. He founded and for 30 years directed the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, and also founded a well-known consulting firm, Wallace, McHarg, Roberts & Todd, which was involved in creating regional plans and large-scale design of new communities.
McHarg’s 1969 book, Design With Nature (New York: Natural History Press, 1969), played a crucial role in bringing together environmental and urban planning concerns in the middle of the twentieth century. Part personal statement, part clarion call against environmental destruction, and part description of a method of environmental analysis using overlay maps, the book sold more than 250,000 copies. Along with other works such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1962), calling attention to the dangers of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, and Barry Commoner’s The Closing Circle (New York: Knopf, 1971), likewise warning against the pollution and resource-consumption impacts of technological society, it helped catalyze the modern environmental movement. But it did so in a way that was more directly related to city planning, landscape architecture, and urban design, exhorting these professions to integrate elements of the natural world into their work. As such, McHarg can be seen as the inheritor of the ecological concerns of Mumford and the Regional Planning Association of America, trying on a more specific level to figure out how urban growth might coexist with the natural landscape. To do so he used the available technology of the time in the form of hand-drawn mapping overlays of information derived from the natural sciences to determine where development should go. This method was a precursor to today’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) computer-based methods.
In retrospect McHarg can be seen as taking an overly optimistic view of the power of ecological science to order urban development, a view better fitted with a technocratic approach toward sustainable development than Leopold’s call for inner change. McHarg can also be criticized for ignoring the role of powerful social, cultural, and economic forces in promoting unsustainable development, and for a detached, Olympian rhetoric far different than Jacobs’ emphasis on first-hand experience of life in a city’s streets. But whatever his shortcomings, in Design With Nature – a book filled with lovely black-and-white photographs of life in all its
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forms – McHarg succeeded in issuing an eloquent alarm call about the unsustainability of twentieth-century development patterns, especially the rising tide of suburban growth that was the dominant and most unsus- tainable aspect of the century’s urbanization. That alarm call and McHarg’s invitation to coordinate design and nature resonated deeply with a generation.
Clearly the problem of man and nature is not one of providing a decorative background for the human play, or even ameliorating the grim city: it is the necessity of sustaining nature as source of life, milieu, teacher, sanctum, challenge and, most of all, of rediscovering nature’s corollary of the unknown in the self, the source of meaning.
There are still great realms of empty ocean, deserts reaching to the curvature of the earth, silent, ancient forests and rocky coasts, glaciers and volcanoes, but what will we do with them? There are rich contented farms, and idyllic villages, strong barns and white-steepled churches, tree-lined streets and covered bridges, but these are residues of another time. There are, too, the silhouettes of all the Manhattans, great and small, the gleaming golden windows of corporate images – expressionless prisms suddenly menaced by another of our creations, the supersonic trans- port whose sonic boom may reduce this image to a sea of shattered glass.1
But what do we say now, with our acts in city and countryside? While I first addressed this ques- tion to Scotland in my youth, today the world directs the same question to the United States. What is our performance and example? What are the visible testaments to the American mercantile creed – the hamburger stand, gas station, diner, the ubiquitous billboards, sagging wires, the parking lot, car cemetery and that most complete conjunc- tion of land rapacity and human disillusion, the subdivision. It is all but impossible to avoid the highway out of town, for here, arrayed in all its glory, is the quintessence of vulgarity, bedecked to give the maximum visibility to the least of our accomplishments.
And what of the cities? Think of the imprison- ing gray areas that encircle the center. From here the sad suburb is an unrealizable dream. Call them no-place, although they have many names. Race and hate, disease, poverty, rancor and despair, urine and spit live here in the shadows. United in
poverty and ugliness, their symbol is the abandoned carcasses of automobiles, broken glass, alleys of rubbish and garbage. Crime consorts with disease, group fights group, the only emancipation is the parked car.
What of the heart of the city, where the gleaming towers rise from the dirty skirts of poverty? Is it like midtown Manhattan where 20 percent of the population was found to be indistinguishable from the patients in mental hospitals? Both stimulus and stress live here with the bitch goddess Success. As you look at the faceless prisms do you recognize the home of anomie?
Can you find the river that first made the city? Look behind the unkempt industry, cross the grassy railroad tracks and you will find the rotting piers and there is the great river, scummy and brown, wastes and sewage bobbing easily up and down with the tide, endlessly renewed.
If you fly to the city by day you will see it first as a smudge of smoke on the horizon. As you approach, the outlines of its towers will be revealed as soft silhouettes in the hazardous haze. Nearer you will perceive conspicuous plumes which, you learn, belong to the proudest names in industry. Our products are household words but it is clear that our industries are not yet housebroken. Drive from the airport through the banks of gas storage tanks and the interminable refineries. Consider how dangerous they are, see their cynical spume, observe their ugliness. Refine they may, but refined they are not.
You will drive on an expressway, a clumsy con- crete form, untouched by either humanity or art, testament to the sad illusion that there can be a solution for the unbridled automobile. It is ironic that this greatest public investment in cities has also financed their conquest. See the scars of the battle in the remorseless carving, the dismembered neighborhoods, the despoiled parks. Manufacturers are producing automobiles faster than babies are being born. Think of the depredations yet to
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be accomplished by myopic highway builders to accommodate these toxic vehicles. You have plenty of time to consider in the long peak hour pauses of spasmodic driving in the blue gas corridors.
You leave the city and turn towards the coun- tryside. But can you find it? To do so you will follow the paths of those who tried before you. Many stayed to build. But those who did so first are now deeply embedded in the fabric of the city. So as you go you transect the rings of the thwarted and disillusioned who are encapsulated in the city as nature endlessly eludes pursuit.
You can tell when you have reached the edge of the countryside for there are many emblems – the cadavers of old trees piled in untidy heaps at the edge of the razed deserts, the magnificent machines for land despoliation, for felling forests, filling marshes, culverting streams, and sterilizing farm- land, making thick brown sediments of the creeks.
Is this the countryside, the green belt – or rather the greed belt, where the farmer sells land rather than crops, where the developer takes the public resource of the city’s hinterland and subdivides it to create a private profit and a public cost? Certainly here is the area where public powers are weakest – either absent or elastic – where the future costs of streets, sidewalks and sewers, schools, police and fire protection are unspoken. Here are the meek mulcted, the refugees thwarted.
[ . . . ] Within the metropolitan region natural features
will vary, but it is possible to select certain of these that exist throughout and determine the degree to which they allow or discourage contemplated land uses. While these terms are relative, optimally development should occur on valuable or perilous natural-process land only when superior values are created or compensation can be awarded.
A complete study would involve identifying natural processes that performed work for man, those which offered protection or were hostile, those which were unique or especially precious and those values which were vulnerable. In the first category fall natural water purification, atmospheric pollution dispersal, climatic amelioration, water storage, flood, drought, and erosion control, topsoil accumulation, forest and wildlife inventory increase. Areas that provided protection or were dangerous would include the estuarine marshes and the floodplains, among others. The important areas of geological,
ecological, and historic interest would represent the next category, while beach dunes, spawning and breeding grounds and water catchment areas would be included in the vulnerable areas.
No such elaborate examination has been at- tempted in this study [on open space preservation in the Philadelphia region]. However, eight natural processes have been identified and these have been mapped and measured. Each one has been described with an eye to permissiveness and prohibition to certain land uses. It is from this analysis that the place of nature in the metropolis will be derived.
Surface water. In principle, only land uses that are inseparable from waterfront locations should occupy them; and even these should be limited to those which do not diminish the present or pro-spective value of surface water for supply, recreation or amenity. Demands for industrial waterfront locations in the region are extravagantly predicted as fifty linear miles. Thus, even satisfying this demand, five thousand miles could remain in a natural condition.
Land uses consonant with this principle would include port and harbor facilities, marinas, water and sewage treatment plants, water-related and, in certain cases, water-using industries. In the category of land uses that would not damage these water resources fall agriculture, forestry, recreation, institutional and residential open space.
Marshes. In principle, land-use policy for marshes should reflect the roles of flood and water storage, wildlife habitat and fish spawning grounds. Land uses that do not diminish the operation of the primary roles include recreation, certain types of agriculture (notably cranberry bogs) and isolated urban development.
Floodplains. Increasingly, the fifty-year, or 2 percent, probability floodplain is being accepted as that area from which all development should be excluded save for functions which are unharmed by flooding or for uses that are inseparable from floodplains. In the former category fall agriculture, forestry, recreation, institutional open space and open space for housing. In the category of land uses inseparable from floodplains are ports and harbors, marinas, water-related industry and – under certain circumstances – water-using industry.
Aquifers. An aquifer is a water-bearing stratum of rock, gravel or sand, a definition so general as to encompass enormous areas of land. In the region
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under study, the great deposits of porous material in the Coastal Plain are immediately distinguishable from all other aquifers in the region because of their extent and capacity. The aquifer parallel to Philadelphia in New Jersey has an estimated yield of one billion gallons per day. Clearly this valuable resource should not only be protected, but managed. Development that includes the disposal of toxic wastes, biological discharges or sewage should be prohibited. The use of injection wells, by which pollutants are disposed of into aquifers, should be discontinued.
Development using sewers is clearly more satis- factory than septic tanks, where aquifers can be contaminated, but it is well to recognize that even sewers leak significant quantities of material and are thus a hazard.
Land-use prescription is more difficult for aquifers than for any other category, as these vary with respect to yield and quality, yet it is clear that agriculture, forestry, recreation and low-density development pose no danger to this resource while industry and urbanization in general do.
All prospective land uses should simply be examined against the degree to which they imperil the aquifer; those which do should be prohibited. It is important to recognize that aquifers may be managed effectively by the impoundment of rivers and streams that transect them.
Like many other cities, Philadelphia derives its water supply from major rivers which are foul. This water is elaborately disinfected and is potable. In contrast to the prevailing view that one should select dirty water for human consumption and make it safe by superchlorination, it seems preferable to select pure water in the first place. Such water is abundant in the existing aquifers; it must be protected from the fate of the rivers.
Aquifer recharge areas. As the name implies, such areas are the points of interchange between surface water and aquifers. In any system there are likely to be critical interchanges. It is the movement of ground to surface water that contributes water to rivers and streams in periods of low flow. Obviously the point of interchange is also a location where the normally polluted rivers may contaminate the relatively clean – and in many cases, pure – water resources in aquifers. These points of interchange are then critical for the management and protection of groundwater resources. . . .
Steep lands. Steep lands, and the ridges which they constitute, are central to the problems of flood control and erosion. Slopes in excess of 12° are not recommended for cultivation by the Soil Conservation Service. The same source suggests that, for reasons of erosion, these lands are unsuit- able for development. The recommendations of the Soil Conservation Service are that steep slopes should be in forest and that their cultivation be abandoned.
The role of erosion control and diminution of the velocity of runoff is the principle problem here. Land uses compatible with this role would be mainly forestry and recreation, with low-density housing permitted on occasion.
Prime agricultural land. Prime agricultural soils represent the highest level of agricultural pro- ductivity; they are uniquely suitable for intensive cultivation with no conservation hazards. It is extremely difficult to defend agricultural lands when their cash value can be multiplied tenfold by employment for relatively cheap housing. Yet the farm is the basic factory – the farmer is the country’s best landscape gardener and maintenance work force, the custodian of much scenic beauty. Mere market values of farmland do not reflect the long-term value of the irreplaceable nature of these living soils. An omnibus protection of all farmland is difficult to defend; but protection of the best soils in a metropolitan area would appear not only defensible, but clearly desirable. . . .
Forests and woodlands. The natural vegetative cover for most of this region is forest. Where present, it improves microclimate and it exercises a major balancing effect upon the water regimen – diminishing erosion, sedimentation, flood and drought. The scenic role of woodlands is ap- parent, as is their provision of a habitat for game; their recreational potential is among the highest of all categories. In addition, the forest is a low- maintenance, self-perpetuating landscape.
Forests can be employed for timber production, water management, wildlife habitats, as airsheds, recreation or for any combination of these uses. In addition, they can absorb development in concen- trations to be determined by the demands of the natural process they are required to satisfy.
[ . . . ] The American dream envisioned only the single-
family house, the smiling wife and healthy children,
43“ P L I G H T A N D P R O S P E C T ”
O N E
the two-car garage, eye-level oven, foundation planting and lawn, the school near by and the church of your choice. It did not see that a subdivision is not a community, that the sum of subdivisions that make a suburb is not a community, that the sum of suburbs that compose the metropolitan fringe of the city does not constitute community nor does a metropolitan region. It did not see that the nature that awaited the subdivider was vastly different from the pockmarked landscape of ranch and split-level houses.
And so the transformation from city to metro- politan area contains all the thwarted hopes of those who fled the old city in search of clean government, better schools, a more beneficent, healthy and safe environment, those who sought to escape slums, congestion, crime, violence and disease.
There are many problems caused by the form of metropolitan growth – the lack of institution which diminishes the power to effect even local decisions, the trauma that is the journey to work, the increasingly difficult problem of providing community facilities. Perhaps the most serious is the degree to which the subdivision, the suburb and the metropolitan area deny the dream and have failed to provide the smiling image of the advertisements. The hucksters made the dream into a cheap thing, subdivided we fell, and the instinct to find more natural environments became the impulse that destroyed nature, an important ingre- dient in the social objective of this greatest of all population migrations.
Let us address ourselves to this problem. In earlier studies we saw that certain types of land are of such intrinsic value, or perform work for man best in a natural condition or, finally, contain such hazards to development that they should not be urbanized. Similarly, there are other areas that, for perfectly specific reasons, are intrinsically suitable for urban uses. . . .
[I]t transpires, as we have seen before, that if one selects eight natural features, and ranks them in order of value to the operation of natural pro- cess, then that group reversed will constitute a gross order of suitability for urbanization. These are: surface water, floodplains, marshes, aquifer recharge areas, aquifers, steep slopes, forests and woodlands, unforested land.
As was discussed in the study of metropolitan open space, natural features can absorb degrees
of development – ports, harbors, marinas, water- related and water-using industries must be on riparian land and may occupy floodplains. Surface water, floodplains and marshes may be used for recreation, agriculture and forestry. The aquifer recharge areas may absorb development in a way that does not seriously diminish percolation or pollute groundwater resources. Steep slopes, when forested, may absorb housing of not more than one house per three acres, while forests on relatively flat land may support a density of development up to one-acre clusters. . . .
[ . . . ] The application of this model requires elaborate
ecological inventories. Happily, recent techno- logical advances facilitate these. Earth satellites with remote scanning devices with high-level air photography and ground-level identification can provide rich data and time series information on the dynamism of many natural processes. When such inventories are completed they can be con- stituted into a value system. They can also be identified not only in degrees of value but of toler- ance and intolerance. These data, together with the conception of fitness, constitute the greatest immediate utility of the ecological model. Eco- systems can be viewed as fit for certain prospective land uses in a hierarchy. It is then possible to iden- tify environments as fit for ecosystems, organisms and land uses. The more intrinsically an environment is fit for any of these, the less work of adaptation is necessary. Such fitting is creative. It is then a maximum-benefit/minimum-cost solution.
These inventories would then constitute a description of the world, continent or ecosystem under study as phenomena, as interacting process, as a value system, as a range of environments exhibiting degrees of fitness for organisms, men and land use. It would exhibit intrinsic form. It could be seen to exhibit degrees of health and pathology. The inventories would include human artifacts as well as natural processes.
Certainly the most valuable application of such inventories is to determine locations for land uses and most particularly for urbanization. Urban growth in the United States today consists of emptying the continent toward its seaboard conurbations, which expand by accretion and coalesce. This offers the majority of future necropolitans the choice between the environments of Bedford Stuyvesant
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and Levittown. There must be other alternatives. Let us ask the land where are the best sites. Let us establish criteria for many different types of excellence responding to a wide range of choice. We seek not only the maximum range of differing excellences between city locations, but the maximum range of choice within each one. . . .
In the quest for survival, success and fulfillment, the ecological view offers an invaluable insight. It shows the way for the man who would be the enzyme of the biosphere – its steward, enhancing the creative fit of man–environment, realizing man’s design with nature.
1 When McHarg wrote in the late 1960s there were plans to develop and mass-produce super- sonic passenger airplanes, which were bitterly opposed by environmentalists in the 1970s and ultimately succumbed to public opposition. Only one – the Concorde – was ever built, and that could be used supersonically only over water. – Eds.
“The Development of Underdevelopment” from Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America (1967)
Andre Gunder Frank
In the 1960s a number of writers worldwide began to develop sophisticated analyses of why poverty persisted and even worsened despite the huge post-World War II international effort to promote global development. Development assistance by wealthy nations, they argued, was in many ways an extension of earlier colonization, and whatever its stated rationale, functioned to make poverty and inequality in what was then called the Third World worse rather than better. Many writers followed Marx in developing extensive “structuralist” critiques of the institutions and mechanisms of capitalist economics, and (we might say today) throwing the sustain- ability of global development patterns into question.
One of the most important strains of this growing chorus of criticism was “dependency theory,” largely developed in the late 1960s by a group of economists living in Latin America – Andre Gunder Frank, Raul Prebisch, Fernando Cadoszo, and James Caporaso – known as the Economic Commission on Latin America. Their work emerged in part in reaction to the trend within mainstream economics to focus on indigenous factors as the reason for the failure of the least developed countries (“LDCs”) to develop, thus “blaming the poor.”
The German-born Frank had studied in the United States with noted Marxist economist Paul Baran, whose 1957 book The Political Economy of Growth (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1957) had begun analyzing global underdevelopment. But after moving to Latin America in 1962 Frank came to see conventional develop- ment economics in the United States as “widely used to defend social irresponsibility, pseudo-scientific scientism, and political reaction.” “I had to learn from those who have been persecuted,” he wrote.1 He and others argued that the main effect of capitalist development efforts was to make Third World economies and societies increasingly dependent on wealthier nations in Europe and North America. Frank in particular argued that development created a hierarchy of “satellites,” each dependent on others above it in the global system, which took physical form within the towns and metropolitan areas of developing nations.
At mid-century many other writers began to question prevailing theories of economic development around the world, laying the groundwork for later calls for more sustainable forms of development. The work of famed Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdahl during the 1950s and 1960s focused heavily on inequity within capitalist systems. American economist Kenneth Boulding sought as early as the late 1940s to develop an ethical economics that could promote peace, cooperation, and a one-world perspective. Greek historian L.S. Stavrianos described the gradual growth of global inequality in works such as Global Rift: The Third World Comes of Age (New York: Morrow, 1981). Egyptian-born writer Samir Amin promoted theories similar to Frank’s in books such as Accumulation on a World Scale (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1974) and