Monday, August 27, 2007

Hallsmith: Key to Sustaiable Cities Response

In the Hallsmith reading, there were a few key concepts that should be noted. Her first is the concepts surrounding community. Community, to the author, is central to building a strong and sustainable society. She holds that there are four premises that define community. These are: communities were created to meet peoples needs, communities are systems and can be studied using a systems approach, community systems exist to meet all our needs, and the community system can be looked at holistically revealing the way the community interacts with its surroundings. This definition is critical to the rest of the reading as Hallsmith writes in depth of the various aspects of community. These premises are logical and follow each other. Communities were started to spread the workload around making life easier and more prosperous. This led to interactions explained in the systems approach. As this community grew, its needs expanded so to support these needs, the community also grew. Finally, by taking all of the parts of the community and looking at how they interact with other communities, a basic understanding of how prosperous and effective a community is.

The second key concept is how community is a whole system made up of many smaller parts. These parts include the three main actors in a community; individuals and households, organizations and businesses, and the government. These three branches work together to thrive and hopefully improve the community. She goes on to discuss how the three branches interact in very complicated ways and how by being helpful and cooperative, the three branches can live happier and more prosperous lives. This system can be studied using a system dynamics approach. This means of community study shows how complex a community interaction can be. It also shows how by expanding the parties involved, a system can spiral out of control very quickly and any slight feedback from an unintended party can quickly change the rest of the system yielding an unintended result. This is of importance when considering interactions with large parties such as in business situations.

The third key concept is one that is critical to a community’s longevity and that is sustainable development. She defines it as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (34) This concept is crucial for the ongoing prosperity of a community because if the people can no longer live and prosper the way it used to, and can no longer find new ways to prosper, the community will wither and die. It also relates to the way communities use their natural resources. Issues such as drought and water shortages can result from not planning sustainably. These issues are of serious concern and can lead to large scale destruction and abandonment of towns and cities. This is also important when looking at a global community. Current trends lean towards overuse and waste. Within the not too distant future, these luxuries may run out and our way of life will collapse. Threats like these are very real and should be seen as a motivation to find new and revolutionary ways to go about our daily lives with less impact on the earth. Hopefully enough attention will be paid to sustainability that it becomes an industry standard and our environmental footprint will be reduced.

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