Sunday, September 2, 2007

Chapter 7 Concepts of Green Urbanism

Chapter 7 in Green Urbanism by Timothy Beatley provides some interesting examples of how European Cities are implementing and promoting green values in their urban environments.
Key Concepts
· Cities are like forests and other natural systems. It’s important to stop separating an urban environment from a natural one. Instead treat them as one in the same where elements of both can exist.
· Asset building. The concept of building and protecting a city’s assets is a reoccurring theme in the books we have surveyed. An example in Green Urbanism is on page 199. The city of Stockholm realized how valuable their water was after they began to see its quality deteriorate. They ended up developing a comprehensive plan that treated and protected the water source from further damage. Any further development would have to fit into the plan that reflected the value of water to the city.
· Ecological Networks. Several European cities have set up ecological networks functioning at the national, state and local governmental levels. The national level provides the resources and a framework for the lower levels to work from. The higher governmental levels identify areas of interest, provide background studies, and map out the areas of ecological importance and potential. It is then up to the local areas to work out the details of the conservation plans loosely defined on the “ecological network map.”
An interesting and do-able application toward greening cities is the planting of trees in parking lots. Parking lots are often large spans of cement which contribute to storm water runoff and sewer overflows. They are aesthetically unappealing, often hot, uncomfortable places. Adding regulations that would require a tree for every three parking spaces would contribute greatly to a greener streetscape and could be a springboard toward other green projects.
When attempting to implement green projects in many small rural towns and cities, the biggest challenge is counteracting the mantra “but we can’t afford it.” Questions such as “how will we pay for the maintenance?”, “how can we afford a park when we need development that will add to the tax base?” The town where I live has about 1/3 of the property as tax exempt, and yet the city is expected to provide a full array of services such as lights, garbage and snow removal, etc. How can struggling towns and cities afford to pay for and maintain green spaces?

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