Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Key to Sustainable Cities-Hallsmith

One key concept Hallsmith presents is the belief that people need other people in the form of a society or community, and that in order to meet individual physical and material needs the community's needs must be met. These needs being physical well-being, economic security, governance, and social well-being. All of which must be met also to achieve "whole human lives". This leaves the question of who is to determine what is to be considered a "whole" life. Some individuals would be happy to rid themselves of the ties that seemingly bind us to society. This brings me to question whether, just because the world we live in now ties us together, this is the best way to live. Dependent.

Another interesting point Hallsmith discusses are her 5 key variables for sustainable economic development. 1. trust, cooperation, and leadership in a community leading to collective action towards improved local economy. 2. equitable distribution of economic resources. 3. new products and services created or have value added to them within the community. 4. income in a community spent and invested locally. 5. way in which products and services are manufactured, cultivated, or created has to be sustainable and environmentally sound due to carrying capacity. I question the attainability of some of these pursuits. In particular the 'goodness' of people to be equitable in this country. I feel people think they work for and earn their luxuries, and the fact that some people are born disadvantaged does not mean they should be given a level playing field.

Throughout Hallsmith points out that power should be spread amongst individuals in the community, in this way avoiding the vicious governance cycle of overworked decision-makers making bad choices. She proposed instead that the community form committees to make some of these decisions. I agree that this may lead to better decisions, I do wonder whether this can be done in an efficient matter.

The most imporant concept Hallsmith reiterates is "the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts." She shows this through the various systems of feedback loops. This point also emphasizes the need not only to see problems and find solutions, but analyze and make links between problems in order to realize and solve the true problem. I think this is a good method. I'm only left wondering exactly how far out must we look in order to avoid making our solution the problem.

The reading has relevance to our course in that Hallsmith repeats the need to form relationships with each other in order to make positive change. In this course I feel we will be doing just that, individually, amongst each other in class, and with the community as we work to see change realized through our projects. At the same time we will build trust in the community and gain power in the decision-making process of this town.