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The Environment and the Power of Cities

In prior posts on this blog I’ve referred to some of the world’s experts on new  urbanism–experts who have each asserted that there are vital links between a city’s success or failure and the well-being of local and regional economies.

In this tough global economy, if we’re to create new jobs, protect our natural resources and provide thriving communities for our children and our small businesses, we need to invest in our cities.

The new urbanism mantra is thankfully becoming part of our main stream conversation.  The media, citizens groups, corporate types and politicians are all acknowledging the impact and benefit of curbing urban sprawl (with higher density housing). More regions are willingly directing support for infrastructure development in support of  healthier, attractive new urban communities and city centers where people can work, create and live.

When our cities our strengthened so our are futures – whether we reside in the city, suburbs or our rural communities.

The former popular and controversial mayor of London (U.K.), Ken Livingstone, said this recently to the Toronto Star (January 25, 2009):

The biggest 40 cities in the world have huge purchasing power and huge information exchange; together we can do more to stop climate change than all the major governments in the world.  Now’s an ideal time to build new green industries around alternative energy sources.

Half the world’s population lives in cities.  Cities produce 75 percent of carbon emissions.  The upside to that is that it’s easier to make changes in cities.  Twenty to 30 percent of emissions in cities come from cars and buses.

So if you are able to work from home in your own business or through a telecommuting arrangement with your employer – good for you as you’re contributing to the health of our communities.

If you chose to move your family to one of the hundreds of green-friendly new urbanism communities that have been newly built or redeveloped across the U.S., Canada and elsewhere over the last two decades – good for you as you’re not only helping to contribute to a healthier environment but you’re helping to influence a generation through your lifestyle and involvement in the community.

If you stepped outside of your rural area or remote suburb to visit a museum, or grab a bite to eat in an establishment in your nearby urban city – good for you as you’re helping to support one of the prime engines of our economy.

Your city is just that – it is yours, whether you live in it or 100 miles away.  When our cities thrive we all do.

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