Newsletter Archives - Ecocity Builders

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I suggested the title of this article as the overall theme for the 11th International Ecocity Conference in Abu Dhabi, which will be convening next October 2015. This will be the first Ecocity Summit to be held in the Arab region. The official theme is still being discussed and debated, with the hosts leaning towards a regional theme with an emphasis on ecocity adaptations for hot climate conditions. They in Abu Dhabi do have real expertise on this subject to be sure, and it is deeply rooted in their history. Examples of city planning and design that meet the challenges of such an extreme environment of sun and sand date back hundreds of years. High-density towns like Shaban in Yemen, with their heavy building materials of sun-dried earthen bricks – nine stories high in Shaban – and their narrow streets create a pedestrian environment pleasant in temperature and conveniently “mixed use” in the way of complete communities with lively economics and culture. We have a lot to learn from such examples in the Arab Islamic world. Another car-free model, also ancient, is the Medina of Fez, Morocco. While larger in population than the world’s other substantially car-free city – Venice, Italy – Medina shares with that Italian city a plan of narrow, shaded and “passively” cooled streets and buildings. In addition, Abu Dhabi is home to one of the most interesting modern ecocity projects I know of: the car-free, once again compact, pedestrian-oriented town of Masdar. Masdar is partially built and has the potential to exert powerful influence around the world in the realm of planning, especially if it pushes boldly in ecocity directions.

by Richard Register [caption id="attachment_1656" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Garden Tour, Genesis"][/caption] What a beautiful day! I’m floating across the vast landscape of Detroit under bright blue skies with big white clouds billowing up, enormous distances between. My rental bike from the Wheelhouse downtown by the river feels like a magic carpet and the air temperature is perfect for a thin shirt, fresh breeze on the skin. One surprise: the waters of the Detroit River are deep and clear blue almost like those of the Bahamas and not at all like the Mississippi and muddy rivers of China, India and Brazil I’ve visited lately.

Our big news item: We just launched our new website! We hope you will take a few minutes to take a look.  http://www.ecocitybuilders.org Our new site makes it easier to learn about our mission and programs. Our sincere thanks to Diana Divecha for sponsoring our website project and to Design Action Collective for creating the design. We like the new clean and light appearance, we hope you do too! Most of all, we'll be able to build up this site to become a real resource for the international ecocity community of students and practitioners. Keep checking back as we continue to upload all kinds of useful information that has been heretofore tucked away in various files, CDs, DVDs and computer drives, just waiting for an opportunity to be properly posted and filed onto our website.

The Award is open for entries, with the deadline for submissions being 5pm CET, 28 October 2010. ISOCARP is actively supporting the Philips Livable Cities Award, a global initiative designed to encourage individuals, businesses, community and non-governmental groups to develop practical, achievable ideas for improving the health and well-being of people living in cities - ideas which can then be translated into reality.

The world is experiencing rapid urbanization and industrialization, this process has not only enhanced the progress of urban civilization, but also extensively and deeply threatened the urban environment, as well as regional and global life supporting system and ecosystem services, it is a paramount mission for modern cities to seek a socio-economically as well as ecologically harmonious urban society, meanwhile, achieve civilized transformation and innovation.

by citisven

Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 02:40:37 PM PDT

Whenever I travel to different countries and cities, one of the things I'm interested in is how locals move around in their daily lives. Call me a transportation glutton, but I'm a sucker for trains, boats, rickshaws, trams, buses, gondolas, back alleys, and sidewalks. Then, of course, there's the most sublime transit invention of them all: the bicycle. It's so simple — even a non-techie like myself understands how it works — and yet so deliciously useful, relieving traffic, getting you anywhere quickly, reducing CO2, keeping you in shape, letting you see a place and interact with its people.     One thing I noticed on my trip to Italy a few months ago was how much bikes were part of everyday life. With David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries as my companion I strolled through the streets of cities and towns, trying to capture the mundane beauty of cycling. Italy-bikes_03 Italy-bikes_28 One of the biggest stumbling blocks in changing the ways we move around, eat, or do business, is the common perception that living a less fossil fueled life means sacrifice and inconvenience, even drudgery. In the case of the bicycle, the danger factor is often added to the list of reasons of why it would be such a bad idea to get out of our cars.

Justice is a concept of great importance to all of us working for a better world. It is fundamental to theories of social order. Studies show that the sense of justice may be instinctual to our nature. Today, calls for justice are getting louder - calls for social justice, climate justice, environmental justice, economic justice, the list goes on. But in a world already sorely out of balance, with globalization transcendent, and with corporations controlling much of the world's resources and distribution systems, in some circumstances it can be difficult to know from whom to demand justice. The gap between the "haves" and "have nots" is getting more disproportional; unraveling the causes of fundamental injustices can lead to truths some of us would rather not face.

by RICHARD REGISTER It's time we put economics into some sort of physical scientific context that makes sense. Economists have drifted off into a disconnected world where, blinded by massive amounts of money and mystery, they see themselves as a kind of high priesthood calling the shots for practically everything, then saying they were blindsided by the debacle in the real estate world and the up-trading in wildly irresponsible and, strictly honest to say, greedy derivatives.