Sustainability in the City: Is it really this, or is it really that?

The American City, is it sustainable in what we want out of an urban complex and what we get? Call it culture shock that what we what as a whole isn’t always what we are given.

There is a fracture between what we ideally want our of our governments and what is possible and the fault can’t be easily blamed solely at the feet of those we elect to govern us because part of our issue is the system with which we have setup to allow for fluidity within government… or the lack there matter.

Change happens with individuals at a rapid pace; at work, in team environments, on assembly lines, on the individual/personal level within our own thoughts, actions, and decisions, they all happen with a quickness. However, larger structures take time. in this case municipal, regional, state and national governments. Whether it be the frequency of change that takes place within a given politician’s term in office, term-limited time at a given position, or the limits of the knowledge of the individual who is in the seat of government, the will of the people for a change in policy or stance takes time to formally go through the channels of government. A process which frustrates a lot of individuals who would prefer a more rapid change.

On a governmental level we are not limited by the creativity or ingenuity of the citizenry to come up with and find out creative solutions to the challenges we face, we are limited by the unified directives of those we elect to govern us.

If they can’t come to a clear or majority outcome or find a feasible way to facilitate an idea, the status quo will continue.

While there are teams of municipal agents available to aid in decision making, it is up to the spirited individual to help quicken the pace of change. In short, It’s up to us to be involved and active in order to help make the pace of political change quicken.

Outside of becoming an elected official, the way to do so is through understanding the appropriate ways of proposing and pushing forward ideas and concepts to govern, and aiding in their understanding of a particular idea… really work the room to understand an idea; what lobbyist do so well.

In terms of Sustainability, local efforts seem to be going in the right direction, but pushes towards better ways and means could be done overall, Cities who are stallworth’s of Sustainable Design within local government (Portland, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Vancouver, to name a few), have all implemented great concepts that help their city curb their overall impact on the globe, Many Municipalities looking to replicate their success, tend to takes their best practices and never push forward on more native solutions. This is where the local citizen is needed more, to help enact change, and do the groundwork needed to help push a local government more towards the path of a better more sustainable city.

Overall, while American Cities are on the track to sustainability, but at a pace which sorely needs to quicken. More could be done to be on par with their counterparts in other countries, most notably northern European Countries, like Denmark and the Netherlands, and more can be done to reflect the great creativity and knowledge we currently have to solve a great majority of issues which often times all to a lack of political will.


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