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    Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change

    Peter Newman, Tim Beatley, and Heather Boyer

    Half of the inhabitants in the world live in cities. In the following twenty years, the number of urban dwellers will swell to an estimated five billion people. Using buildings that are poorly designed and their ineffective transportation systems, many cities particularly in the United States use up enormous amounts of fossil fuels and emit high levels of greenhouse gases. But our planet is quickly running from the carbon-based fuels that have powered urban growth for centuries and we seem to be not able to check our greenhouse gas emissions. Are the world's cities headed for unavoidable failure?

    The authors of the energetic book do not consider that oblivion is essentially the destiny of urban areas. Rather, they believe that direction is visionary and sensible planning that can help cities meet with the impending disasters, and look to existing initiatives in cities around the world. Rather than responding with fear (as a legion of doomsaying prognosticators have done), they choose expectation. They confront the issues, describing where we stand now in our usage of oil as well as our contribution to climate change. They then present four potential results for cities: collapse, ruralized, divided, and resilient. In response to their scenarios, they say a new sustainable urbanism could replace today's carbon-consuming urbanism. They address in detail how buildings and new transportation systems can be feasibly developed to replace our low efficiency systems that are present.

    That is not a publication filled with blue sky theory (although blue skies are going to be a welcome result of its recommendations). Rather, it's packed with practical ideas, a few of which are working in cities today. It implies these problems are solvable, although it frankly confesses that our cities have issues that may worsen when they are not addressed. And the time to begin solving them is now.



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    Learning on the Job in Fremantle, Western Australia

    The City of Fremantle in Western Australia has had a long-term commitment to sustainability and resilience through its planning for heritage, walkability, transportation system (the Fremantle community drove the procedure that began the politics of Perth's famed railroad revival) and redevelopment of its own mixed use centre. It's staff committed to sustainability that's among the key recommendations from a review of local government in the US which found that many local governments never got past the rhetoric because they didn't possess a recognizable program or project officers.

    On all development the City started a sustainability appraisal procedure in 2005 and began trialling an innovative family sustainability program. Both are instances of learning at work as they've led in all sorts of directions. The sustainability assessment procedure has meant that frequently developments have become highly contested as often the sustainability outcomes come in conflict with rigidly applied town planning regulations (see item ten below). The household sustainability plan was called Living Smart and was trialled through the local area center the Assembly Spot (elaborated in Beatley 2008). Living Smart was developed with trains households and Murdoch University in discussing problems related to healthy urban food, building and planting native gardens as well as how to reduce energy, water, waste and transport. Dwelling Smart became quite popular in widening its program, so the City sought help. It to the TravelSmart program discussed in chapter 5 of Resilient Cities., the State Government has taken on the program and is trialling it in 30,000 homes across the entire urban region by linking

    Its community has developed a variety of initiations as the Fremantle community has acquired consciousness of sustainability. Certainly one of these in 2007 was the dedication by a group of a community bank, citizens, local government councilors and parents, to create South Fremantle High School as a carbon neutral model. The school instantly helped by providing a half time staff position (fundamental to any new movement proceeding) and instantaneously grants were obtained along with the plan started. Individual family actions are thereby resulting in community gains. Similar plans creating email links and are developing on bioregional planting with rural schools to handle the offsets from your schools fuel use, educational programs and competitions within the institution. Few of those matters were seen at the start but a willingness to master on the job and also the first steps was all that was needed.
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    "Resilience in our personal lives in about lasting, about making it through crises, about inner strength and strong physical constitution. Resilience is destroyed by fear, which causes us to panic, reduces our inner resolve, and eventually debilitates our bodies. Resilience is built on hope, which gives us confidence and strength. Hope is not blind to the possibility of everything getting worse, but it is a choice we make when faced with challenges. Hope brings health to our souls and bodies. 

    Resilience can be applied to cities. They too need to last, to respond to crises and adapt in a way that may cause them to change and grow differently; cities require an inner strength, a resolve, as well as a strong physical infrastructure and built environment." 
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