Sustainability Regenerates Short Life Communities
Until very recently, it was assumed that urban communities of the industrial age would grow rapidly and as one generation went through its lifetime that they would be abandoned.
Then new better communities would be built on new land. This process started with garden cities and still continues in today’s sprawling suburbs. Since the first boom in the late 50’s hundreds of thousands of people have left the existing neighbourhoods.
New and not so new products are sold on the powers of invention which continuously improves our lives but leaves behind piles of items that are obsolete.
Communities have suffered badly from consumerism but sustainability has shown paths that can be followed.
MAINTAIN EXISTING RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITIES.
REGENERATE COMMERCIAL AREAS WITH NEW MIXED USE.
An increasing part of sustainability is non-use value where resources and assets are set aside completely for the benefit of future generations.
There are two options for this approach.
THE FIRST IS TO STOP USING AN ASSET.
THE OTHER IS TO FIND AN ALTERNATE WAY OF DOING THINGS THAT USE ONLY RENEWABLE RESOURCES.
One of the best known aspects of sustainability is the concept of conservation where the earth’s biosphere and natural resources are reserved forever for future generations and are shared equitably by all.
Retaining urban infrastructure, buildings, utilities, roads and other components of a community including the people are part of this larger picture.
Living things constantly change but in the end are using the same components that have been around for millenniums.
Communities can share both the new and old and have a face of permanence. One of the best features of mature neighbourhoods is that they do not have the car dependent character of new communities with their indirect roads and poor transit service.
Because people are part of the biosphere we are all most comfortable when surrounded with life.
Communities that nurture life and avoid what is toxic remain attractive and as trees and landscaping mature, engagement with nature goes beyond the featureless land of new neighbourhoods.
Socio-ecological systems are where people and the biosphere come together. In many cases human interference has destroyed viable ecosystems and in others environmental changes have destroyed human communities.
History has shown that resilience – the ability of people and their environments to support each other – succeeds.
New ways to fit urban environments into their surroundings is the way of the future.