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Civic Virtue -- Urban Sustainability Tactics

Civic virtues are a new version of stewardship, conservation and frugality and common sense.

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Metropolis Magazine published a provocative article about New York's comprehensive initiatives to not just cope ... but thrive during a period of global warming. In his earth day address, Mayor Bloomberg laid out PlaNYC a series of highly practical steps to improve our city in a period of rapid population growth against a backdrop of global warming. He outlined 127 programs that would work together to support an urban policy that would result in a city not just coping, but improving, through challenging times. The programs are diverse and technical, ranging from tree canopy guidelines to mass transit financing. However, if we step back a moment, we will recognize something else profoundly important in this speech: a new definition of civic virtue for the 21st century.

Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits important for the success of the community. The ideas Mayor Bloomberg laid out are nothing short of a new compact with nature for the urban dweller, an acknowledgment that the success of our city will in large part be determined by our success in managing our environment.

I was reading the book, "Good to Great" this weekend and it emphasizes how great leaders are more concerned about their community's well being and progress than their own pay package. Civic virtue is certainly overdue in our culture, whether business, government, religious, sports or nonprofit culture. It seems to me that Europe is way ahead of us with thinking about community well being. And even parts of Asia are leapfrogging us.

Will the coming leaders of the world leapfrog us because we forgot to think about the group ... in our pursuit for individual success and survival? Are green business and sustainability strategies our pathway to survival and thriving?

I think the green and sustainability movements are a new version of stewardship, conservation and frugality and common sense. All those survival skills that our ancestors developed because they, too faced survival challenges.

Mayor Bloomberg’s speech says it all. To be a better city, we must build green, use mass transit, and restore purity to our water and air, with park access for all. This is a vision of a new type of city for the 21st century: at once more urbane and more natural. It is a marriage of building and landscape that is challenging every notion we have ever had about design.

ORIGINAL STORY: Metropolis Mag

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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