Does the term “green city” make any sense? There is a growing movement across the U.S. and around the world for cities to become more environmentally conscious. Some neighborhoods are committed to becoming an oasis of sustainable living, powered by the sun and surrounded by gardens.
There are nature-friendly alternatives for your community no matter how urbanized it may be. Even poor residents of inner city neighborhoods are learning to grow organic vegetables and healing herbs, to build beautiful homes from recycled materials and adapt green technology for local use.
Especially among the large population in metropolitan areas, “there have to be initiatives to empower people to change their lifestyles in ways that will enable them to sustain their families,” says Dorah Lebelo, director of the Greenhouse Project in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her organization is just one of hundreds of nonprofits developing creative, “plant-friendly” approaches to community development “instead of inventing technologies that cost a lot of money or involve importing products from all over the world.”
Is it working? “This used to be a rough neighborhood,” Lebelo says. “It’s much safer now. People are also becoming more conscious about growing their own food. Women’s groups are emerging and creating coops for art and organic gardening to earn income.” The look of the community has improved too.
What would it take to make your neighborhood a “green” community? The first step is to talk to local residents and get their ideas. Find partnerships with other organizations and businesses. Start with a small, concrete experiment and let the concept snowball.
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Information and resources are available at http://www.sustainable‑city.org and http://www.planetdrum.org/green_city_calendar1.htm. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a major “think tank” on this subject. Its web site is at www.ilsr.org.