The city, the future and you – urban farming

This is Part 3 of Chapter 4 of our book on the future of cities, being written wit Dennis Walsh. Our plan is to publish a new book blog nearly every day for the next couple of months. We will publish them both here onfuturist.com and on dothefuture.com. Later we will compile the blogs into an e-book.

We are debating the eventual title. We started with two choices: “Downtown” and “Shine…The Rebirth of American Cities.” Which do you like? We hope you will find the subject of interest and follow this book in serial form. A reader has suggested, “City Transformation?” So far, “Downtown” with a subtitle is leading. What do you think?

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CHAPTER FOUR - Part 3
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

A society, economy or country is neither great nor successful simply because it amasses the most wealth. It’s not always about money. Health is wealth as well.

Cultural endowments like architecture, streetscapes, and historic sites are considered important economic resources in cities around the world. The World Bank finances heritage conservation. Projects are designed to increase city livability by preserving streets and neighborhoods built at a human scale. By preserving their heritage, cities create a unique sense of place, and that ironically attracts investors.

Child obesity has grown to epidemic proportions in this country. Children need access to safe outdoor places, especially children who live in low income neighborhoods. A few years ago, first lady Michelle Obama introduced the Let’s Move Outside! initiative to solve childhood obesity within a generation by encouraging families to get active in nature.

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids recently released the “America’s Great Outdoors” report with input from more than 100,000 Americans. The report recommends increased Department of the Interior investments in their “Youth in the Great Outdoors” initiative including support for their “Trail to Every Classroom” professional development program for teachers. Partnering with communities, the Alliance works to improve urban parks and to provide outdoor opportunities where most Americans live. The key benefits - 6.5 million jobs created every year from outdoor activities together with the obvious health benefits of spending time outdoors.

Isn’t it true? Everything old is new again. Across the nation, urban gardens and farms are sprouting on empty lots, parkland and in schoolyards. It isn’t the first time U.S. cities have ventured into the agricultural landscape. It’s happened before during major economic downturns, and the 20th century’s world wars. 20 million World War II victory gardens produced nearly half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables. When the war ended, victory gardens disappeared.

It’s well worth the effort. Cities are embracing agriculture not only to combat hunger and air pollution but also to make themselves healthier and more sustainable. Regardless, most city zoning doesn’t recognize agriculture. Urban growers and agricultural businesses are waiting for the law to catch up while cities scramble to update ordinances to regulate and even facilitate urban agriculture. Zoning rules are tricky. Urban farms can’t use chemical fertilizers and pesticides like industrial farms, so organic farming is common.

In a 2010 study, “Growing Food in the City: The Production Potential of Detroit’s Vacant Land”, researchers at Michigan State University in East Lansing concludes that urban agriculture could supply Detroit with more than three quarters of the vegetables and almost half of the fruits to meet the cities needs.

There are more than 400 community gardens and farms operating throughout the city. Most exist outside of the law because Detroit zoning doesn’t recognize agriculture as a permitted use. That is an unintended consequence of state laws designed to protect rural farms from urban sprawl.
In the mid-range future we expect to see development of high-rise urban agriculture, multi-story buildings that combine living and working spaces with entire walls and terraces dedicated to commercial scale agriculture. Such concepts have become popular in architecture design contests, and before long the first real development is bound to be attempted.

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[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]

The city, the future and you – 2030 battleground for sustainability

This is Part 1 of Chapter 5 of our book on the future of cities, being written wit Dennis Walsh. Our plan is to publish a new book blog nearly every day for the next couple of months. We will publish them both here onfuturist.com and on dothefuture.com. Later we will compile the blogs into an e-book.

We are debating the eventual title. We started with two choices: “Downtown” and “Shine…The Rebirth of American Cities.” Which do you like? We hope you will find the subject of interest and follow this book in serial form. A reader has suggested, “City Transformation?” So far, “Downtown” with a subtitle is leading. What do you think?

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CHAPTER FiVE - Part 1
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

BLOG ONE CHAPTER FIVE

Setbacks and hard times are not permanent. Life goes on. There are as many possible “futures” as there are a range of possibilities and potential discontinuities. The dark clouds will give way to sunshine. The choice is up to you. In case you’ve been wondering, the future starts here. Let’s look at what’s coming next.

Expect unprecedented economic growth to put pressure on resources. Emerging demand will outstrip supply and at the same time climate change will have a greater impact on national and global security. Deforestation, agriculture, urban development and manufacturing have always and will continue to shape the world. If we continue our present journey - if we fail to mitigate the effects of climate change - we will expose ourselves to instability and conflict.

Climate Change is the major environmental force. The emergency management community in the United States expects the most visible impacts to occur from natural disasters. Events like Hurricane Katrina can have national security implications domestically and abroad. And still, we continue to invest trillions of dollars in global urban development designing and building in areas of chronic systemic risk.

Cities will have to compete as never before. Greatness will take money and talent. Talent will attract investment that will create jobs. Companies will locate where the talent is. People and jobs will create the wealth cities need to become great. And the circle will be complete. Right enough. But the human brain is hardwired for speed. We get a kick from the danger, the buzz that comes from going fast. Like most of us, transnational corporations operate on an ethic of unbridled economic self-interest, maximizing profits with little regard for ecological costs. Booming, hard-driving competitiveness
raises value issues. Our system of growth, and the system of nature have collided. What’s clear is that our obsessions are costing us the Earth.

Urban development started around 3,000 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia. Ancient cities were both ‘organic’ and ‘planned’. They weren’t just places where people lived together. They were hierarchies of power and socialization; walled citadels that grew up around marketplaces. Early cities were all about wealth and conquest. In time, urban economies wove themselves into national and international economies. People became units of production and consumption and grew increasingly disconnected from nature, until now.

By 2030, cities will be a battleground for sustainability. America’s response to the challenge of global climate change will define our ability to compete globally. Without cities, a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy as a way and as a means for implementing sustainable development, will always remain an aspiration rather than a reality. Solo survivalism will not work. It will take a village, and we each have a lot of learning to do. Transition times will mean stretching and growing in ways we have never had to before. Even now, people are creating a safety net of resilience that will enable our local communities to survive in peace and security.

In the near future, local initiatives will enable local communities to decouple, even to disconnect if necessary. They will settle local affairs in order to go it independently in the event of shocks to the larger system. They will address potential systemic collapses in the industrial supply system, everything from medicine to food to cars. Think about it. The production of products and services that make our economy run is constructed by a global network of suppliers all over the world – even in unstable regions. An accident or political problem in any number of countries could be disastrous. That’s the risky side of globalization. When one link in that chain is broken, there is no fallback. If and when push comes to shove and communities lose the ability to trade with each other, there will need to be a framework in place to survive. Here is the trick question – how can local communities become both locally more self sufficient, and fully plugged into the beat of the global economy, simultaneously?

Future national security will be a complicated challenge. Great cities will be smart and innovative, committed to proven solutions. Industry clusters will give cities a competitive advantage when it comes to economic development and business attraction. But for clusters to sustain a long-term advantage, research will be necessary. The re-birth and revitalization of American cities will take universities and the young minds they produce.
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[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]

By Glen HiemstraOn September 5, 20120 comments The city, the future, and you – shrinking cities

This is Part 1 of Chapter 3 of our book on the future of cities, being written wit Dennis Walsh. Our plan is to publish a new book blog nearly every day for the next couple of months. We will publish them both here on futurist.com and on dothefuture.com. Later we will compile the blogs into an e-book.

We are debating the eventual title. We started with two choices: “Downtown” and “Shine…The Rebirth of American Cities.” Which do you like? We hope you will find the subject of interest and follow this book in serial form. A reader has suggested, “City Transformation?” So far, “Downtown” with a subtitle is leading. What do you think?

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CHAPTER THREE - Part 1
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

Hard times are not for all time. We missed the signs and got caught in a bad place. But life is too short to waste in the wrong place. The question is, What are going to do about it?”

Cities are at a crossroads. You know that. We all know that. The question is, do we want to change course?

Yours may be the first generation in decades to face worse economic prospects than your parents and even grandparents. You deserve better. And you know what, we believe that you will make things better by laying the foundation of a new American prosperity and by driving a vibrant green energy economy. You and others like you will reinvent and rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. You will do that by galvanizing the immense potential of the private sector through innovation and creativity. That’s what it is going to take. The need for local innovation is greater than ever before.

The problem is many American cities are in trouble, their economies failing. There are social issues that have not been dealt with. At the same time there are cities that are rebounding, improving. A new attitude, a new awareness is growing, and all over the country.

Skeptical? Consider this: the decline of weakly managed large cities is neither inevitable nor irreversible. But for our cities and towns to function successfully, we must make them great. We must make them sustainable. Sustainability cannot happen at the global scale - that is far too vast to be knowable or controllable. It will take cities capable of addressing the social, economic and political imbalances in the world. At this scale such problems can be resolved. It is time for optimism. We are, after all, more optimistic than realistic by nature. Without optimism, our ancestors wouldn’t have accomplished much.

We are entering a new era, the era of cities. It is difficult to imagine anything more intriguing. Cities are disorganized, yet promising; unruly, yet filled with creative potential. Cities are inspirational, magical places. Centers of artistic and intellectual creativity, seats of political power, focal points of invention and discovery, cities are the engines of economic development. Across the globe, metros with populations over one million account for more than half of the world’s economic output and nine of every ten innovations, while housing roughly one out of every five people.

Did we say cities are shrinking? Every sixth city in the world is contracting. Yet other cities grow. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, there is no limit to how big or fast a city can grow and growth can’t continue without sparking an environmental crisis. Growing cities have to face the fact that cities consume two-thirds of our total energy and produce over 70% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Some people say that urban life is out of balance. Uncontrolled urban development can’t continue.

Thankfully, there is a deeper side to American culture. Under layers of advertising and hyper-consumerism, there’s a move to simplify life, to free up space, budget and time. Some of us are looking for a new less stressful way of life. Some have decided that owning less “big stuff” like houses and cars makes sense. There are signs that older American cities have been slowing down. And they’re reinventing themselves.

The idea goes against the stream but it appears that if cities can grow in a smart way, they can shrink smartly. A case in point: If you want to see what the future of America might look like, drive through Detroit. Confused?

It seems governments are genetically programmed to grow when they can, and to ossify when they cannot. Detroit is an extreme example, but America is full of school districts, townships, counties and cities that made sense once but no more. You might say Detroit, like many other cities, missed the signs and got caught in a bad place. But as we said life is too short to waste in the wrong place. And so, cities are at a crossroads with little choice but to change course.

Like it or not some cities are growing too fast and some are slowing down. Many are shrinking. Blame it on lack of planning if you like. That’s where problems begin. But in the end, slower population growth creates problems of its own.
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[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]

The city, the future, and you – rocking the city

This is Part 3 of Chapter 2 of our book on the future of cities, being written wit Dennis Walsh. Our plan is to publish a new book blog nearly every day for the next couple of months. We will publish them both here onfuturist.com and on dothefuture.com. Later we will compile the blogs into an e-book.

We are debating the eventual title. We started with two choices: “Downtown” and “Shine…The Rebirth of American Cities.” Which do you like? We hope you will find the subject of interest and follow this book in serial form. A reader has suggested, “City Transformation?” So far, “Downtown” with a subtitle is leading. What do you think?

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CHAPTER TWO - Part 3
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

It was the decade of rock n’ roll. Elvis Presley sang “Heartbreak Hotel” popularizing black music and shocking America. The Ed Sullivan Show brought him millions of fans. Superstar rocker, he was here to stay. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino followed him. accused of promoting teenage sexual liberation and rebellion. Rebel Without a Cause showed teenagers fighting with switchblades and driving fast
cars off cliffs.

By the end of the 1950’s, television was everywhere. Television was mesmerizing. Watching it was a favorite pastime. Mass culture delivered mass audiences exactly what they wanted; a “vanilla wasteland” of endless soaps, sitcoms, and Westerns. Advertising agencies used psychologists to influence peoples’ subconscious preference for one product over another. People bought in and paid out. But buying cost money, so along came the credit card. “Buying now, and paying later” made it all too easy.

Did that have a negative effect on America? Did it destroy sense of community? Ironically, the “boob tube” brought the country together watching political conventions and sports teams from home while commercials sold them products that kept the economy moving.

This is where it all gets a little strange, even creepy like deja vu. Students from mostly affluent families flocked to universities in record numbers, and began to see society differently. They saw problems developing. They were questioning rampant materialism. Sound familiar? That generation wanted personal revelation and social revolution; valued intuition as well as reason; and preferred Eastern mysticism to Western religion. In the midst of all of this, a radical, new student organization was born: The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Their manifesto, The Port Huron Statement, presented a vision for post Vietnam War America and called for a student movement based on “participatory democracy”, a phenomenon that is still practiced on American campuses to this day. SDS demonstrations against the war drew thousands whose parents - raised during the Great Depression – had sought security and stability through material “stuff” and found it in the suburbs. Universities were in a position of social influence; a harbinger of reform in an apathetic, materialistic society.

The Berkeley Free Speech Movement began in 1964 when Berkeley University students returned to school after a summer of civil rights protests. Students demanded the same structure for their universities as they had for the nation: participatory democracy. The 1960s that followed saw social turmoil creeping in, inspired by the Vietnam War, racial injustice, fear of nuclear annihilation, and materialism. In search of a better world, music, politics, and alternative lifestyles created a counterculture.

So hippies came into play, mostly middle-class white students, wearing jeans, tie-dyed shirts, sandals, beards and long hair. The sex and drug culture was born. Rock music embraced sexual promiscuity and recreational drugs. Bands like The Jefferson Airplane and the Beatles sang songs like “White Rabbit” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” In Detroit, Motown soul music combined love songs with music that promoted civil rights and the fight for equality. Motown was the sound of teenage America. The Supremes; the Temptations and Four Tops; and Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, and Little Stevie Wonder made music of hope.

A black American minister, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood up for what he knew was right. The country moved toward a more open inclusive society that celebrated diversity instead of conformity. Sit-ins were staged at schools and lunch counters. Any public place would do, pretty much. Publicity and popular opinion did the rest. It was perhaps the first time in American history that a generation of youth made an impact on politics and society. Great story but it didn’t end there. Civil rights might been driven by a sense of peaceful revolution in the 1960’s, but in time, that unrest exploded into violence.

The Watts Riots of 1965 and then the 1968 Detroit riots that followed the assassination of Dr. King, focused attention on the growing problems of poverty and inequality in cities. Against this cultural backdrop, cities were indeed beginning to fail. City centers emptied of residents, home only to office blocks and gradually failing storefronts. Centers of manufacturing continued to flourish into the early 1970’s, but by then the signs of industrial down sizing had begun to occur. Suburbs grew, freeways expanded, bus and rail lines died, the great hollowing out of cities was reaching completion. Some hippies dropped out and left cities for the countryside, experimenting with a communal lifestyle. Away from urban problems, they built lives around shared political goals and organic farming.

As the counterculture wave continued toward the close of the decade, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair became an affair to remember for tens of thousands of middle-class young. Four days of “peace, love and groovy,” of great music, liberation, and expanding consciousness, along with a dose of sex, drugs and indulgence.

Young people didn’t end racism but they did end legal segregation. They ended the notion that you could send half-a-million soldiers around the world to fight a war that people didn’t support. They ended the idea that women are second-class citizens. They made the environment an issue that could not be avoided. For the first time, young people felt empowered by their numbers, proving once and for all that people who care enough to do right can change history.
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[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]

The city, the future, and you – futurama

This year Canadian futurist and writer Dennis Walsh and I began a conversation about a book on the future of cities. As the conversation continued the concept moved toward a discussion of cities but more so of the personal choices we face if we are to make cities and by extension the planet a sustainable place to live. These choices loom large for young people as they shape their own lives, and, we hope, save the future. Now we are writing, and have decided to release the first draft of the book as a blog serial. This is part 1 of Chapter 2. Our plan is to publish a new book blog nearly every day for the next couple of months. We will publish them both here on futurist.com and on dothefuture.com. Later we will compile the blogs into an e-book.

We are debating the eventual title. We started with two choices: “Downtown” and “Shine…The Rebirth of American Cities.” Which do you like? We hope you will find the subject of interest and follow this book in serial form. A reader has suggested, “City Transformation.” So far, “Downtown” with a subtitle is leading. What do you think?

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CHAPTER TWO - Part 1
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

In the America of our memories we think of ourselves as a rural people, a pioneer people, a country of courageous loners heading off into the wilderness to carve out a new place. We dream this dream of the past although even the early immigrant settlers gathered in villages and towns as much as they lived on lonely homesteads.

The anti-urban bias in our history is very old. Thomas Jefferson derided cities as “sores.” Tracing mistrust of cities all the way back to George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, the historian Thomas Bender has written: “Are cities American? Yes and no. Cities and their populations have never been completely excluded from the promise of American life, but neither have they yet been wholly accepted.”

Perhaps they have never been wholly accepted, but cities have always been growing larger. By 1900, while 60% of Americans lived in rural areas, New York housed over 1.4 million people, Chicago 1.7 million, Philadelphia 1.3 million. As the 20th Century dawned the first urban explosion was just beginning. The final industrial revolution was drawing people like a magnet from the country to the city. By 1920 New York had ballooned to 5.6 million, Chicago to 2.7 million, Philadelphia to 1.8 million. There were over 20 cites in the U.S with populations over 300,000 by the end of that second decade of the 20th Century.

The future – if we are to have one worth living – belongs to you, the younger generation. It is time to get ready; time to make critical choices like, “how are you going to spend the rest of your life”, “where will you live”, “what work will you chose”.

It has been said that you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. The past is not a map to where you are going, it’s a record of where you have been. A map of the past can serve you by reminding you of lessons learned so you can avoid them in the future. Where better to look than to the auto industry?

With the Roaring ‘20’s, the automobile era was underway, changing the nature of cities dramatically. By 1940 Detroit and Los Angeles, each a creature of the auto age and each with more than 1.5 million residents, had replaced Cleveland and St. Louis among the five largest of U.S. cities and 56% of Americans had settled in urban areas. The nation had become a collection of cities.

It is this later history of American cities and culture that we want to explore next, the period of 1940 up to more recent days. It was the cultural dynamics of these years, more than any other period that shaped the cities that you have inherited.

The ultimate suburban dream began, arguably, at the New York World’s Fair of 1939 and ’40. “Highways and Horizons,” better known as “Futurama,” was overwhelmingly the fair’s most popular exhibit; perhaps 10 percent of the American population saw it. At the heart of the exhibit was a scale model, covering an area about the size of a football field, that showed what American cities and towns might look like in 1960.

Visitors watched matchbox-sized cars zip down wide highways. Gone were the crowded tenements of the time; 1960s Americans would live in stand-alone houses with spacious yards and attached garages. By todays standards, the exhibit would not impress us, but at the time, it inspired wonder. E. B. White wrote in Harper’s, “A ride on the Futurama … induces approximately the same emotional response as a trip through the Cathedral of St. John the Divine … I didn’t want to wake up.”

Just six years later World War II came to an end and millions of the displaced were more or less resettled. European and Asian cities began to be rebuilt from ashes and piles of rubble. Ironically, the most destructive war in history brought about the emergence of the strongest and biggest economy in the world. Some feared that the end of the War would lead the United States back to depression. Today, others argue that the country’s participation in World War II finally saved it from the Great Depression. It makes better sense that way. After all, the entire economy was propelled by war. By 1950, the United States economy was growing rapidly.

While most major economies were slow to recover, war placed the United States at an advantage over both its allies and its enemies. World War II accelerated the pace of change, in weaponry, transportation, communications, electronics, medicine, and technology. The War provided opportunities that would later be manifested. America’s products went overseas. That in-itself was an introduction to new markets and a taste of what would later become known as globalization.

War recruited millions of Americans to the “front”. Factories were built to produce guns and ammunitions, military transport, tanks, fighter planes and bombers. Investments were made in defense of the country. Fuelled by billions in government spending, industry hired hundreds of thousands of workers in major factories. Jobs gave life to industries. And for the first time, women were given the opportunity to work outside the home to participate in nation building.

Americans hoped for much and achieved much. We put our faith in institutions, social and political. That both strengthened and shook us, often at the same time and sometimes by the same events. The war changed everything. Victory brought confidence, in the government and the economy. And consumer demand spurred growth. The newspaper business, the agriculture industry, transport, automobile, aviation, electronics, housing and even Hollywood prospered. New homes meant furniture and appliances as well as new cars.

An acute post-war housing shortage had developed when millions of veterans came home, got married, and started families. The primary solution to this problem was to make futurama real. When you explore an historic city you can find suburbs that existed even centuries ago – often houses on the hill from which people commuted to the town center by foot, cart or horse. But nothing matched the scale of the new suburbs. Invented by William J. Levitt, who applied Henry Ford’s mass production techniques for cars to building homes, the new Levittowns broke the mold on city building. He divided home construction into 27 separate steps, each one being handled by a separate team specializing in that step. The modern suburb was born.

Post-war prosperity in the economy further encouraged suburban growth. With higher wages and lower interest rates, Americans could afford to live in newer residential developments farther away from urban areas. In 1940, over half of the U.S. population resided in rural or densely populated areas, whereas only 15% lived in suburban areas.

Americans were sold, and quit eagerly bought notions of workers escaping the noise, crime and pollution of city life to the perceived calm of the suburbs. Zoning ordinances separated residential development from commercial and industrial. A type of segregation removed people from where they worked, shopped and recreated, making the automobile indispensable. As Americans were lured to the suburbs, the construction of better highways made the transition possible.

The Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration loan programs in the years following the Second World War provided mortgages for over eleven million new homes. These mortgages, which typically cost less per month than paying rent, were directed at new single-family suburban construction. Intentionally or not, the FHA and VA programs discouraged the renovation of existing housing stock, while turning their back on the construction of row houses, mixed-use buildings, and other urban housing types.

With the post-WWII boom in home construction under way, in 1953 President Eisenhower appointed the then-president of General Motors, Charles Wilson, as Secretary of Defense and DuPont’s chief, Secretary of Transportation (DuPont was GM’s biggest investor). These two set out to pave over America for the auto. DuPont got Eisenhower to set up the Highway Trust Fund that funneled gasoline tax money into highway construction. Two thirds of these funds went to build inner-city freeways. Meanwhile, GM, recognizing the limits of bus sales as contrasted with automobiles, changed its tactics, and convinced the House of Representatives to deny all funding for public transportation, hoping to reduce bus service. The money was diverted to freeways. By the 1950’s buses were disappearing and everyone was opting for a car. While post-war Europe and Japan were rebuilding their rail transit, America was destroying hers.
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[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]

The city, the future, you and butterflies

This year Canadian futurist and writer Dennis Walsh and I began a conversation about a book on the future of cities. As the conversation continued the concept moved toward a discussion of cities but more so of the personal choices we face if we are to make cities and by extension the planet a sustainable place to live. These choices loom large for young people as they shape their own lives, and, we hope, save the future. Now we are writing, and have decided to release the first draft of the book as a blog serial. This is part 2 of Chapter 1. Our plan is to publish a new book blog nearly every day for the next couple of months. We will publish them both here on futurist.com and on dothefuture.com. Later we will compile the blogs into an e-book.

We are debating the eventual title. We have two choices: “Downtown” and “Shine…The Rebirth of American Cities.” Which do you like? We hope you will find the subject of interest and follow this book in serial form.

——————————————————————————
CHAPTER ONE - Part 2
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

Cities will shape the future. But with the anticipated growth of cities, they are at a crossroad. Become great, or deteriorate. Cities at a crossroad is an interesting concept. Interesting in that cities have choices to make on the way to a great future. You too have choices to make and where you will live is one of them.

You may have already decided that for now. Then again, you may not have thought that through. The choices you make now will profoundly affect your future. Every choice you make, no matter how small, is a chance for you to shine because you can make a difference.

Have you heard about the “butterfly effect”? Some people believe that a butterfly flapping its wings could cause a tornado somewhere else in the world. It is complicated. Not only is it possible for the weather to be affected, but even animals could feel the effects because of complex predator-prey dynamics that make them prone to a “boom” and “bust” environment. It is like this. Natural biological systems are a tangled mix of “order” and “chaos”. A better way to look at it is to compare the butterfly effect to the “ripple effect” – drop a pebble into a pond and the little circles move outward to affect the rest of the water.

You can make a difference. At every stage the choices you make in life will have a butterfly effect. Every time you make the right choice, you lead by example pointing to a better direction. Doing good things will make more good happen. But it works both ways. Ripples and butterflies are not inherently evil but they can both make nasty things happen. Thoughtless, careless actions can cause a ripple that creates bad experiences for others.

Nearly fifty years ago, people just like you were faced with choices. Society was broken and needed fixing. University students were the wild card that had a butterfly effect on our nation. They began questioning rampant materialism. They wanted personal revelation. University students dropped pebbles in ponds of thought, and started a social revolution. It was by no means all of them, but enough of them to matter. You have the same power that they had then. The numbers are on your side. The future is worth fighting for. If you care enough to “do the right thing” you can literally change history. If not, why should you have any reason to think that the future will be any different than it is right now?

We are at a turning point. The boom times as we knew them are not coming back. A sci-fi future is unlikely unless someone can come up with trillions of new disposable dollars – or unless we get creative and bold, fast. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually imagine roadways in the sky and living in a sustainable natural world? We must make choices. You must make choices to save the planet and thus yourself. It is up to you to think differently. Make decisions differently. Why? Revolution lies ahead, a revolution in thought, a cultural and social revolution

Your high-octane generation may be our best hope for a bright future. But for the first time ever, there is now more student debt than credit card debt in America. The average college student today is $24,000 in debt. You were not made for that. You were designed to win. The cells of your body, your brain, your muscles, the consciousness of your soul, the interactions you have with others – were designed for you to win. You were built to succeed. And you know it. But if you are looking for insight to some tough questions, and new ways of thinking, this book will help you to become the winner you were designed to be.

You will change the world more than the world will change you. By sheer weight of numbers - let alone the laws of economics – your generation will have a big say in how companies, workplaces, organizations work. Big corporations cannot afford to be left behind. They are already on shaky ground. Startups are dominating the workforce for the youth demographic in today’s economy. If large corporations want to remain competitive, they need you and they need new ways of thinking. The best organizations will embrace that.
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[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]

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