city sustainability


these days i go through almost empty streets at night thinking always about the same thing. the streets are busy during the day full of rushing folks and loud cars and your mind is busy trying not to step on other person’s polished shoes or homeless guys’ blankets. 
but at night i see all this space and at night that is the time when i am really happy to live in london. because only then you realise that, man, this place is huuuuge! and then it comes every time, like a snowball - - - i start thinking this and i want you to really think about it:
how can people go about the world every day not neither noticing nor appreciating how big and old this planet ball is!!! how many people, animals and creatures are glued to its surface! how new but ancient odd plants and trees and what not  come from it! and everything keeps changing but we cannot really see it or feel it. only when we learn about it in school from really old books written by people that are long dead! and then it just seems too surreal like it’s just a story someone had made up.
and if you ever thought about it then i want you to try harder! how can we wrap our heads around all this greatness and yet let the shit happen to this big ball of fun and beautiful things. 
one day when i die (if i die) it will be a pleasure to soak in the planet’s fresh soil or swim in its clean oceans for eternity. and that would be a dream come true, in a really odd but sensational way.



This period is named after the city of Ubaid (modern Tell al-Ubaid). The dating of this period is troublesome as while some areas are definitely Ubaid, others are just influenced by its material culture; a distinctive style of pottery (black-painted buff pottery). Late into the Ubaid period settlements could hold as many as two-thousand people, while the city of Eridu could sustain as much as five-thousand. The main focus of Eridu, as with most other Mesopotamian settlements, was the importance given to temples. Said temples were initially administrative centers which would later also be used for storing grain and making burnt offerings.

^ The Statue of Enki Sails from Eridu by Balage Balogh.

Here religion and temples played important roles in the evolution of settlements as they united people under a set of core beliefs. With the construction of temples people were drawn to these settlements and this would in turn lead to population growth, more available manpower and greater resource production. Villages grew into towns and cities, cities into city-states while classes and professions like artisans and craftsmen began to spring up. 

Eventually the city of Uruk grew to overshadow Eridu and interestingly this is mentioned in their mythology. It is noted that Enki (god of wisdom, patron of Eridu) passed me (Akkadian ‘parshu’ - gifts, curses, tools, instruments, technologies, ideas and concepts) to Inanna the goddess of love and war, patroness of Uruk. Geology however tells another tale, an intense dry period known as the 5.9 kiloyear event is believed to have ended the Ubaid period while also triggering migrations into river valleys like those of Mesopotamia and the Nile River in Egypt. 

^ Eridu as envisioned by Balage Balogh. 

The earliest Sumerian houses were built of reeds while the later ones were made of sunbaked bricks using bitumen (glue and tar substance) to hold the bricks in place. The city streets were narrow and winding; the garbage would be left in-front of the house, burned and covered in dirt. This would elevate the floor level which would require them to raise the height of the entrance of their houses. 

^ A Sumerian reed house under construction by Richard Hook.

With an average floor space of about 700 square meters, some houses would be separated from each other while others shared walls. The houses had air-vents and central courtyards which would reach from the first floor to the roof, both of these were intended to keep the inside of the house cool. Most slept on their roofs during the cooler nights when the weather allowed. Near the temple is where most houses were clustered. 

^ Typical city.

If there are any errors please privately inbox me so I can update it. As always, if you’d like to read or learn about any specific historical subjects just let me know what they are and I will take note of them.

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Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

John F. Kennedy

(Photo: Steven Godfrey)

Traditional cities were built on a human scale, ideally proportioned for face to face interaction and the manual labor involved in crafting and transporting goods and ideas. Easily defendable they fostered an organic sense of community on a scale that was intuitive to anyone living in the city or visiting it. Sustainable, ecological, humane, they enabled a civilization that gave us all that we hold dear today.

Modern cities are most often grids for the convenience of owners of utilities, rent seeking corporations and government agencies. Their only reason for being is to provide a convenient place for you to sleep while you earn the money you need to partake in the consumer culture that is allowed to you. Absolutely unsustainable the city relies on strip mining and environmental destruction of both nature and human culture in far off countries while simultaneously making you utterly dependent on it.

It annoys me greatly when people say that this generation relies too much on technology. Similarly, it’s also a concept that I don’t identify with when some environmentalists’ idea of sustainability means “living off the land” and moving off into the middle of nowhere to create a small community with sustainable practices. While this is the case for many groups of people who have been living this way forever and this is truly their way of life, it is not okay for white hippies to come in and claim it as their “solarpunk” movement and that it is superior to other ways in which sustainability might look like.

Environmentalism, sometimes, means development.

As a person who’s always lived in the city, I stand my ground that technology contributes a great deal to how a city can become more sustainable and resilient by functioning as a grid. It makes systems more effective. Carbon emission can be reduced, air quality can be improved, and space can be used effectively when sustainable policy, design, and engineering are used collectively to build urban spaces. Not only does it benefit the environment by having buildings that have net zero emissions, monitored indoor air quality, or by having green infrastructure to reduce water pollution, reducing sprawls makes sense economically. Building up, not out, support more households. Moreover, planning a connected and compact city means better access. It means more people not having to own cars to get to their work places or grocery stores because public transportation is effective in getting people where they need to go. More buses and bike lanes, less cars, less parking spaces, less impermeable surfaces, less combined sewage overflow. Food systems can also be improved. Urban farms utilize space effectively, and they reduce the cost as well as environmental impacts of transportation of produce. Development doesn’t have to come at the expense of the earth or people. Instead, we can design a city around equity, the environment, and a sustainable economy.

So, yes, live off the land if you’d like, but ultimately, as space becomes more scarce and more people start to move into cities, that is where a major impact on the global environment can be mitigated - if technology, smart design, and sustainable grid-like infrastructure were incorporated into urban settings.

As NYC Junior Ambassadors, hundreds of students from across the five boroughs have the opportunity to act as representatives of their city, pledging to create a better city and a more sustainable planet. As part of the program students receive curated tours of the UN Headquarters, giving them a behind-the-scenes look at the UN and access to a growing alumni network of young, future leaders. They also receive classroom visits from an Ambassador to the UN or senior diplomat. Applications for Year 2 of the program are open through October 5! Educators from across the five boroughs and from any subject area can apply!