WEEKEND READING: May 19-25, 2007 (The Conscious Urbanism Edition)

It's been a hectic week for this blogger, hence the low post count. News in the Conscious Urbanism realm, however, has been pretty solidly frequent. So this weekend, take a gander at different projects going on around the world that are creating a more socially aware urban citizenship.

I've said before that I believe the places where you can find the most severe examples of a problem are the places with the highest potential for finding a solution. In that spirit, we'll start this post off with a story from Detroit, one of the hardest-hit cities in America's Rustbelt region. Apparently, residents on the troubled city's southwest side are taking matters into their own hands and redeveloping their neighborhood. "In southwest Detroit we don't wait for help from anyone," one resident says. "If we want something changed, we do it ourselves. It says a lot about who we are."

For our next item we travel...well, not that far, really. Just to Chicago, where Art Institute students have been surveying several neighborhoods a year to create intensely comprehensive maps of local pollution sources and green resources. These maps are great resources for residents looking to live sustainably or activists hoping to create change at the local level. (Today's photo is of the Uptown map.)

Up north a ways, in Toronto, Mayor David Miller's administration is taking advantage of new large-scale carbon footprint-measuring technology to calculate the footprint of the 50,000 city employees. The project, dubbed Zerofootprint Toronto is described on its website as "the first ever community-wide initiative aimed at engaging all citizens to fight climate change on a massive scale."

We hop the pond and head south a ways to Cape Town, where the city government has just announced that they will be providing basic services (water, sanitation, lighting) to the thousands of residents living in the South African metropolis' 222 informal settlements as part of an effort to crack down on "land invasions."

Back on the other side of the Southern Hemisphere, the NY Times Magazine this week has a fantastic article about the Brazilian city of Curitiba's evolution into one of the ecological and progressive planning capitals of the world. Curitiba, probably most famous for its groundbreaking Bus Rapid Transit system, has been ahead of the curve for a long time...I was shocked to see how early they put some policies into place.

Finally, PerfectCity has new poll up asking readers to help define what makes up "Social Structure," which came out as the top factor in their earlier poll about what is most important for creating livable cities. Place 'yer bets.

Enjoy the weekend. See you bright and early on Monday. Well, probably more like late Monday night.

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