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Lauren Mandel:With so much of our population occupying urban spaces, re-envisioning the use of developed areas should be emphasized. The services that Sam cited, from waste filtra- tion to crop propagation, can work in close proximity to dense- ly populated areas if we can incentivize innovative planning and design.

Sam Butcher: As our industrial economy grew, we constructed buildings and infrastructure that are ill-suited to a post-indus- trial economy. The legacy of pollution from past industrial activ- ities hinders redevelopment of, say, a former factory district into a viable and vibrant residential, commercial, or education cen- ter. So we often abandon this developed but now underused land, and move out to build anew. My professional expertise is in the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, an activity that many cities and states encourage in their policies and budgeting.

Ingeborg Clark: Unlike the “urban renewal” disasters of the past (like the destruction of Boston’s pedestrian-friendly West End that created a vacant, wind-swept, fully paved city-hall plaza), current projects are usually based on redeveloping brownfields and old buildings to complement their neighbor- hoods, adding value to mixed land uses, access to public trans- portation, storm-water management, trees and park areas, and softer, cooler rooftops and parking lots.

Tavis Eddy: The hardscapes of urban areas essentially rinse the city and direct an im- mense number of contaminants, from garbage to traces of car tires, into the surface water. Our cities need more greenway buffers for filtration and containment.

Lauren Mandel: Tavis is right on the money! Green, planted roofs are an excellent tool, filter- ing pollutants, regulating temperature, and pro- viding urban habitat for animals and humans alike. In Berlin, where green roofs are promoted on a citywide scale, the benefits are especially significant. Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia studied ways to reduce sewer overflows and have acknowledged that it’s less expensive to integrate green roofs, rain gardens, and perme- able paving into their infrastructure than to build higher-capacity sewer systems.

Ingeborg Clark: Sprawl cannot continue un- abated, and populations will need to rely on sustainable cities. Those that ensure adequate light, air, vegetation, and a welcoming scale with walkable access to services will thrive.

Sam Butcher: My concern is that so many cities are car-based. Some have subways that

move independently of the cars, but many use buses that have to share the roads. And as a bicyclist, I’m very aware that I’m intruding—the roads are not really shared, and I travel at my own risk on the cars’ thoroughfares. I’d like to see cars become much less necessary as a result of better bus lanes, bike lanes, and sidewalks and workplaces that are closer to residential areas.

What to do? Andrea Petzel: Urban transportation is a huge issue—how to

get people out of their cars—but so is creating an environment that people, particularly families, want to live in. If I could make one policy change, I’d abolish single-family zoning and support multifamily apartments and townhouses. About 65 percent of Seattle is now zoned single-family. We have legislated growth- management targets to comply with, so in the future we’ll need to accommodate greater density. As for urban ag, Seattle is map- ping where people access food and considering incentives for siting food stores there. And it’s exploring ways to lease city- owned land for agricultural use.

Lauren Mandel: Policies that seem most effective for encour- aging green roofs include increasing the water department’s user fees for impermeable surfaces, offering grants or tax subsi- dies for building green roofs, and requiring them in certain types of new construction.

The hardscapes of urban areas essentially rinse the city and direct an immense number of contaminants, from garbage to traces of car tires, into the surface water. Our cities need more greenway buffers for filtration and containment.

Ingeborg Clark: Mitigating climate change must become a practice area, included in all land-use planning. It’s already very visible in the changing glaciers and coastlines, but its effects are also more subtle, such as changing when wildflowers bloom, which affects the ecosystem’s ability to compete against invasive species, to support insect popula- tions at crucial times for pollinating plants or feed- ing birds, and so on. It’s ultimately a large-scale issue of the carrying capacity of our land.

Tavis Eddy: The systemic relationships between energy demands, resource extraction, and land practices are very complex. Along with extraction come countless dependent industries that also contribute to habitat loss, soil contamination, cli- mate change, and air and water pollution. The de- mands are so high, the pressure for production so great, that only dramatic changes will alleviate these concerns.

Ingeborg Clark: Recently one of my students just threw up his hands and said, “What can we possibly do?” We can get depressed about these problems, but on the other hand they present great opportuni- ties. Lauren and Andrea’s descriptions of protecting ecological value even in densely developed areas are inspiring. Re-envisioning can reveal solutions.


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