After weeks of nonexistent or at best sporadic Internet access, being able to get online just about whenever I want can be pretty exciting, let me tell you. At the tail end of our Indian summer and during the trip back to the US via Europe, I’ve been exploring and catching up and reading up on all the things that have been accumulating on my mental lists… like there’s no tomorrow. And for some reason — maybe because I was in that monstrous, magical mess of a city known as Mumbai — I kept coming across stories about really neat and inspiring inventions and social innovations from around the world that make cities more livable, resilient, and conducive to real community. Here are a few links in particular that made me excited about the potential of urban sustainability:
- Check out this entirely portable urban farming project in Vancouver, WA — one model for how urban farmers could get around the problem of land access.
- Want to keep valuable materials out of landfills, and maybe learn to fix your toaster in the process? How about starting a Repair Café in your community?
- We returned to the US via Amsterdam, and I could not get over how bike-friendly the city is. Everyone is biking, from businessmen in suits to elderly ladies to parents with small kids (and they look so hip and healthy and happy). There are bike lanes and bike parking everywhere, and the city center is almost entirely car-free (ergo noise- and pollution-free). These Cargobikes are one of the neat models I saw for transporting everything from groceries to laundry to toddlers.
- A fantastic initiative in Washington, DC Food Swap, and other similar groups are bringing together urban communities to barter homegrown, homemade, or foraged foods with each other. No money is involved, and in the process the participants get to sample foods, get to know each other, and share food knowledge.
- Amaranth! This “happiness plant” is what I want to start growing next. It can yield a lot of food in a small space, so it’s a viable option for urban gardens.
- Not strictly about urban issues, but something I want to share nonetheless: Transition Voice just published a piece I wrote on consumer culture and its alternatives, taking my cue from some of the amazing communities I’ve spent time with in India. You can read it here.