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Jim Proctor

"Green Giant" | Willamette Week - 0 views

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    The Oregon Sustainability Center, to be housed on PSU campus, embodies the utopia of high-tech self-sufficiency unlike no other contemporary structure around, and may possibly be unique in the U.S. today. But at what cost? And, is this the utopia we want to pursue??
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    This is the topic of an article that I posted to the Symposium2011 diigo group. (http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/07/07/07greenwire-bold-public-private-venture-aims-to-make-ore-c-32109.html?pagewanted=all)

    Originally I posted it due to it's relevance to the "future of cities" topic. Portland often comes up in discussions about progressive cities, and this is merely one more reason for it to do so. The questions you bring up here about cost and utopian attitude I think are particularly relevant to the broader question of cities and would be really interesting for us to explore further.

    In my discussion with Micah earlier today, for example, we talked about Portland in general being a sort of utopia. Specifically we were discussing the tendency of highly motivated and concerned people to move to Portland away from other places that might actually be in greater need of their work. I asked "what's more important: investing in a model of the ideal to generate enthusiasm and prove it can be done, or spreading efforts out to places less conducive to the changes?"
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    I'll say it publicly, with the hopes of getting some debate on this: I don't think you've proven it can be done if it is in the model of the ideal (operating under the assumption that most places are specifically not the ideal, and are not neccesarily conducive to the changes). Just because something can be done in an ideal place does not mean it can be spread out. I see it as more likely that when something is done succesfully in a place that is antagonistic to it, something is really right with whatever that something may be.

    While answers are naturally specific to the issue or solution in question (so I apologize for the vague language), I'm of the mind that a lot of the things Portland has done to make things "work" may not be easily replicated outside of Portland, as much because of structure as because of culture. This is a debate where it is particularly difficult to make broad assumptions, of course, and there will be exceptions to either and any side, but I lean towards making changes where the changes are not conducive. I welcome opposition though, I'm curious what others think coming from other regions and from Portland itself.
Jim Proctor

Critic's Notebook - In Arabian Desert, a Sustainable City Rises - NYTimes.com - 2 views

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    A fascinating review, certainly to understand the technological advances of this "sustainable city" but also to understand its shadows: "[the designer's] fantasy world is only possible as a meticulously planned community, built from the ground up and of modest size. What Masdar really represents, in fact, is the crystallization of another global phenomenon: the growing division of the world into refined, high-end enclaves and vast formless ghettos where issues like sustainability have little immediate relevance."  Is this what we are after?
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