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The City That Could’ve Been: Eden by Design Book Review

Purple sky overlooking DTLA

The 1920’s were a time of massive expansion for Los Angeles, with the population growing from 102,000 in 1900, to 577,000 in 1920, and over 1.2 million in 1929. This growth was incredible, but it’s difficult for a city to be able to accomodate so many new citizens in such a short amount of time. Infrastructure had to be laid down, utility lines were set in place, and airports were being created, but this construction was coming at a cost of destroying the natural beauty that California was known for. Therefore, a Citizen’s Committee was created with the sole purpose of commissioning a plan for the future of Los Angeles, and they hired Olmsted and Bartholomew to create such report. The result was Parks, Playgrounds, and Beaches for the Los Angeles Region, a 178-page comprehensive study of Los Angeles whose “immediate purpose is to show why more parks and other means of recreation are now urgently needed; to suggest the most effective ways of meeting this need; and to point out the evils that will follow further delay in adopting and executing a sound and comprehensive policy”(P.83).

Unfortunately, the plan was never set in place. Many would look at the time of publishing of this report (1927) and state that it was a victim of bad timing as the Great Depression was right around the corner, and citizens were more concerned with how they were to feed their families rather than focusing on the need for parks and beaches. The truth is it came down to a fear of losing power by the members of the Chamber of Commerce, as the report called for the creation of a “regional park district” (p.128). “The planned park board… simply scared the Chamber members, many of whom clearly feared that the new body would exert powers over and above the Chamber itself” (p.39). The lack of support by the Chamber of Commerce sealed its fate before it even had a chance to go before the citizens of Los Angeles, and along with it went the hopes of becoming “the world’s dream of the City Beautiful”(p.12).

Continue reading “The City That Could’ve Been: Eden by Design Book Review”

Sustainability: Rethinking Our Connection With Nature and How We Go About Affecting It

It is crucial that we incorporate sustainability into our societies to ensure that we can continue to develop and thrive without creating extensive harm, both to the planet and to our communities. Yet, sustainability continues to be something that is not fully understood by many and ends up falling in line with being a trend rather than an entire mindset change. To create a lasting impact, there not only needs to be action taken by companies and citizens alike, but there also needs to be education put in place that allows the citizens to truly understand what it means to be sustainable, and what actions will actually have an impact versus which are being done simply as a means to appear more “eco-friendly”.

The idea of sustainability that we most often refer to is the “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” In other words, the focus is on how we can minimize the amount of resources we consume or the amount of damage that we produce so as to not interfere with the viability of future generations. This has caused us to focus more on reduction, especially of greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions, yet this emphasis has also provided companies, as well as citizens, with the ability to mitigate their responsibility thanks to carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are meant to be a way of neutralizing your carbon footprint by allowing you to fund environment-oriented projects that are focused on reducing greenhouse gasses, protecting forests, promoting renewable energy, and many more. The problem is that now you don’t necessarily have to reduce any of your own carbon footprint or live a more sustainable lifestyle whatsoever as long as you purchase enough carbon offsets to make you seem more “eco-friendly”, because the reality is that they haven’t been proven to make much of a difference when it comes to climate change, and many carbon offsets have been found to be scams. Continue reading “Sustainability: Rethinking Our Connection With Nature and How We Go About Affecting It”