Views from the Edge

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Welcome to the CRC blog, where we discuss bleeding edge issues around sustainable community development. The term ‘bleeding edge’ connotes the idea of our failure to somehow or other convince the publics about the urgency of responding to climate change now, and that we need to better communicate the principles and practises of sustainable development to the wider publics. So, yes it takes courage to be 'at the edge', and sometimes one 'bleeds' a lot, but let's start the conversation now.

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We recently produced this video, a vision for 2015 for sustainable community development. I deliberatively chose 2015 because I believe we have enough information, enough science to act now to achieve this dream, what is needed is political will. Just imagine if we had a Federal Government that had the courage to implement a policy of virtually zero waste in the private and public sectors by 2015. How much innovation would that spark in our industrial leaders?

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I read an interesting article in the latest edition of Maclean's last night, entitled Building a better city. If you look at how an ecosystem works, it spends as much time on maintaining itself as growing, unlike human systems.  Our infrastructure deficit is continuing, making the cost of replacement greater every year we keep sticking our heads in the sand. The infrastructure deficit is estimated at $123 billion in 2007, up exponentially from $12 billion in 1985 and $60 billion in 2003.

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The Occupy Wall Street movement has many supporters and of course, many detractors. What I find interesting is that there are so many well-educated young people involved. Clearly, this demonstrates a deep structural problem that is not being addressed, why are so many young well educated people under or unemployed in today's society? Another disturbing trend is the chart below showing that even though GDP has increased, so has inequality. What does this mean for the good society and what questions should we be asking?

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We have just published A Policy Agenda for Canadian Muncipalities. This is agenda is the result of a series of e-Dialogues held with 19 sustainability planners from across the country, who then identified 6 international case studies that were leaders in implementing sustainable development. We then came together again to discuss the lessons to be learned from these six leaders and their application to the Canadian context.

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In asking ourselves what is important, what do we value and how is what we are doing affecting our well-being, sometimes pictures and music are worth a thousand words. Why do human systems always seem to trend to maximal scale? Sustainable systems should self-organize to a scale that optimizes economic prosperity while respecting ecological limits. We have an article on this topic published in Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy, Spring/Summer 2009, Volume 5, Issue 1.

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