Monday, November 2, 2009

Green Metropolis: What the City Can Teach the Country About True Sustainability by David Owen

Introduction and disclaimer:

I read this book last month when I was on vacation. I had just stayed up to six AM because of a twelve hour marathon of season 4 of Doctor Who, slept for eight hours, and awoke at 2 PM with a migraine. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the sky was blue, and I had not yet gotten out of bed. Overcome with guilt, I decided to read an educational book with my coffee and picked Green Metropolis since it appeared to advocate cities. Amazingly enough, after one hour I felt the need to go to my nearby park and commune with nature in its relatively wild oak forest. I'm not sure how happy that urge would make David Owen.

In the first chapter, David Owen admits that he and his wife, empty-nesters, live in a large house in a small town in Connecticut. He uses a huge amount of heat and energy. He drives everywhere and uses big box stores. I appreciated his disclosure of his lifestyle, which directly contradicts what he advocates in his book. As such, I wish to make a disclosure statement about myself before I lead this virtual discussion.

I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens in a pre-war building. I use lots of paper towels, strip-mined cat litter, and plastic bags daily while taking care of my elderly cats. I don't feed them organic cat food (they refuse to eat the expensive food or use PC cat litter). I also don't use energy-saver light bulbs since the day when one of the cats broke a lamp, and ran in with a piece of broken light bulb as a present for me. Since these bulbs contain mercury, I don't want them where the cats get mercury on their mouths or paws. I recycle, I am not a vegetarian, and I can rarely make it to a farmer's market because there are few in Queens and I usually work Saturdays. I decided not to join a CSA since there are none where I work and I would have to take time off from work to pick up my order at a distant location.

Tonight I will be attending a Jane Jacobs Forum lecture at the Municpal Art Society about urban farming:

http://mas.org/designing-urban-farms-to-feed-new-york/

Tomorrow will be my first post where I discuss David Owen's views on urban farms as well as what I've gathered from my own research and the lecture.

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