Manhattan Waterfront Greenway — and Hope for L.A.?
by Robert Garcia
This is the third in a series of Green Justice reports on cities that are revitalizing urban waters, including Madrid, New York, Los Angeles and Habana.
I biked with my son along the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, which wraps 32 miles around the island. The ride made me realize some of the best times of my life I have spent biking with my three sons.
I was stunned by the views of the Hudson River on the West Side, and of the East River on the, well, East Side. The greenway lined with parks and green streets invites people to bike, walk, jog, blade, kayak, sail, soar, read, sit, talk, kiss, hold hands, do nothing — and play. The greenway transforms what was a long-ignored and derelict waterfront into a green attraction for recreation, wellness and commuting, generates economic benefits and promotes conservation values in the dense urban setting of New York City. People from all walks of life reflecting the diversity of Manhattan were everywhere along the greenway. I lived in Manhattan for many years, practicing international law at a large firm, defending people on Death Row, and prosecuting public corruption, drug, and organized crime cases as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. It is astounding how much the Greenway has transformed the waterfront and adds to the City and the experience of being in it. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a best practice to revitalize rivers and inner cities across the nation.
Read more here: http://www.cityprojectca.org/blog/archives/14294
And check out the series:
Rest in Peace: Ancestors Finally Return to El Pueblo
Parque Madrid Río, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
A Tale of Two, Three, Four, or Five Rivers
The Grass Roots Fight for Clean Water and Green Justice
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, in collaboration with other organizations, presents the Sugary Drinks Summit of 2012, a national advocacy conference to motivate and strengthen national, state, and local initiatives, both public and private, to reduce sugary-drink consumption in the United States. During the event, researchers, government officials, state and local legislators, health professionals, low-income and minority advocates, youth activists, consumer groups, faith-based organizations, health insurers, and business leaders, will strategize to improve health by reversing the dramatic increase in sugary-drink consumption over the past decades. The meeting will convene a diverse group of experienced activists, as well as those who have only begun to address sugary-drink issues, facilitating an open exchange of expertise and ideas that benefits each level of participant. That interaction will both broaden and strengthen the constituency working to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and add momentum to a growing public health movement. For more information: http://www.fewersugarydrinks.com/elements/pdf/summit_registration.pdf
Register! International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in the US and Canada, March 30-31, 2012 New York City
In a time of widespread budget crises and plummeting trust in government, politicians and community members are searching for more democratic and accountable ways to manage public money. Participatory Budgeting (PB) offers an alternative. PB is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. After spreading around the world for over 20 years, “Participatory Budgeting” is making waves in the United States and Canada. It is giving people the power to make real decisions over the budgets that affect their lives. For More Information: http://pbconference.wordpress.com/
by Naira Antoun
Space is never something that people simply use; we make meaning out of space through how we use it. And the revolution has seen a transformation in public space. That it is no longer surprising to see public walls – even those of Cairo’s administrative Mogamma building or Supreme Court – adorned with political graffiti speaks powerfully to this transformation, and to public space both as a site and instrument of revolutionary struggle.
This transformation takes place against the backdrop of urban planning that sought to limit the availability of open spaces in which citizens might congregate, and the development of gated communities for the wealthy that, along with exclusive parks, constitute a privatisation of space.
Grass Roots: Madison Recognizes Housing as a Human Right
Capital Times, December 2, 2011
by Pat Schneider
The resolution reads a little like an almanac of the dispossessed: homeless families turned away from shelter, people of color disproportionately shut out, gays targeted, immigrants exploited and the elderly stripped of their savings.
It's the underside of the housing market in Madison and Dane County, marked by raging home foreclosures, low apartment vacancy rates, and rising rents in the face of stalled wages and high unemployment.
Those forces make decent, affordable housing hard to come by for many, leaving people in precarious housing vulnerable to crime and gang influence, and closing off the path to stability and prosperity to low-income families and ex-offenders alike.
In the face of such dire prospects for the disadvantaged, the city of Madison this week joined Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York City and Cook County, Ill., in recognizing housing as a human right.
A resolution passed Tuesday by the Madison City Council on a voice vote without comment declares "that housing be recognized as a human right and that all people who desire a place of shelter and stable long-term housing be prioritized to have this basic need met both temporarily and permanently."
MONTREAL, Aug. 26, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - At the closing ceremony of the ninth Ecocity World Summit, held for the first time in Canada and organized by the Montréal Urban Ecology Centre (MUEC), Jayne Engle-Warnick, vice-president of the MUEC, said: "The Ecocity Summit brought together 1,500 delegates from 280 cities and 70 countries. Based on what we heard from experts during the conference, cities in Canada and all over the world are facing enormous challenges with limited resources. But we also heard that cities are the key to solving global issues such as climate change, the fight against poverty, and social exclusion."
Luc Rabouin, executive director of the MUEC, added: "During the Ecocity Summit, we learned about hundreds of inspiring solutions and ideas from all over the world, including Quebec and Montréal. Montréal has inspiration to offer for other cities, especially with its Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, public consultation practices, and numerous initiatives led by different civil society organizations in different neighbourhoods. But we have a lot to do before we catch up to the most advanced cities in the world. We need to refuse absurd and incomprehensible projects like the Turcot interchange. We have some interesting plans, but it is time to put them into action."
Six Future Challenges
Before becoming an ecocity, Montréal and its greater metropolitan area will meet many challenges: ending urban sprawl and increasing density in existing urban areas, investing more in public transportation, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and greening, and creating more space for citizens in decision-making processes.
Revising the Act Respecting Land Use Planning and Urban Development, currently underway at the National Assembly of Quebec, and developing a new Metropolitan Land Use Planning and Development Plan, an initiative taken on by the Montréal Metropolitan Community, are two excellent opportunities for ending urban sprawl and increasing the density of existing areas around efficient public transportation hubs.
Investing in Public Transportation
To overcome the current transportation crisis in Quebec, the Government of Quebec will need to immediately invest great sums of money in permanent highly efficient public transportation infrastructures and services.
Densification and Greening
Dense urban areas concentrate local services and reduce travel distances. To prevent urban heat islands and create quality public spaces, densification also needs to include greening measures and urban agriculture, both of which are often low-cost, high-impact solutions.
Favour Active Transportation
The Montréal Transportation Plan, adopted in 2008, stresses the importance of "restoring the appropriate quality of life to Montréal's residential neighbourhoods" and promises the creation of green neighbourhoods to favour walking and biking. Eventually, the City of Montréal will have to support the implementation of a network of interconnected green neighbourhoods. "Here, it's also time to move from planning to action," says Luc Rabouin, executive director of the Montréal Urban Ecology Centre.
The Montréal Development Plan and the revision of the Master Plan are ideal opportunities to involve the city's entire community, especially citizens, in developing a major collective project for Montréal.
Taxation and Good Governance
Despite the clear intentions of certain cities in Quebec, such as Montréal, one thing is clear: cities are part of the solution, but they have very few resources and little power to realize their ambitions. The true fiscal imbalance in Canada is the disadvantage cities have in relation to other levels of government. Cities should have access to a bigger part of the tax base.
Cities also need to change their methods of governance to re-establish a transparent relationship with citizens and ensure optimal use of limited public resources. Montréal needs to join the movement of more than 1,400 cities around the world, of which more than 300 are in Europe (Paris, Rome, Seville, Berlin), and implement a Participatory Budget that is appropriate for its context. Participatory budgeting is a solution that has been approved and recommended by major international agencies, such as UN-Habitat.
Principal Partners The Ecocity World Summit 2011 could not have taken place without the support of its principal partners: Bombardier, TD Group, the City of Montréal, and the Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l'Occupation du territoire (Government of Quebec).
About the Montréal Urban Ecology Centre
The Montréal Urban Ecology Centre is an independent not-for-profit organization that was founded in 1996. Its mission is to build and share expertise concerning the most viable and democratic approaches to sustainable urban development. www.urbanecology.net
In this Issue:
The Geo-Politics of Aid
Addressing Social Vulnerability Before Disaster Strikes
History and Hope: New Mexuco's Road to the Future
Mainstreaming Equality: Interview with Veena Vasista
Transportation Justice: Essential to Democracy
The Praxis Project releases a new study by Veena Vasista that examines equality initiatives in Great Britain over the last two decades. The publication, Mainstreaming Equality in Great Britain: Lessons for United States? by Veena Vasista is the culmination of interviews and retrospective analysis over 2009 and early 2010. Says Vasista, a Chicago native and a UK resident for more than 15 years, offers a unique bi-national perspective. The UK has pioneered several important initiatives addressing structural racism, gender equity and equity for differently abled. Legal requirements of public agencies' "duty to involve" those affected by decisionmaking also offers some important models for the US.
Says Vasista, "Having legislation which requires that public bodies promote equality is one way of ensuring that at least minimal steps are taken to promote equality in policymaking, regardless of the ideology of the party in power."