Why sustainable development is so hard, when it should be as “simple as riding a bike”?

UNLEARNING as a sustainability strategy?

What does not being able to ride a bike have to do with sustainable development?  Or rather of course UNsustainable development, which is the dominant and to now apparently unbreakable pattern? Thousands of conferences have been organized, more thousands of books printed,programs launched,  actions organized, treaties signed, promises made (and broken), and despite all that and by just about all valid indicators, the bottom line of our unsustainability continues tragically to deteriorate, to destroy our gasping planet. As you can see here:

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Spring Break: Happy City Weekend on World Streets – Part 2

Charles Montgomery in traffic =-2

Charles Montgomery digs into his book “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design” in this 19 minute TEDx talk, and explains to us how happiness can be not only a wish or dream, but can be approached by policy makers and city builders as a measurable and achievable goal.

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Relayed: Seven Cities That Are Starting To Go Car-Free

The author of this brief illustrated article appearing in a recent issue of Fast Company & Inc  provides us with an easy read with pencil sketches in which she looks at and comments very briefly on a hand-picked collection of cities, each of which making their own way to their New Mobility Agenda. The selection of the seven cities is excellent (of course one can always argue, but you have picked among the top contenders) and the writer has done a good job in her short statements on each. Plus a number of very nice and evocative photos that help us first to dream, then to dare and then to do.

Milano.  Car free zone. Credit: Flickr- Chris Yunker

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The Mayor of Paris invites you to leave your car in the garage

velib-guy Paris has a sustainable transportation strategy. It is working pretty well and they continue to make steady progress on it, though with miles to go before they sleep. What makes Paris particularly interesting and instructive  as a real world example is that  for many years it did not, and by the early 70s there were first big infrastructure initiatives knocking at the door that would have certainly turned it from being a city for people into a city for cars. And that particular destiny, by the way, was not just  a random series of events. It was premeditated,  largely shared in policy circles and destined to happen. At the time, in 1974, the Prefect for Paris (Paris did not at that point have its own mayor and hence a focal point and guardian of that special qualities) famously said (in my approximate but not inaccurate memory) “Parisians are born with two legs and four wheels”. Oops!

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