response: wrapping up

So, we’re all set to go build that now, right? (No, but it did come from a nice article about the green city v. the garden city.)

The semester is coming to a close, but it seems like I’m just beginning to soak in the tools and ideas of our Sustainable Communities course.

I enjoyed the use of social media–learning from my peers & extending my focus on sustainable living well beyond the classroom. I enjoyed the personal project, challenging myself to live more sustainably & be accountable for my actions. But I most enjoyed how the content flowed throughout all aspects of my life.

Were all the readings great? No. Did I complain about Roseland’s constant summarizing rather than really digging into details? Definitely. Did I gloss over readings when they started to sound repetitive? Too often.

But the content became so ingrained in me that it regularly overflowed into conversations–from sitting in the SPEA atrium to commenting on friends’ facebook statuses (okay, and sometimes becoming too argumentative) to deciding on restaurants. Even walks around town(s) have changed–thinking about zoning, mixed-use, where buildings are in relation to the road, how people are engaging with the space around them.

It’s got me thinking a lot about Zizek’s views on philanthropy & charity. Here’s a great summary:

Sustainability pushes us closer to this model–where social consciousness is the norm & “charity” is integrated into policy & daily life to avoid a sort of do-good rebound effect. This is even more than the “hand up” over a “hand out” philosophy. This is all hands, working together for an equitable society. For me, this is sustainability.

We’re at the end of the semester, but the class doesn’t end. At the beginning of the semester, we were challenged to I’m still working on that, but I have always been most intrigued by the communities that put equity at the center of their planning. The compassion & commitment it fosters–for fellow citizens & place–is frequently undervalued. It’s like the glass on top of those champagne pyramids–fill it up, and equity will overflow into a value of the environment & a robust local economy.

I’ll see you Wednesday for my final wrap-up of the personal project (plus a final Friday budget update)!


About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
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