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Haiti & Deepening Perspectives on Sustainable Land Development
January 2010

Terry Mock
Executive Director

As we started to publish this issue, Haiti was devastated by yet another catastrophic event that literally drives the inevitible outcome of unsustainable land development into the ground. Beyond the immediate relief efforts, perhaps now is the time to seriously consider restoring a sustainable Haiti.

This past month, three other ground-breaking events provided differing, yet deepening perspectives to the discourse on sustainable land development. Interestingly, all of these events become well integrated when looked at through the holistic lens of SLDI and The SLDI Code™.

Opening to critical acclaim and unprecedented commercial success, James Cameron’s 3-D movie spectacle Avatar has become the fastest film to reach $1 billion in box office receipts. Here’s the plot set up - In 2154, the profit-focused RDA corporation is unsustainably mining Pandora, a lush, Earth-like moon of another planet. Pandora is inhabited by the Na’vi, a sapient species who has adapted to integrate their lives in ways that sustain their planet. The Na'vi resist the colonists' expansion, which threatens the continued existence of the Na'vi and their ecosystem - sort of like Dances with Wolves meets Star Wars.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Charles C. Mann sets the record straight with a new nonfiction book released this past month that provides a fascinating look at the real lives of ancient Meso-American people – Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491. This is an adaptation of Mann’s best-selling nonfiction book 1491, which turned everything I had previously learned about American history on its head by demonstrating that a growing number of anthropologists and archaeologists now believe that the Western Hemisphere before Columbus's arrival was well-populated and dotted with impressive cities and towns - one scholar estimated that it held a hundred million people or more – more than lived in Europe at the time. The Indians had transformed vast swaths of landscape to meet their agricultural needs by using fire to create prairies for increased game production, and had also cultivated at least part of the forest, living on crops of fruits and nuts.

The contentious debate over what the ecosystem looked like before Columbus arrived has important ramifications for how we sustainably manage the landscape of the future – one which many environmentalists may not like to hear. According to Mann -

Guided by the pristine myth, mainstream environmentalists want to preserve as much of the world's land as possible in a putatively intact state. But "intact," if the new research is correct, means "run by human beings for human purposes." Environmentalists dislike this, because it seems to mean that anything goes. In a sense they are correct. Native Americans managed the continent as they saw fit. Modern nations must do the same. If they want to return as much of the landscape as possible to its 1491 state, they will have to find it within themselves to create the world's largest garden.
And finally, green building certification programs today pay scant attention to landscaping, but they should, according to the Sustainable Sites Initiative, which has just announced release of “the world's first rating system for the design, construction and maintenance of sustainable landscapes.” For the next two years the program will be tried out on test projects nationwide in order to fine-tune the landscaping standards. This and other certification programs fit well within the scope of The SLDI Code™ and SLDI embraces their development. In fact, SLDI pilot project Ocean Mountain Ranch has applied to participate in the Sustainable Sites Initiative as a portion of its pilot phase participation in The SLDI Code™ best practices system.

Your participation and comments are welcome.

Terry Mock
Executive Director
Sustainable Land Development International

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    • Dubai reaches for the sky
      (January 4, 2010) "This is Las Vegas on steroids," said Terry Mock, executive director of Sustainable Land Development International, an organization that promotes development that balances economic, environmental and societal goals.
      Source: By Jim Kavanagh, CNN

    • Adapt planning to people instead of jamming people into plans
      (January 5, 2010) Rick Harrison, based in suburban Minneapolis, designs unusual subdivisions: They look unusually nice. It's because, says Harrison, he figured out better geometry for streets and lots. He's been perfecting it for more than a decade.
      Source: By Patrick McIlheran St. Paul Pioneer Express

    • Show me the money: Please show me the money!
      (December 23, 2009) Big lenders are not much interested in offering borrowers long-term, fixed-rate mortgages at current interest rates.
      Source: Curtis Seltzer on LandThink
    • 2009 offered a trove of climate stories
      (January 11. 2010) Journalists worldwide produced more than 32,000 stories on climate change last year, but the coverage was not enough to warrant a spot on a map showing major news events of 2009.
      Source: Daily Climate
    • Little 'green' vehicles taking over Detroit
      (January 9, 2010) Small is now big in Detroit. Little cars with lots of green technology will move into the spotlight like never before during the next few weeks in a city synonymous with wheels, roaring engines and horsepower.
      Source: Toronto Star, Ontario
    • 'Green' tech goes from gimmick to mainstay
      (January 9, 2010) For years, the technology industry has been "going green." At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, most businesses have finally gotten there.
      Source: Los Angeles Times, California.
    • A once-dark Polaroid factory goes green
      (January 5, 2010) Many old factories around the country now sit dark and empty. But at a once-defunct Polaroid film factory in New Bedford, Mass., the lights are on again and a new industry is rising up inside the ruins of an old one.
      Source: Morning Edition, NPR
    • From open sewer to green parkway
      (January 5, 2010) For decades, the Miguelete, the main waterway running through the Uruguayan capital, was a virtual open sewer. Then a comprehensive effort launched in the late 1990s set out to do the seemingly impossible: clean up the Miguelete.
      Source: Inter Press Service.
    • Sustainability comes of age
      (January 1, 2010) There is a shift happening that reflects a coming-of-age of sustainability as a field, away from the back-to-nature ethos of earlier efforts and toward a realization that there are grittier problems - and solutions.
      Souce: New York Times
    • Building green a trend in China
      (December 30, 2009) The latest trend in building architecture in China is being driven more by the urgency of sustainability than by the desire for sublimity.
      Source: China Daily
    • Are engines the future of solar power?
      (December 31, 2009) Nearly 200 years after their invention, and decades after first being proposed as a method of harnessing solar energy, 60 sun-powered Stirling engines are about to begin generating electricity outside Phoenix, Ariz., for the first time.
      Source: Scientific American
    • CU-Boulder to offer new sustainability certificate program
      (December 30, 2009) The University of Colorado is launching a new certificate program in sustainability management for professionals to green their workplaces.
      Source: Boulder Daily Camera, Colorado
    • An environmental pioneer surfs a long green wave.
      (December 27, 2009) Since taking the job as UC San Diego's first director of strategic energy initiatives in September 2008, Byron Washom has worked to turn the 1,200-acre campus into a model of sustainability, a "living laboratory."
      Source: Los Angeles Times, California.
    • Going green, environmentally and financially
      (December 25, 2009) Charles Szoradi is gaining widespread acclaim and recognition as he presses the case for going green in more conventional ways. In the process, he's trying to make some money.
      Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania

    Editor's Note: SLDI News Service may feature press releases submitted directly by organizations in SLDI's network. This content is not specifically endorsed or supported by SLDI and is not subject to SLDI's editorial process.


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