All in Urban Policy

by Amy Kochanowsky, staff editor A new solution to feeding the world’s burgeoning urban population in a sustainable way may be the introduction of vertical farms. A vertical farm is essentially a skyscraper that largely makes use of hydroponic techniques to support crops. Dickson Despommier, a Columbia University professor and main force behind the movement, touts the benefits in his recent book, the Vertical Farm. I applaud Despommier’s vision of a more sustainable future and his ability to inspire innovation. However, this concept is still in a nascent stage and there are many details to be worked out before any designs could be successfully implemented.

By Blake Holt, staff editor "Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from, the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so may it destroy. If it may destroy, it may abridge and control.” —John Forrest Dillon, 1868

Dillon’s Law is one of the cornerstones of municipal government in America. As stated in the quote above from Justice John Forrest Dillon, Dillon’s Law limits the scope of municipal legislation to matters in which it has been granted authority by the state legislature. However, compliance with this law has jeopardized Durham County’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in the private sector by 2030.

Reviewed by Trey Akers Academic colleagues Peter Newman (Curtin University, Australia) and Timothy Beatley (University of Virginia) team with Island Press Senior Editor Heather Boyer to share personal experiences of sustainable urban policy as a response to risks posed by peak oil and climate change. For the first two authors, this work emerges out of crucial events surrounding the 1970s oil crisis, circumstances that shocked each as social disarray and a loss of individual freedom that transformed economic, political, and social relationships across society. Along with Boyer, a 2005 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University, the authors draw upon direct encounters with innovations in city design. More than sustainable design solutions, however, a desire to create places—settlements that strengthen human connectedness and bonds to the natural landscape—drives the authors’ impetus to restructure cities.