Re-Imagining Sustainability

 This assignment was locked Jun 8 at 11:59pm.

Part of the difficulty in shifting to a more sustainable lifestyle in this country is to imagine how community structures and resources could be changed to more sustainable options. You will need to think about the changes that can be influenced by individual choices, and those that would require collective planning within a community or neighborhood (for the benefit of everyone). Consult ideas and resources in chapter 18 as well as other ecological footprint information from the footprint network and your text.

You will need to develop one idea for changing human systems that influence the sustainability everyday living, and to express that idea effectively in map, and a written description of a plan. The first step in bringing about change is imagining it. It is that step that we are trying to address with this assignment, so it is important that you investigate what sustainable plans are available, and what changes you would propose. (Hint: Don’t provide me with something already planned or in place- this is NOT the assignment!!)

How to proceed:

  1. First, in order to think and evaluate issues of sustainability more broadly, calculate your ecological footprint through the Global Footprint network, with the link available here: (Links to an external site.)
  2. (10 pts.) Describe the questions that are asked about your lifestyle that influence your ecological foot print. List them or put them in a table, and then describe how much you are able to influence the “Number of Earths” required to live your lifestyle for each of the categories listed. Visit the Global map for the Global Footprint network available here (Links to an external site.) How does the Global Footprint of the United States compare to other countries? How does living in the United States influence your ecological footprint?
  3. Read Ten Things Wrong with Sprawl located in the Canvas Course files folder here: 10+things_sprawl.pdfActions. Does this source of information provide clues as to why an individual ecological footprint in the United States might be larger than an individual in France, given the same individual lifestyle information?
  4. Then, map an area near where you live that you are familiar with. Your map can be a hand-drawn sketch, a photocopy of a close-up paper map, a close-up map available from the web (e.g., from Google maps or similar mapping service), or any other source. The area mapped can range in size from smaller than a city block, to a neighborhood, or part of a small city. Your map should depict some element of the infrastructure, physical or not, as it currently exists (e.g., roads, housing unit locations, greenspace, development patterns, sidewalks, public transport, school locations, school transportation plans, food production, utilities, etc.). You will NOT be graded on your technical expertise as a mapmaker—but rather on how effectively the map conveys the features that are relevant to your sustainability idea. You will need a legend showing what colors and symbols on your map are depicting, and probably some text on the map.
  5. Then make a second map, using your first map as a template that effectively shows your proposed change to current conditions so that individuals there have more sustainable living options, following the same map guidelines as above. Be creative—you do not have to limit yourself to ideas from class or the readings. (Maps and illustration of plan 10 pts.)
  6. (20 pts based on following criteria) In 750-1500 words, explain your sustainability idea. Address each of the following in separate sections of your discussion: a. Describe your proposed change, referring to your map. b. How, specifically, your proposed change makes the infrastructure or community more environmentally sustainable than it currently is, and what are the benefits to 1) the environment and 2) humans c. the costs and any negatives of your plan d. how you might overcome the negatives you identified, including how you would generate the resources necessary to make possible the change you propose.

The assignment will be graded on content (does it reflect a good understanding of environmental sustainability and sound critical thinking about ways to achieve it? i.e. Adding solar panels to a building is not a re-imagining or sustainability) and the effectiveness with which the content is communicated. Note: The point of this exercise is to generate ideas without constraining ourselves to inside-the-box thinking. At the same time, please do not be completely unrealistic in your plans, and keep in mind the issues raised in the readings. Assume only currently existing technologies are available (No teleporting allowed!) and be sure to address all parts (a-d) of the assignment.

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