Top cities stories of 2011
The reason city living is super — and supergreen
Photo: Go Oak CliffLest you start getting cold feet about cities, there really is a tremendous amount of energy and creative thought pouring forth from our urban centers these days, the Census be damned. This year, we brought you a veritable blizzard of stories on green building, urban farming, growing bike networks (more on those coming in a bike-tastic retrospective soon!), public transportation, tactical urbanism, street art, and, most recently, neighborhood-level experiments in sustainability. In the absence of real progress on climate change at the state and national levels, cities have led the charge, cutting back their greenhouse gas emissions Kyoto-Protocol-style, to hell with the fat cats in Washington. But the cutting edge is more hyper-local still. Across the country, communities are finding ways to trim down their impact on a local level. And I’m not just talking about recycling and turning off the lights. In Seattle, a high-performance downtown building district aims to cut energy consumption, water use, and transportation-related CO2 emissions to 50 percent of national averages by 2030. In Denver and Brooklyn, efforts are underway to create city blocks that operate as single, interconnected systems, saving gobs of energy and resources in the process. And OK, props to the small towns — and even the suburbs — that are doing strong work too.