Urban Resources and Sustainability
October 8, 2011
What Does it Mean to Me to Live in the City?
People. Lights. Existence. The city is a place that is bustling with life, a constant process of creation, innovation and renovation. Some people are born into the city while others come searching for opportunity, adventure or simply a change. The city is ever-changing as the population grows and dwindles through time. Industry creates or destroys life; the economy a delicate ecosystem that must be nurtured. The city represents different things to different people; ultimately, each person will choose what the city is. Cities are so diverse throughout the world, I cannot fathom grouping them under an umbrella as if they are the same. I have lived in two large cities, very far apart from each other, Tampa, Florida and Portland, Oregon. My reasons for living in the city have evolved as I have experienced and learned more in my life. Ultimately, living in the city means opportunity, relationships and progress.
Growing up on 825 acres of private property on a Christian campground was the ideal childhood. I was safe, free to play and surrounded by people who loved me and wanted the best for me. My mind was guarded and my heart free to love. When I moved from this place to Gresham, Oregon in 2000, I felt as if I had been torn from my safe haven and thrown into a “city”. Gresham at the time was a suburb, actually nothing like a city, but to me it was huge, loud, busy, and foreign. I hated it. I cried myself to sleep every night praying that God would take me back to the campground. My perspective as a 13 year-old was limited, uneducated and uncultivated. I did not even realize Portland was 20 minutes down the road, a real city, much bigger than me or Gresham.
At the age of 19 I moved to Tampa, Florida, really not knowing what I was getting myself into. It took moving to Tampa, Florida to realize what an amazing city Portland, Oregon is. When I returned two years later, I was eager to explore the city. I now had an appreciation for the unique people, life, energy and opportunity the city offers.
In Tampa I was exposed to the many opportunities the city offers. In a healthy city, more people creates more industry, which creates more employment. Many cities have a few core industries, but it is best to have a diversified economy. The city offers opportunities to contribute to the good of the world, as well as the bad. Some of the highest crime rates exist in the city, but also, the majority of human services are offered in the busiest, most populated areas. As an individual living in the city I have the opportunity to work to enrich the lives of others by pursuing my purpose, or the opportunity to live off of the others choosing to pursue theirs.
Because the city is full of people, it is rich with the opportunity for relationship. Unfortunately, our culture has moved in an anti-social direction for a long time with the development of technology. People can choose who they do and do not want to associate with and can sit in a room being connected to their social circle while not talking to the person sitting right next to them. This disconnect has become evident and many organizations are realizing the value of face to face relationship, working to renew these encounters. As an individual in the city, I have the opportunity to pursue relationships with the many people around me and do little things to brighten the day of the numerous people I see throughout the day. Asking the gas attendant how he/she is doing and thanking the server with a smile and a tip may be just the thing that person needed to boost their spirit. Living in the city means being open to new and renewed relationships.
The city would not survive without progress. In Emerald Cities, Joan Fitzgerald explores cities that have made great progress in sustainable development. Freiburg Germany is one of the leading cities using renewable energy. What is extremely encouraging for the future of the world is that “Freiburg’s commitment to sustainable development is also creating economic development” (2).Using feed-in tariffs and grants specific for green living, more and more cities are beginning to build with a sustainable mindset. Portland, Oregon has an apartment complex in the Pearl District that is devoted to green living. The Sitka Apartments use non-toxic cleaning products, water-conserving washing machines, energy-efficient dryers and fan-forced, baseboard or radiant heating systems to conserve energy. This forward thinking is what will save the health of humans and the health of the environment. Doing things how they have always been done rarely promotes progress. Desiring a better life is what motivates mankind into progressive thinking. Living in the city for me means progress, not only in my education and career, but in my self-development.
Living in the city can mean many things. For me it is about doing the best I can to honor God in the way resources are used and people are treated. Social justice must be a factor when decisions are being made in the city. I want to honor the opportunity to grow relationships while making progress on this journey.
Fitzgerald, Joan. "Chapter 1." Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.
Sitka Apartments-Portland Oregon Apartments. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.