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Mindful : August 2018
“There’s not one single county in America where if you work full time in a minimum-wage job you can afford to rent a two-bedroom apar tment.” I don’t view green building as a choice, then. It’s not optional. It’s an inherent responsibility. You’ve said, “Truly great urban places have the potential to be the most environmentally benign form of human settlement and are at the heart of a sustainable future.” You’ve also said they can be places of healing. How? First of all, by integrating nature. We’re seeing this in cities around the world. Singapore is a leader in this regard. They’re increasing density: having taller buildings that house more people so they can free up more space for nature—and nature is a great healer. Secondly, we can recognize that the mission of human culture is to enhance our own well- being and the well-being of nature. We’re seeing little bits of models where healthcare systems are evolving from just providing medicine to being purveyors of well-being, and there are school systems that are beginning to do that. We’re about to develop a new project in East Harlem that hopes to be a model of this. We see this community as very active and engaged, integrating housing and health, education, envi- ronmental protection, and healthy food. There are also contemplative spaces being built within it. And we’re not the only ones doing these kinds of things. These types of integrated developments sound promising. But affordability is such an issue in American cities, particularly in cities that are thriving. How do you solve for that? There are 20 million American families today that spend more than 50% of their income on housing, and that’s because the housing is so expensive and their incomes are so low. There’s → its streets. Networks of parks, trees, green roofs, and community gardens would enhance its biodiversity, feeding indigenous birds and other pollinators. Rivers would be restored, and swaths of forests and fields in the region would be protected. It turns out that a city can pick any overarching set of compassionate goals for humans and for nature, and achieve a better outcome by realizing it. As long as those goals have deeply altruistic intentions and the city com- mits to have those intentions pro- foundly influence ever y decision, every project, every action that it makes, then the city will continuously evolve toward harmony—human and natural. Altruism will be its greatest protec- tive factor. And compassion will be its source. Excerpted and adapted from The Well-Tempered City by Jonathan F. P. Rose. Copyright © 2016. Reprinted by permission of HarperWave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. August 2018 mindful 69 society