For decades, American cities have experimented with ways to remake themselves in response to climate change. These efforts, often driven by grassroots activism, offer valuable lessons for transforming the places we live. In From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities, design expert Alison Sant focuses on the unique ways in which US cities are working to mitigate and adapt to climate change while creating equitable and livable communities. She shows how, from the ground up, we are raising the bar to make cities places in which we don’t just survive, but where all people have the opportunity to thrive.
The efforts discussed in the book demonstrate how urban experimentation and community-based development are informing long-term solutions. Sant shows how US cities are reclaiming their streets from cars, restoring watersheds, growing forests, and adapting shorelines to improve people’s lives while addressing our changing climate. The best examples of this work bring together the energy of community activists, the organization of advocacy groups, the power of city government, and the reach of federal environmental policy.
Sant presents 12 case studies, drawn from research and over 90 interviews with people who are working in these communities to make a difference. For example, advocacy groups in Washington, DC are expanding the urban tree canopy and offering job training in the growing sector of urban forestry. In New York, transit agencies are working to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians while shortening commutes. In San Francisco, community activists are creating shoreline parks while addressing historic environmental injustice.
From the Ground Up is a call to action. When we make the places we live more climate resilient, we need to acknowledge and address the history of social and racial injustice. Advocates, non-profit organizations, community-based groups, and government officials will find examples of how to build alliances to support and embolden this vision together. Together we can build cities that will be resilient to the challenges ahead.