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Midwest Book Review: From the Ground Up

From the Ground Up
Alison Sant
Island Press
2000 M St NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
www.islandpress.org
9781610918961, $35.00, PB, 304pp

Synopsis: 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. With the publication of From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities, design expert and author 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 and showcased in From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities 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.

From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities is comprised of 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.

Critique: Especially and unreservedly recommended reading for environmental activists and governmental policy makers, From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities is a clarion and illustrated call to action regarding the necessity for communities to become climate resilient in the face of inexorable climate change driven impacts while acknowledging and addressing the unfortunate social and racial injustice of past urban developments. While highly recommended for community, governmental, college, and university library Environmental Studies & Issues collections, it should be noted for personal and professional reading lists that From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $33.25).

Editorial Note: Alison Sant is a co-founder and partner in the Studio for Urban Projects, an interdisciplinary design collaborative based in San Francisco. She has taught at the California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the College of Environmental Design, University of California Berkeley.

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