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[This post was written by Sara Scott, Sarah Griswold, and Jamie Price, and complements previous students’ analysis of the question What is Sustainability?]

Environmentalism and sustainability is a very polarizing topic. There is no shortage of literature and media supporting sustainability. That being said, one has to dig a little deeper to discover literature, or other forms of media, that argue against it. In this day and age, it seems very ‘politically incorrect,’ and even risqué, to voice opinions arguing against sustainability. Today, we will discuss two articles that critique our societal concepts of sustainability and environmentalism. The articles that we will discuss are, “Roots of Sustainability” by Glenn M. Ricketts and “Is Sustainability Sustainable?” by Daniel Bonevac.[1]

Ricketts’ article is an historical perspective of how environmentalism and sustainability grew in American culture. Daniel Bonevac’s article is a philosophical attempt to define sustainability based on our society’s various definitions. Both articles critique the concept of sustainability from two very different approaches.

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[This post was written by Megan Rice and Angelina Peters and complements previous students’ analysis of the question What is Sustainability?]

This title of this post is not in reference to a toddler being told to go to bed for the hundredth time. Rather, we assert that the title should be the cry among many university and college students. When did our higher learning institutions become the 1984 versions of Big Brother? With the criticism and failure of No Child Left Behind or President Obama’s Race to the Top, why are our universities and colleges abandoning academics for activism?

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[This post was written by Sara Scott, Sarah Griswold, and Jamie Price, and complements previous students’ analysis of the question What is Sustainability?]

In covering the first three readings, our group decided to combine all three articles and brainstorm on what the general themes they share that pertain to sustainability.[1]

Many people think of sustainability as strictly an environmental issue. After reading the three articles, we came to the conclusion that sustainability is multi-faceted on a global level. Sustainability is not only limited to issues of the environment, but of society and economics as well. Our current working definition of sustainability is to leave resources for future generations with a minimal impact on the environment. According to Kates, et al., the Board on Sustainable Development’s goal of sustainability is to “provide energy, materials and information to feed, nurture, house, educate and employ the people in 2050 … and to reduce hunger, poverty … and preserve the basic life support systems of the planet.”[2]

All the authors in our readings discussed the common theme of “trade-offs.” When mentioning “trade-offs” in terms of sustainability, (more…)

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[This post was written by Megan Rice, Angelina Peters, and Dennis Dunn, and complements previous students’ analysis of the question What is Sustainability?]

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! A common mantra most people have heard before, but what does that mean and is that what sustainability is? The meaning of sustainability ranges from the formulated academic definition based on the Brundtland Commission report to an individual’s personal definition. The focus of this entry is not to dissect the many facets of what sustainability is but to discuss what it is not. The “three pillars” of sustainability are: environment (i.e, natural resources), economy (i.e., monetary value), and equity (i.e., social considerations). At a glance, some of the pillars are self-explanatory, once again, either using a personal or academic definition.

When focusing on what sustainability is not we will discuss measurability, openness to dialog, intergenerational needs, and “greenwashing.”

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[This post was written by Megan Foster, Grant Russ, and Tina Xiong, and complements previous students’ analysis of the question What is Sustainability?]

Among the various subjects embedded in the Brundtland Commission report concerning sustainable development, one of exceptional importance is the subject of what precisely should be developed. Those subjects with potential for development were discussed by both developed and developing countries and so can be stated as universally important. The development of essential human needs such as economic growth, equity of resources, equal opportunities, and education stands beside the sustainability of nature, resources, and communities. Social development, and more specifically social justice, can ensure development and sustainability of equity and equality for all persons. The goals which should correlate with these concepts include the elimination of poverty and an equal quality of life.

The challenge becomes one of not only properly implementing social justice but meeting social needs in general while still upholding values of environmental sustainability. (more…)

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[This post written by Chris White, Daniel Gray, Tony Smith]

The Coalition for a Livable Future‘s Regional Equity Atlas (REA) provides a wealth of information regarding the socio-economic conditions of Portland and the metro area. This tool is useful for research regarding many various aspects of the equity pillar of sustainability. One potentially useful aspect of this resource is the ability for small and large businesses to find new areas for investment and development. One example of a positive development is the Yellow Line expansion along Interstate Ave. in North Portland.

There have been significant instances where communities were not included in the planning stages of major development. The REA has made note of two major projects which have left the community feeling neglected. In the 1950s the construction of the Memorial Coliseum uprooted many members of the local community without proper compensation. Another example is the construction of I-5 which tore through the same community as the Memorial Coliseum had done a decade before.[1]

There is a significant difference between how proponents of these two projects approached the local community and how the MAX Yellow Line project was built. (more…)

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[This post written by Noah Sharpsteen, Teddy Messan, Nigel Peltier, John Stephenson]

This discussion focuses on the Coalition for a Livable Future’s Regional Equity Atlas (REA) and will address the strengths and weaknesses of the atlas’ ability to provide/represent useful data in regards to equity. [1] More specifically, we will argue that the type of representation in use by the REA (visual representation) allows for the specific learning and recognition of the trends being presented, but, ultimately, the lack of certain kinds of information to supplement these maps limits the atlas’ availability to make substantive connections and provide for causal reasoning in regard to the different situations exemplified by the specific maps given.

The REA uses maps to represent data relevant to equity considerations. We believe that this kind of visual representation allows for the following benefits: 1) it provides a holistic approach so connections internal to the specific map can be made; 2) fosters ‘quick and easy’ correlation of ‘trends’ or ‘conclusions’ which makes the identification of problems much easier; 3) and allows for pattern-development which leads to a greater sense of organization for the reader.[2] We feel that these benefits apply within the REA as well.

Unfortunately, the ‘trends’ or ‘conclusions’ that are the resultant benefits of the use of visual representation are communicated poorly within the REA as a whole. (more…)

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