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Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously

Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously
Kent E. Portney
The MIT Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 300 p., $25.95

Political scientist Kent Portney explores the subject of sustainability, that is, the ability of society to maintain an enduring balance between mankind and nature, from many perspectives in Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously, a book that focuses on comparisons of several cities’ programs and initiatives. In a review of different types of political units that might undertake and implement policies to promote sustainability, he explains why the city is the most appropriate and more effective organization in integrating environmental, economic and social concerns into workable strategies.

In Portney’s review of the efforts of several cities, he calls attention to the need to identify how serious a specific city is in its individual efforts to achieve greater sustainability. Among the guidelines is the broad range of issues that cities address; the larger the number of true concerns, he contends, the greater a city’s intent in developing initiatives and programs. He points out that the political climate of a city may direct the extent to which a community will expend its efforts in attaining what is perceived as sustainability. The pursuit of sustainability may also become the means by which those with a personal agenda may achieve their political goals.

Portney’s analyses of various alternatives on the subject are thought provoking. His book is well documented, with various field studies and an index, making it a particularly valuable reference for all those concerned with city planning.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden