Socialist Solutions: Sustainable Livable Cities

Many of the techniques that make communities more attractive and affordable places to live also make them healthier places. Streets that are safe and comfortable for walkers and bikers encourage people to get more exercise as part of their daily routines. Having transportation options helps reduce traffic and air pollution ; and preserving green space helps protect water quality while making communities more attractive. Smart growth strategies help ensure communities develop in ways that keep our children and families healthy, with clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and safe places to exercise outside.

Communities that provide transportation options and services within closer reach have driving rates  one third lower than typical American neighborhoods, which means less smog and other air pollution. Children are especially susceptible to respiratory problems like asthma, which can be worsened by air pollution. With over nine million children in the U.S. suffering from asthma and millions more Americans who die each year due to high levels of air pollution, designing communities in ways that reduce traffic and encourage healthy options like walking and bicycling are crucial.

Smart growth strategies help protect drinking water. Many communities around the country are protecting their water supplies by directing growth away from areas near drinking water sources or by preserving undeveloped land around those sources to protect them from pollution. The preserved land not only protects water quality, it also gives people valued places to play, relax, and connect with nature.

Communities that provide transportation options and services within closer reach have driving rates that are about one-third lower than typical American neighborhoods, which means less smog and other air pollution. Children are especially susceptible to respiratory problems like asthma, which can be worsened by air pollution. With over nine million children in the U.S. suffering from asthma and millions more Americans who die each year due to high levels of air pollution, designing communities in ways that reduce traffic and encourage healthy options like walking and bicycling are crucial.

Smart growth strategies help protect drinking water. Many communities around the country are protecting their water supplies by directing growth away from areas near drinking water sources or by preserving undeveloped land around those sources to protect them from pollution. The preserved land not only protects water quality, it also gives people valued places to play, relax, and connect with nature.

The key to understanding Milwaukee’s Socialists is the idea of public enterprise. They didn’t just manage, and they didn’t just enforce laws and regulations. They pushed a program of public necessities that had a tangible impact on the average citizen’s quality of life: public parks, public libraries, public schools, public health, public works (including sewers), public port facilities, public housing, public vocational education and even public natatoria.

Underlying their notion of public enterprise was an abiding faith – curiously antique by today’s standards – in the goodness of government, especially local government. The Socialists believed that government was the locus of our common wealth – the resources that belong to all of us and each of us – and they worked to build a community of interest around a deeply shared belief in the common good.

Milwaukee would beat out other towns in City Competitions and was the only US City not to default during the Great Depression.

Sustainable development requires major transformations in the way people make their living. Moving the world onto a sustainable development trajectory must not shut off the route out of poverty that billions of the world’s citizens need. And that route for most people is finding and keeping a job that is sufficiently productive to yield a decent income. There cannot be a sustainable development path that does not address poverty.

Moving onto a sustainable development path will require mass engagement by businesses, working women and men, community representatives, academia as well as political leaders. Engagement has to start now and are to be applauded for the initiative of the Open Working Group to engage systematically with non-governmental organizations.

Full and productive employment and decent work for all is vital to poverty alleviation and to cohesive and thus sustainable societies. Managed well, transitions to environmentally and socially sustainable economies can become a driver of job creation, job upgrading, social justice and poverty eradication

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