City of Dreams – Brazil

January 31, 2008

Brazilian urban planning guru, Jaime Lerner, has cracked the problem of getting a city to run well. His idea – to put people before cars – has vastly improved residents’ quality of life.

Lerner has revolutionised transport in his hometown of Curitiba, diverting traffic around the centre. Huge pedestrian areas and parks have replaced busy roads and congestion has been tackled with an efficient bus service. As Lerner explains; “If you want to make life better for people, make the cities better.”


Featured Presenter: Fiona Ma

January 30, 2008

Assembly Member Fiona Ma’s life seems the stuff of dreams: born to immigrant parents and now making history as the highest-ranking Asian-American woman in the state Legislature.

Ma has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, a master’s degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University and an MBA from Pepperdine Unversity. Her CPA career started in the tax department of Ernst & Whinney’s Manhattan office, followed by five years working for Ernst and Young in San Francisco. Next, Ma joined the tax practice at Ghiasi & Company, where she worked for 10 years, specializing in real estate, hospitality and high net worth individuals, after which a series of events led her into public office.

Ma’s ties to her roots remain strong, as she’s taken her local concerns to Sacramento—along with her skills as a CPA. California CPA talked with Ma (D-San Francisco) about her journey to the Capitol and Sacramento politics. …(read on)

Featured Presenter: Ken Yeang

January 30, 2008

(CNN) — CNN spoke to Ken Yeang, an architect and ecologist, and the principle of the UK practice of Llweleyn Davis Yeang about his work to combine high rise architecture and environmental awareness.


CNN: How does being an ecologist relate to being an architect?

Ken Yeang: The ecologist has a much more comprehensive and holistic view of the world. We’re looking at the natural environment as well as the human built environment and the connectivity between the two — how do the natural environment and the human-built environment interact and interface with each other. That means when we design a building we’re not looking at it as an art object by itself. We’re looking at its relationship with the natural environment and how the two interface.

CNN: What’s your inspiration behind bringing ecology and architecture together?

KY: Biology I suppose. In my heart I believe that biology is the beginning and the end of everything. It’s the biggest source of ideas, the biggest source of invention. Nobody can invent better than nature and so if you like nature is my biggest source of inspiration.

CNN: What exactly is eco-design? How are the building designed with these principles different from regular buildings?

KY: Eco-design is designing in such a way that the human built environment or our design system integrates benignly and seamlessly with the natural environment. We have to look at it not just as designing a building as an independent object in the city or in the site where it’s located. We have to look at it in the context of the characteristics of the site in which it’s located, the ecological features and we have to integrate with it physically, systemically and temporally.

Physical integration means integrating with the physical characteristics of the place: Its topography, its ground water, its hydrology, its vegetation and the different species on the particular site. Systemic integration is integrating with the processes that take place in nature with our human built environment: The use of water, the use of energy, the use of waste and sewers and so forth. Both the human and the natural must blend together, so there will be no pollution and no waste. Temporal integration, means integrating the rate of our use of the resources in the earth and its material, and the rate of replenishment. … (read entire interview at

Featured Presenter: Whitney Dotson

January 29, 2008

Rick Bacigalupi (huge thanks) went for a walk with Whitney Dotson to discuss his work and the upcoming Summit.

Whitney Dotson is an environmentalist and activist. He lives in Richmond, California and is a member of the Board of Directors of Citizens for East Shore Parks. Dotson has worked to restore Breuner Marsh and to protect Parchester Village in Richmond.

Parchester Village was developed after World War II for African Americans who moved to Richmond to work in the shipyards and could not buy houses elsewhere. It was built on the donated land of founder Fred Parr, a white developer. Local residents say that it is the first African American homeowners’ community in the Bay Area. About 1,000 people live in 400 single-family, one-story homes on this small tract sandwiched between two railroad tracks. It has remained mostly black since it was built, though some Latino families have moved in recently.

Whitney Dotson’s father, the late Reverend Richard Daniel Dotson, was one of the early settlers in Parchester in 1950 and became a community leader, organizing to preserve Breuner Marsh and helping to get adjacent Point Pinole turned over to the East Bay Regional Park District. Mr. Dotson will present on Day 2 ( of Ecocity’s main conference sessions.


Whitney Dotson was 5 years old when he moved into the brand-new house his father bought on Jenkins Way in Parchester Village. It was the early 1950s, and the planned 420-house development was Richmond’s first subdivision in which an African American… (read article at

Featured Presenter: Jared Blumenfeld

January 29, 2008

Jared Blumenfeld is Director at Department of the Environment, City and County of San Francisco. Previously he served as Director, Global Habitat Protection at IFAW, Director, Earth Summit Watch at Natural Resources Defense Council and Editor, International Environmental Law at Cambridge University. Jared has a degree from the University of California, Berkeley – School of Law and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. SF Environment’s mission is to improve, enhance, and preserve the environment, and to promote San Francisco’s long-term wellbeing by developing innovative, practical and wide-ranging environmental programs in recycling, toxics reduction, environmental justice, energy efficiency, commute alternatives, and urban forest.

Featured Presenter: Jaime Lerner

January 28, 2008

via treehugger… 


Brazilian site Planeta Sustentavel (Sustainable planet) has published an interview with architect Jaime Lerner, an environmental star that has turned the city of Curitiba into one of the greenest cities in the world.

With a poetical tone, Lerner takes on the meaning of sustainability, his obsession with educating children on ecological issues, and what he calls ‘urban accupunture’.

Jump to the extended to read what this visionary that is now aiming to transform the city of Luanda (in Angola) has to say (Picture: Lerner at a rapid bus station in Curitiba).

Via Planeta Sustentavel
curitiba-front-bus.jpg“A sustainable city is the one that integrates housing, work and leisure, while preserving its history and investing in public transportation.” With this idea in mind, Jaime Lerner has turned Curitiba, capital of the Parana State in Brazil, into one of the greenest cities in the world.

Some of his ideas were to educate children on garbage separation in order for them to educate their parents, to exchange food for recovered garbage in favelas (poor settlements) in order to encourage trash separation, and to put sheep in parks for them to take care of grass and attract children.

Now on a project to revitalize the marine coast, solve the garbage management issues and transform the road system in Luanda, Angola; Lerner is constantly consulted by governments from cities around the world on environmental issues.In these short interviews with Planeta Sustentavel where he gives short ideas of his vision, you can feel Lerner’s ideology about small solutions that solve big problems.

If you feel like practicing your Portuguese, here are the interviews in video. Translation of the phrases are below each.

“Curitiba has proved that it is possible, that [becoming sustainable] can happen, and that simple solutions are possible.” Read the rest of this entry »

Global Public Media – Ecological City Design

January 28, 2008

Richard Register discusses the relation of city structure to energy consumption and biodiversity with David Room of Global Public Media.

To stream video (.ram) click here.

To download audio (.mp3) click here.