Andrea Batista Schlesinger
Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan: “Use our cities more effectively”
Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan sees her city of Gainesville, Florida, as one that needs to build up, not out. And with Florida's skyrocketing population growth -- the state's population is projected to grow from the current 18 million to 36 million by 2060 -- Florida will soon have to listen to Mayor Hanrahan and grow in more sustainable ways.
"The only hope for doing it [growing sustainably] in any sort of way that doesn't decimate the natural environment is to use our cities more effectively and to build more like a Boston or a Washington or a New York than an Orlando, quite frankly."
She points out that over 730 mayors have signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, showing that cities are on the frontline of climate change in spite of the federal government's refusal to act.
But sustainable cities aren't just good for the environment, says Hanrahan, they're good for the the people that live there. Quality public schools, comprehensive public transportation, and affordable housing options are vital to urban growth. However, as we build sustainable cities, we need to make them attractive not just environmentally but attractive culturally as well.
"I think the role of the city is to make the city such a wonderful place to live with access to wonderful restaurants and parks and sensible transportation alternatives and sublime arts experiences and so on that people really want to be in the city."
If you build it, they will come.