Book Review: GreenTOpia: Towards a Sustainable Toronto

"PM to Cities: Drop Dead"- that is the headline in the print version of the Toronto Star today, as the Canadian Prime Minister says that the cities are not his problem and can look to the provinces instead. (while he rolls in surpluses and cuts taxes). Meanwhile the roads are cracking up, transit fares are rising, the well-meaning mayor is so cash-poor that he cannot do anything but whine for pennies and many begin to wonder if there is any future in this city.

Then along comes GreenTOpia: Towards a Sustainable Toronto, edited by Alana Wilcox, Chritina Palassio and the wonderfully named Jonny Dovercourt. It is a collection of articles and visions including Mark Fram on "planning walking zoning greening: Catherine Nasmith on "Buildings are not Garbage" (previously seen on TreeHugger here) and noting that "the average Victorian building has enough embodied energy to drive a vehicle around the world five times."

It is chock full of goodies like Jacob Allderdice's paean to the bicycle, where we learn that Ivan Illich wrote: "Free people must travel the road to produce productive social relationships at the speed of a bicycle." Or Margie Zeidler (TreeHugger here) on "The new workplace commons." Well known Toronto writers like Amy Lavender discuss "acts of salvage" and John Lorinc explains "big box solar."

A little gem is Colin Ripley and gang's "Eat the City to save the planet" where they calculate that rooftops and front yards have enough area to feed half the city.

We are in tough times, surrounded by private and federal money in a city crumbling around us, yet we learn from GreenTOpia that there are people who have a vision for a green, successful city. People who are willing to put the time and energy into the job of making Toronto a better place. People who will make certain that Stephen Harper can count his votes from urban Canada on his fingers and toes. People that made ::GreenTOpia. Suddenly Toronto looks like a much better place. I hope other cities are so lucky.

There is a launch party on Sunday 11 Nov with many of the authors and two panel discussions, at the Gladstone.

Tags: Books | Canada | Toronto

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