Learning From Vancouver

<p>Scholar and Brookings Fellow Christopher B. Leinberger says Vancouver provides an accessible model for American cities as they look for examples of sustainable development done right.</p>
April 29, 2008, 12pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"An April 21 article in The Tyee by Canadian Murray Dobbin ended with this advice to his country about your relationship to the U.S.: "Better for both of us that we Canadians strengthen our own country. Let us enhance our communitarian approach, build on our social programs, reverse the decline in education spending, take the lead in fighting climate change, and revive our tradition of progressive international engagement and leadership. That way, if and when, in desperation, our neighbours look for a model to follow, there will still be one. Just next door."

I second that opinion. Over the past two years or so, Americans have been awakening to the fundamentally wrong approach we have pursued for the past generation and more regarding the environment, our health, the built environment and the impact of oil dependency on foreign policy. The unprecedented 80 per cent of the electorate who currently feel the country is "heading in the wrong direction" is just one sign of this questioning.

Having models of an alternative approach is crucial to get us back on track; seeing is believing. We Americans only have a few places, like Portland, Oregon, where we can learn about an alternative to how to build our metropolitan areas . . . and most Americans are tired of endlessly hearing about Portland. We need additional models. Europe is too alien for most Americans (remember that only 20 per cent of us have passports). Canada is so close and you have been exporting friendly images and personalities to us for years; who can't relate to Red Green?"

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Published on Friday, April 25, 2008 in The Tyee
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