Michele Beasley

Michele Beasley

Green Cities, Healthy Communities with Sadhu Johnston

Greenbelt Alliance, in partnership with the Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter and Island Press Sustainability Knowledge Network, invites you to attend Green Cities, Healthy Communities, the latest Healthy Communities Forum.

Come listen to our exciting guest speaker Sadhu Johnston, Deputy City Manager for Vancouver in Canada and co-author of The Guide to Greening Cities (Island Press), discuss how Vancouver and other cities have changed how they build and operate to become greener and healthier places to live. We will explore how economic, social, and environmental issues intersect with the health of our cities.

What: Green Cities, Healthy Communities with Sadhu Johnston
When: Thursday, October 17, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Where: Roosevelt Community Center and Library – Classrooms 1 & 2, 901 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
Notes: This event is free and open to the public; refreshments will be provided

Click here to RSVP

Since 1990, the population of downtown Vancouver has grown by over 75%, yet the amount of cars that enter downtown on a daily basis has decreased by 25%. Vancouver now has the lowest carbon emissions in North America. What lessons can San Jose learn from this? Join the conversation!

Before our event, Sadhu took the time to answer a few questions:

Greenbelt Alliance: What is one asset a city already has that is critical to its future success and sustainability?

Sadhu Johnston: Roads—for many years, cities have paved and maintained our roads. In many cities, road surfaces are 25% of the land use, yet we haven’t really changed how we use our roads. Cities like Vancouver are adding separated bike lanes, cities like Chicago are adding permeable pavement to better manage stormwater, and others like New York are turning road space into plazas. Each of these activities is transforming how we relate to the space in front of our homes and businesses while also changing how we get around and how we relate to each other.

GA: Can you tease us with one success story of how to turn a green city agenda item into reality?

SJ: Vancouver has managed to reduce the number of cars entering downtown by 25% despite a 75% increase in the number of people living or working downtown. One result of this shift away from cars is a significant increase in vacancies in downtown parking garages. Some of these garages are owned by the city, so we’re trying to find ways to utilize these built spaces. Last year, the city leased the top two floors of one of our parking garages to a Vancouver-based clean tech company. They built and are now operating one of the world’s first true vertical farms, where they produce over 150,000 lbs of produce in less than 4,000 square feet. Not only are they offering zero food-mile healthy food to Vancouverites, they are also proving well paid jobs to over 20 people.

GA: What advice would you give a large city that is more suburban in nature and is trying to become dense and walkable?

SJ: Cities across North America are exploring ways to transform to be healthier and greener communities. Cities as diverse as Houston and Memphis are finding ways that they can increase the quality of life for their residents by utilizing green urban solutions, but there are many different ways to do this. But, you don’t need to do it all at once. Pursuing transit-oriented development, for instance, starts to create complete communities that others will want to replicate when they see how attractive it really is.

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