I started working at Island Press in 2004, and one of the first books that caught my attention was Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities by Timothy Beatley. I was so pleasantly surprised to find Freiburg, Germany featured prominently in the book; I had a fantastic study abroad experience in Freiburg while in college, and still hold the city very dear to my heart. Soon I realized that some of the things that made my time there so enjoyable are the very things that make this city a preeminent example of livability and sustainability. Freiburg embodies all the elements of a great, livable city: it has a reliable and extensive transit system, a charming and vibrant city center, a mix of historic preservation and modern, progressive technology. I had always considered Freiburg a “perfect” city to live in, and reading this book made it clear to me that there are fundamental planning and design features and policies that contribute to this livability. Not only that, I learned that this way of life doesn’t have to be a European experience; these elements can be incorporated into American cities – and they are more and more as the movement for healthy, walkable, lively urban areas takes hold.
Tim Beatley has just written a follow-up volume: Green Cities of Europe: Global Lessons on Green Urbanism. From the book: “It is uncommon to witness a city so totally and comprehensively planned for sustainability…Integrated transportation, land use, and open space planning have all been thoughtfully merged to enhance energy conservation, air and water quality, economic development, and social prosperity. Urban and environmental planners around the world will appreciate the work that Freiburg has undertaken, as it reflects that sustainable urban environments are not marginal, but mainstream.” I am hopeful that as we aspire to model our cities after a city like Freiburg, we’ll all live a little healthier and happier.
Chapter 3 from Green Cities of Europe: Global Lessons on Green Urbanism is below.