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Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously: Economic Development, the Environment, and Quality of Life in American Cities (American and Comparative Environmental Policy) [Paperback]

by Kent E. Portney
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 3, 2003 0262661322 978-0262661324

Today at least twenty-five major U.S. cities have pursued some form of sustainability initiative. Although many case studies and "how-to" manuals have been published, there has been little systematic comparison of these cities' programs and initiatives. In this book Kent Portney lays the theoretical groundwork for research on what works and what does not, and why.Distinguishing cities on the basis of population characteristics and region for his analysis, Portney shows how cities use the broad rubric of sustainability to achieve particular political ends. Cities that take sustainability seriously, such as Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle, use broad definitions that go well beyond concern for the physical environment or creating jobs. They pursue sustainability at many levels and integrate concern for economic development, the environment, and quality of life across all activities of city government. Cities that take sustainability less seriously, such as Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando, confine it to such issues as solid waste disposal, brownfields, redevelopment, and neighborhood beautification. Still other cities, such as New Haven, Brownsville, and Milwaukee, do considerably less to work toward sustainability.Portney begins by reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of sustainable development and sustainable communities. The comparisons that follow provide a foundation for assessing the range of what is possible and desirable for sustainability initiatives. In the book's conclusion, Portney assesses the extent to which cities can use the pursuit of sustainability either to foster change in public values or merely to reinforce values that are already reflected in systems of governance.

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Editorial Reviews


"The focus on 'communities' in this book is perhaps an important guide to the future." Sylvia Karlsson Environment

"Kent Portney has taken the movement for sustainable development a big step forward with his fresh and rigorous examination of American cities and their efforts to become better, more livable places. If sustainability is the buzz word that launched a thousand academic conferences, then Portney's book is sure to help us better navigate these choppy waters, providing us with a clearer, deeper understanding of the destination, as well as how to get there."--William Shutkin, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT

"In this ground-breaking study, Kent Portney shows that cities all across the country have joined the battle to solve environmental problems. Finally, here is a book that takes the environmental-urban connection seriously. A work like this is truly overdue."--Dennis R. Judd, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago

About the Author

Kent E. Portney is Professor of Political Science at Tufts University. He is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of a number of books, including The Rebirth of Urban Democracy and Acting Civically: From Local Neighborhoods to Higher Education.

Product Details

  • Series: American and Comparative Environmental Policy
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (January 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262661322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262661324
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars progresses the discussion September 25, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This text certainly helps those that want to further develop their understanding of sustainability from a number of perspectives. It also provides useful information on different approaches being taken to measuring and reporting on sustainability.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book is awesome May 30, 2012
By Cnote
I read this book for a class and after the first chapter I was hooked, it's written very well and is INTERESTING(which we all know is very rare with textbooks!). The book is extremely realistic and objective; it does not try to convince you to support sustainability or buy into any liberal agenda. It describes the reasoning behind why some cities are pursuing sustainability and literally, how serious these cities appear to be about their pursuits. I read this book for a public administration class but this would be an awesome book for anyone interested in urban planning, environmental policy or social equity. Love this book, highly recommend.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth the read December 12, 2006
Great book. Lots of important data and ideas backed by solid research.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously:..... February 28, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was purchased for P. Fan's UP 801 (Urban Planning)class being taught spring semester, 2012 at Michigan State University, School of Planning, Design, and Construction.
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