Green Urban Innovation: Solarize Portland and the Power of Communities

I was in New York earlier this month to present at the Association of American Geographers big annual conference. As well as an excellent stroll along the High Line (thanks Gena!), I got to talk about Solarize Portland -- one of my favourite examples of how people can reshape their cities in unexpected ways. I've posted a slidecast below.

View another webinar from Alex Aylett
Solarize – as you can guess from the name – is a neighbourhood-scale solar energy program. I've written about it here before. It's an empowering example of what people are capable of when they work collectively in their communities.

What really hooked me about Solarize was that it applied the strength of community ties to an unconventional target: rolling out decentralized renewable energy and transforming the local solar market.

The presentation runs long, and I think you can tell I was a bit tired when I put the audio together. But it covers a lot of interesting ground. It starts with the impact and nuts and bolts of how the program worked. Then I get on to a bigger argument about what Solarize can teach us about the power of citizens to drive green urban innovation and experimentation.

That power is a critical, but often overlooked and misunderstood, part of what is going to allow make urban sustainability real. Municipal governments are already over-strained and under-ressourced. It's unrealistic to expect them to single handedly lead a transition to greener cities. Citizens are going to have a crucial part to play. But that part is going to look very different from what we've come to think of when we talk about “participation” or “engagement”.


1 Response to "Green Urban Innovation: Solarize Portland and the Power of Communities"

Blogger said... 24 January 2017 at 16:57

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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.