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As I look ahead to joining VERGE at Greenbuild in San Francisco November 12-13, and begin to get my head around a brief One Great Idea presentation patterned on the ways my colleagues and I believe cities are vital to the future of sustainability, I have something to admit: Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies. Ever. And its 1982-era vision of Los Angeles 2019 — a dark, rainy, violent, morally rudderless, cultural mash-up — is not well-suited to imagining and nurturing the sustainable city of the future that I truly think possible.
But maybe that’s the challenge we all face. We know a sustainable economy will demand enormous personal and institutional change, perhaps especially related to how and what we consume, but knowing that and shifting the very structures and institutions that shape our world are two different things. We have to overcome the inertia.
If we look carefully, we find cities revealing early glimpses of how they might evolve to be sustainable. If we can understand today’s tentative, experimental steps, we might determine how we can support further transformation, speeding change in leading metropolises and encouraging replication elsewhere. Blade Runner be damned — let’s do this!