Day 4 Tuesday, May 14:
We are slowly becoming acclimated with the time-zone changes and jet-lag as our first true full day in Adelaide, as well as Australia itself, is complete. With a few minor changes to our schedule (Bureau of Meteorology being pushed back a day being the largest), we took part in activities and experiences that greatly furthered our knowledge in relation to sustainability, where the council wants to take the city, as well as Adelaide as a whole.
Adelaide, now the capital of South Australia, was established in 1836 by Colonel William Light who envisioned building a city with only a one square mile center that accompanied vast amounts of wide open space and surrounded entirely by national parks. To this day that vision is still a near reality. According to a 2011 consensus, Adelaide has a current population around 1.25 million people and growing. Listed as “Australia’s most livable city”, it boasts as being one of the most lively and lovable places in all of Australia. From cuisine and dining to recreation and entertainment Adelaide has it all.
Not only is Adelaide livable, it is also one of the “greenest” and most environmentally sustainable cities on the continent. With monumental achievements such as 85% of waste being recycled and the manufacture of Tindo, the world’s first solar powered bus, the city is becoming more sustainable on a daily basis. Adelaide also acts as a strong central point to the creation of sound environmental policy. With such a green-minded city, the implementation of this necessary policy usually passes. Our second day in Adelaide we examined what some of the technologies and strategies the city council was currently implementing to help create a more sustainable environment, how the effects of climate change can change the dynamics of various environmental, social and economic systems from an urban standpoint, and quickly look at how this society looks at food and consumption.
Our first visit was from a few members of the Adelaide City Council at 9:30 am at the YHA (the youth hostel in which we are staying). The four members were of varying race, gender, age, profession and background, and supplied us with a wealth of knowledge in terms of sustainability and urban planning (which I will go into more detail later). We were then assigned the task to split up into small teams and collect the necessary ingredients in order to make our specialized dishes for the sustainability pot-luck dinner on May 15th. In preparation for a long day on May 15th, we were given the rest of the day off and many of us chose to go out to lunch and then check out the local museum.
Adelaide City Council:
This was the major event of the day and was extremely enlightening. The council members came to us in order to teach us about what they are planning to do within the city of Adelaide in order to make it even more livable, energetic and sought after than it already is. The bulk of the plan included making Adelaide a “city of great places.” This means instead of working from a top-down perspective to urban planning, they would instead work from a bottom-up. A bottom-up approach would allow them to reach out to the community and hear their voice. They would hear from people as to what they believed made a place special, and in doing so would increase the personal pride and responsibility the citizens of Adelaide have for their city as well as heritage developmental projects. The people and atmosphere are what make places great and the strong incorporation into the council’s plan, in terms of sustainability, is crucial. People are strongly linked to the social as well as the economical aspects associated with the concept of sustainability and with their help an overall beneficial city is much more obtainable and realistic.
One example, that shows the council’s true interest in the public, is the “Picture Adelaide” project they placed upon the community. This initiative included 4,000 citizens who sent in photos of places all around Adelaide that they felt were special. These photos were then spatially mapped to allow the council to better analyze which areas of the city they should focus on. They even had famous Danish urban designer Jan Gehl assess the city and give comments on how the city could become more pedestrian friendly and less focused on vehicle (especially car) traffic. This method sheds a very positive and promising light on the city and its council as it covers all areas of sustainability: environmental, social and economical. I think the council is doing an outstanding job that should be viewed by other communities as well.
Once the council collects all of the necessary hard data that they need, they know they will need to acquire even more soft data. Soft data, in this context, refers to the public opinion on what they think makes a place interesting, which is highly related to specific individuals. In order to organize and quantify various citizen’s opinions, they are using a Placebook. The Placebook is a graphical representation of the cities goals in relation to the opinions that the citizens provided. These goals include sustainability, great places, prosperity, livability, creativity and accessibility. These pie-charts will then be posted for the general public to view.
These are just some of the early steps being incorporated by the city council as they move forward to better an already outstanding place. In terms of sustainability, these steps are vital. They impact each aspect of the strong sustainability model: environmental, social, and economic. Finding what the people truly are interested in will help ensure the city to stay alive, as well as being able to keep young people that bring vital energy to a city (as well as help in prosperity). The council wanted to introduce many different types of local businesses in order to keep things interesting as well. Environmentally, the council wants to focus on issues closely associated with water availability and quality as well as decreasing carbon emissions. Currently the city council has set a target goal for a decrease in carbon emissions by 60% by 2012 (from its own operations) as well as carbon neutral by 2020. One of the major ways they plan to achieve this goal is with the use of solar energy. With the distribution of rebates to citizens who chose to utilize solar systems as well as the production of the Tindo, the very first solar energy powered bus, their goal is becoming an actuality. For the betterment of water quality and availability, the council plans to decrease the amount of urban storm water runoff as well as having the ability to capture water “on-site”. Water quality and availability is a major issue across all of Australia. If Adelaide become less reliant on the Murray-Darling River, as it has in the past, they will be in a much better position.
The Central Market activity emphasizes the importance of sustainable food practice. We were encouraged to find the most sustainably produced food. This can range from purchasing the most locally produced food (less emissions from travel, less preservatives, etc.) to organic (also less preservatives). This was a very interesting experience as there are very few of these in America. I am surprised because there are so many positives to local food markets. These markets promote a sense of community, cooperation and social interaction while still providing some of the freshest locally grown foods.
South Australian Museum:
The museum boasts an impressive array of exhibits that include the history of Australia’s indigenous inhabitants, the wildlife and minerals found in Australia as well as across the globe, and more. The museum was found on the University of Adelaide’s campus and was surprisingly large. A very informative experience that will help put many of our future endeavors in perspective as well as learn and reflect upon the past.
Overall, the day was very beneficial and provided a great transition into Australia as well as to have us beginning to look at the world around us from a more sustainable viewpoint as we acquire the skills and ability to do so. This education will continue to grow stronger as we progress further along on this experience. We now have a base set of knowledge. Sustainability is not a static term, as it can be applied to many different contexts and situations and with each will slightly change in definition. We also know that sustainability as a whole is much more complex than much of us previously believed. An example of this is shown in the graphic below depicting an agricultural industry and how a vast array of areas are impacted by worldly issues. I am excited to continue to gain more valuable knowledge on sustainability on our travels and to see what the future has in store for us.
“Adelaide Green City”. South Australia. Online, retrieved May 5th, 2013 from:http://us.southaustralia.com/regions/adelaide-green-city.aspx
A site that gives a great overview of Adelaide as a whole and how it has become one of the greenest and most livable cities in all of Australia.
“Development Plan”. Adelaide City Council. Online, retrieved May 15th, 2013 from: http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/development/development-plan-amendments/.
This link will send you to the Adelaide City Council’s homepage where you can find useful information regarding the council’s goals, accomplishments, and much more
“Energy”. Adelaide City Council. Online, retrieved May 5th, 2013 from: http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/environment/energy/
Another link to the Adelaide City Council website that explains some goals in terms of using alternative energy sources and reducing carbon emissions.
“Picture Adelaide”. Adelaide City Council. Online, retrieved May 15th, 2013 from: http://pictureadelaide.com.au/.
Will provide you with more information regarding the Picture Adelaide Initiative that was implemented by the city council.
“Traders”. Adelaide Central Market. Online, retrieved May 15th, 2013 from: http://www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au/.
This site will tell you more specific information about the Central Market including the traders located there, as well as healthy recipes to try on your own.
“Water”. Adelaide City Council. Online, retrieved May 15th, 2013 from: http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/environment/water/.
An ever important issue throughout all of Australia is water quality and availability. The City Council of Adelaide does not take the matter lightly and this link will provide you with some interesting info on how they are tackling the problem.
“What’s on at South Australian Museum”. Government of South Australia. Online, retrieved May 15th, 2013 from:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/whatson.
This link will give some interesting facts about what can be found at the South Australian Museum as well as special events an exhibitions that are taking place.
“World Renowned Urban Planner Jan Gehl Suggests how Adelaide can be Pedestrian Friendly”. Couriermail. Online, retrieved may 15th, 2013 from: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/ national/world-renowned-urban-planner-shows-how-adelaide-can-be-pedestrian-friendly/story-fndo1z0b-1226480573468
This site gives some illustration to a man that greatly influenced the urban layout and planning of Adelaide as a whole: Jan Gehl. His accomplishments are grand.