May 14 – Nick

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.

The beautiful city of Adelaide

The beautiful city of Adelaide. The city center is surrounded on all sides by parks and green spaces which makes for a very interesting, beneficial urban layout.

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.

An example of licensed street art that increases the creative flair of the city.

An example of licensed street art that increases the creative flair and individuality of the city.

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.


The City Council members talking to us in class and open for questions as well as discussions. This is a form of public education that is critical in making positive impacts.

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.

We split into four separate groups and individual members took us around the city pointing out some of the current issues.

We split into four separate groups and individual members took us around the city pointing out some of the current issues as well as aspirations for beneficial change.

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.

An example of the ample amount of green space that the city provides. This green space has various benefits from the decrease of runoff pollution to relieving stress of the many citizens located in Adelaide.

An example of the ample amount of green space that the city provides. This green space has various benefits from the decrease of runoff pollution to relieving stress of the many citizens located in Adelaide.

Central Market:

The Central Market of Adelaide houses multiple varieties of food and produce.

The Central Market of Adelaide houses multiple varieties of food and produce and encourages the stimulation of local economies through the sale of these foods.

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.

A small portion of shops set up inside the Central Market facility.

A small portion of shops set up inside the Central Market facility. Many of these shops are of fairly permanent residence at the market and provide fresh foods to the citizens of Adelaide in a healthy, yet affordable, manner.

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.

The museum has a vast array and variety of exhibits from indigenous history to giant squid.

The museum has a vast array and variety of exhibits from indigenous history to giant squid and helps educate the public on the history of the land.


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.

Risks in the agricultural system

Risks in the agricultural system and how multiple facets of the agricultural industry (environmental, social, economical) can be affected by climate change.

Associated Links:

“Adelaide Green City”. South Australia. Online, retrieved May 5th, 2013 from:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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: 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.

Pictures: (Graphic) (Photo)


5 thoughts on “May 14 – Nick

  1. Mary Beth Kramer

    Most interesting stat for me: the city recycles 85% of their waste! Amazing! What is for dinner??

  2. Mary Beth Kramer

    Terrific comments and pictures!

  3. paranjp1

    This day was a fantastic day to start off our trip for me personally! As a dietetics major I absolutely love going to farmers markets to talk to people where the food comes from and I especially love to taste the food. So from the moment I stepped into the market I got a rush of a little kid in a toy store!

    The farmers market is the epitome of the strong sustainability model. The strong sustainability model is based on the idea that the environment should be given the most importance and within the environment is the social aspect, and then the economic aspect has the least importance. That is because without the environment society can not exist. Without societal well being there is no economy. So the farmers market depicts this is many ways because the food is organic and or local so there are no non organic pesticides or fertilizers added to it. This reduces greenhouse gases in the environment. The fact that it is local reduces the carbon and water footprint because the food does not have to be shipped from afar. In addition the animals are not injected with hormones which allows for healthier animals. In terms of the social aspects the farmers markets provides a place where the community can gather. Also they are able to talk to the people providing them food which allows for a better understanding and appreciation for food. In this farmers market majority of the food was fruits and vegetable. There were no processed or greasy foods. This allows for fewer chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Finally they are economical because the food is cheaper and there is no middle man, the food goes directly to the farmer.

    Yet the most exciting part to me was the quality and flavor of the food. In my opinion it exceeded most food that I can get in the us, besides my moms cooking! As an avid food lover this experience was a real treat. I ate a Moroccan chicken sandwich which had so much flavor and loads of vegetables. I encourage everyone to make their way to a local farmers market!

  4. paulsturr

    The Adelaide City Council was a unique chance to talk about sustainability in the sense of city design. When we split up in groups to explore the city, I talked to the main guy on the city council in sustainable city design. He taught our group a lot of things about green designs. We saw green roof tops that promote CO2 absorption and help insulate buildings. He explained to us how the narrow side walks and the lack of shop signs detract from sustainable practices. The streets in Adelaide also don’t have very many medians. By having more medians with grass or plants, it can reduce run off and increase water reabsorption. All these new ideas broaden my thinking about sustainability!

  5. leoornelas23

    The Adelaide City Council works very close with their community to promote sustainability and ensure that their residents are content. This ensures that the residents of this city take pride and joy in being sustainable in economical, environmental and social aspects. It takes a lot of work and research to introduce some of the great projects the city has created to be sustainable. These projects would not be possible with out the support and trust of their community.

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