USP 514 Term Paper

USP 514 – Sustainable Development

Term Paper

  1. Summarize what you learned from each and every session in this course. You are required to refer to each session separately and individually with the name of the session on top of each part of your answer.


Session 1 “Introduction”

There was a lot of metacommentary in this session. We talked about how to talk about the topics. We learned for the first time that the professor preferred students to interject and interrupt, rather than using tools like “raise hands” on zoom. This made me think about which student groups in the class are privileged by this policy and which are marginalized. I had previously taken a class on the topic of the way that professors set expectations in classes which typically favor extroverts and make things harder for introverts. This seemed like a good example of that.

We also learned that the professor would be requiring everyone to attend class synchronously without recordings to refer back to. At this point the professor indicated that during the spring semester, nearly all the black students had dropped as a result of these and other policies in this class. This comment was what inspired me to reach out to CFA (California Faculty Association), SFSU RRS (Race and Resistance Studies Department), and other organizations in order to set up a service-learning internship next year. I will be researching the topic of how choices by professors in different departments have led to different outcomes for the success of students in marginalized populations during the covid pandemic.

We also learned about one another’s expectations for a safe classroom such as “speaking from I,” allowing people to articulate their point before reacting, and as one student put it, “appreciating one another’s valid subjective opinions even when they’re different.” We finished the first day of this session with an open discussion where the professor asked everyone to explain what they think sustainable development is, and then the professor explained that none of us know what sustainable development is. This is when I learned that the tone of the class would be deeply ideological, with all references to the personal beliefs of the professor portrayed as absolute facts from a universal and objective perspective, rather than within the broader dialectical context of the many valid alternatives to each conclusion offered. Given the context of the previous comment about institutionally racist policies in the class, and the disregard for ameliorating the outcome of “all black students dropping,” plus the fact that this comment came just after a discussion about respecting people’s subjective experience, I almost dropped the class at this point because I find it difficult to have patience when claims are presented this way. It did lead to many tense moments later on, but I’m glad I stuck around because we ended up learning many interesting things as we will see on future pages.

This session was split into two days. On the second day, we discussed the top challenges and “to-dos” within this field and around the world. The mention of reducing consumption motivated me to think more deeply about previous research I had done on de-growth and sent me into a podcast spiral where I learned a lot more about this idea and later presented these findings in class. We also discussed the way social justice is fundamental to the implementation of the solutions to these challenges. I think this was the first time I had reflected on the implementation of infrastructure policy as a means for ameliorating disparate impact. This would become a major theme of the class later on.

We also discussed the definition and foals of development and sustainable development. We learned for the first time several foundational concepts that we would be using in this class. First, that sustainable development considers the externalities of the development process and tries to internalize them or minimize them. This motivated me to reflect on past environmental justice classes I’ve taken and notice that regeneratively was absent from the discourse in this class. The concept of sustainability in this class seemed to lack the idea of doing more than just “being possible to sustain” and going beyond that to actually regenerate what has been lost in order to ameliorate disparate impact as an externality of past unsustainability. I learned and noted this limitation of the sustainable development concept as presented.


Session 2 “Challenges in Cities Around the World”

We started by reading about the ten most important issues facing cities according to their mayors. The most significant thing I learned that BRT was widely seen as a good option in place of higher volume and higher sex-appeal modes of transportation like light rail. This was in conflict with what I learned in the Urban Planning classes I had taken at Portland State University where I had learned that affluent American communities generally refuse to adopt bus systems because they view them as an option for poor people. Learning about this different perspective on BRT opened my eyes to the possibilities of BRT which we would learn more about later on.

We also read about five big challenges facing cities around the world. Three of these in particular struck me as highly salient as I watched my cohort continue to lose its diversity; the intersection of environmental threats like pandemics with technology and inequality. One example given in the reading was education and the lack of internet infrastructure in marginalized communities. This motivated me to think more deeply about what was happening to my missing BIPOC classmates.

I really enjoyed reading the five toughest challenges facing cities. In particular the piece about the extreme need for agriculture innovation motivated me to think more deeply about xericulture and desertification, the democratization of food production, and the tipping point we are rapidly approaching when our messy system will suddenly become a totally untenable system. I wrote several essays exploring these issues in greater depth and learned a lot from the rabbit trail this reading sent me on.


Session 3 “Urban Design Principles”

One of the first things we learned from the readings in this session was that urban design should start by engaging the community to learn what they actually need and want. It’s easy to find examples where this has not happened, and gentrification is basically the epitome of not doing this. Instead of displacing, demolishing, and otherwise gentrifying communities, we learned that we should start by reaching out to the people who actually live in communities to close knowledge gaps and learn what kind of urban design they actually want and need. We learned that these findings should be quantitative and empirical.

I liked the phrase from the reading, “Opportunities come from overlap,” discussing how nonprofits working together can produce the kind of local change that communities want and need based on the values of the nonprofits and their outreach to the communities they serve. I really liked this concept. This motivated me to think more deeply about the opportunity for housing partnerships at the community level between nonprofits which represent the interests of communities rather than luxury condo developers. I had heard a lot about TLDC (Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation) but that’s only one part of the city. As a nonprofit whose mission is affordable housing in their community, they stand as one element in the set of overlapping organizations which produce the kind of opportunities the reading was describing. I was curious why other neighborhoods don’t have some analog of TLDC, so I reached out and met with several of the boards of directors for the arts districts in San Francisco. All of them highlighted that they are trying to launch NDCs or Neighborhood Development Corporations for their respective districts in order to create the missing partner that could fulfill this ideal from the reading in their communities.

I also reflected on the concept from the reading that reducing transit time adds value for people in cities. This motivated me to reflect on the fact that one of the central concepts of The Portland Plan was measuring the commute time for people in different districts with regular surveys, and then leveraging light rail infrastructure to reduce the commute time across the city to meet the plan’s goal. This is just a night and day difference from the bay area, where there is just no broad regional transit planning on any functional or sane level.

We learned that “Urban design is the entire set of processes that go into creating an urban space.” And we broke this out into class discussion of the points I already mentioned above. This class was also the first time I had heard the NIMBY alternative term BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. Lastly I believe this class was the first time the concept of not sacrificing long-term interests in favor of short-term interests was introduced. This motivated me to reflect on my degree in social justice, and the concept of the bad patriarchal bargain from second-wave feminism. This is essentially the same argument but about workplace sexual harassment; women in the workplace had previously been socialized to expect groping, catcalling, etc from male coworkers in exchange for being allowed to work, but second-wave feminism rose up to interrupt this widely-held belief by calling it a ‘bad patriarchal bargain” because in the long-term, it hurt women, despite presenting the appearance of some short-term employment benefits.


Session 4 “Sustainable Development in Historical Context”

This class was framed in the context of post-war economics in America. It was a very interesting way to frame this topic. America came out of WW2 as the only intact industrial power. This was followed by a long period of reconstruction in the rest of what had previously been the developed world. This period of industrial reconstruction gave America a huge but temporary manufacturing advantage. This advantage was leveraged to create new global institutions like the UN and the international banking and finance system including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and two other now defunct institutions. These new institutions were intended to leverage the long period of industrial reconstruction in order to give the US ultimate and enduring economic power around the world and to prevent any other nation from ever challenging them again.

We learned that the new US-based global financial system gave out loans and aid with extremely pro-US contingencies such as structural adjustment which transferred ownership of public institutions around the world to wealthy US investors while also saddling those nations with immense and functionally eternal debt. This is also the point at which the US built hundreds of military bases all over the world in order to occupy essentially every nation and leverage direct military control in addition to economic control.

We also learned about the rise of the Chicago school/ neoliberalism/ neoclassical economics at the same time. Reactionary capitalist demagogues like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher dismantled the social safety nets, enshrined the wealth gap into public policy, and set us on course to most of the widespread economic crises we face today. We learned that these demagogues popularized the idea that natural resources were infinite and we should maximize exploitation and cut down or burn everything we can find in order to unleash unlimited eternal capitalist growth. This motivated me to reflect more deeply on whether any informed person could have ever really believed this, and whether it was always a bad faith argument from the neoliberals because they knew they would be dead before the real problems arose.

We learned about the Brundtland Commission and the UN’s decision to define the goal of sustainable development not in terms of eternal and unlimited economic growth as the neoliberals had, but rather as working to improve quality of life for the people. This is still considered radical by the neoliberals decades later. Brundtland’s expanded concept made me reflect on my past notes about the bad patriarchal bargain and second-wave feminism, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.”

We also learned the professor’s personal definition for this class, “The term sustainable development is used differently by different groups and organizations. In this class we will use the term to encompass urban planning and policy approaches that can be used to minimize a city’s negative impact on the environment while providing urban residents with the infrastructure and services they need to sustain a high quality of urban life.”

This motivated me to reflect back to my previous critique of the lack of focus on regenerativity. For example, if we “minimize” the ongoing destruction of the ice caps and rainforests, that does nothing to replace what has been lost, or to move towards a future homeostasis that will allow us to avoid human extinction. We are in a car with a foot on the gas pedal and the car is already so far past the edge of the cliff that moving the foot to the brake pedal just does not strike me a serious response to the situation we face.

We also learned the definitions of the triple bottom line and learned two mnemonics. First the three Es (Economy, Environment, Equity), and second the three Ps (Profit, Planet, People). This was part of a discussion on the legacy of the Brundtland Commission. Today we have a list of 17 UN SDGs with hundreds of subcategories explaining how to talk about the problems which sustainable development around the world is trying to solve. This motivated me to reflect on a conversation I had several years ago with a friend who is an environmental M&A consultant. It’s been a major challenge for decades for quantitative analysts, actuaries, and other industry professionals to articulate arguments about sustainability because there was no common set of terms and priorities and no common understanding of how to measure sustainability when analyzing a particular stock, bond, etc. This led to many loosely equivalent sets of priorities and measurements among institutional lenders, pension funds, etc. But now with the SDGs, a widespread consensus has emerged and even reached the point that ETFs are being sold by companies like Vanguard which mimic the makeup of indices like the S&P, only with more sustainable alternatives to the S&P companies. This means these ETFs actually outperform the S&P, and creates a huge dual financial incentive for corporations to improve sustainability under the context of the SDGs while also demonstrative the incentive for investment capital to move to those more sustainable alternatives to unsustainable incumbent institutions.

The class did not reach many of the points in the session outline, but one interesting thing I learned from a reading we did not cover is that the definition of the Anthropocene era in geological terms is the presence of radioisotopes in soil strata, because of humanity’s historical proclivity for detonating hundreds of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere.

We did discuss the legacy of slavery in Haiti and the way that the international community forced the freed slaves to reimburse the French slavers who had enslaved them after the revolution. I had not previously heard about this, and it motivated me to reflect more deeply on the way that this situation closely mirrors the US-centered global financial system’s efforts to do basically the same thing to all the countries of the world through QE, contingent loans, etc.

During this session, we also learned for the first time about the distinction between the double bottom line and the triple bottom line; that distinction being social justice. Without social justice, environmental and economic progress are not valid, they are just green capitalism. The people most affected by environmental and economic crises are the same people who are left out when social justice is not a part of the plan. These three parts of the triple bottom line are tightly linked together. We later saw the professor reject one student presentation for this very reason. The development in the presentation was green and profitable but it was for rich people, not for people; it satisfied the double bottom line but not the triple bottom line.

We also briefly touched on the difference between economic and ecological cities. I had not previously heard these terms contrasted in this way but it struck me as a perfect example of SF vs Portland. An economic city prioritizes cars, wealth for the wealthy, maximum housing prices, regressive transit prices, and allowing wealthy developers to violate the law with only trivial fines; this is San Francisco in a nutshell. In contrast, an ecological city makes it inconvenient and expensive to use cars instead of transit, it prioritizes affordable housing and refuses to allow developers to violate the law with impunity; Portland in a Nutshell.

Lastly, we learned the class definition of Equitable Development, “Equitable development is an approach for meeting the needs of underserved communities through policies and programs that reduce disparities while fostering places that are healthy and vibrant. It is increasingly considered a strong place-based action for creating strong and livable communities.” This tied in with shock doctrine and the way that things are changing today because of covid, the collapse of the biosphere, the wildfires, the jobs and housing crises, and all the other disasters we are enduring simultaneously. The example was given of the Oakland Moms saga, and the exciting progress that has started happening for housing affordability in Oakland.


Session 5 “Equitable Sustainable Development”

The class skipped this session, but I had already done all the work so I’ll talk about what I learned even though this session didn’t actually happen.

In the ted talk with Stiglitz, I learned about the case study of the town of Gary Indiana which parallels the economic story of the larger country. We learned about the example of rent-seekers as a way to critically analyze issues like poverty, inequality, and discrimination not only in Gary but also in the broader national economic context. The example that Stiglitz gives is that of a pie. The problem with the Chicago/ neoliberal/ neoclassical economic perspective is that while the smallest players work to make the pie larger, the largest players work to get a larger slice of the pie without making the pie larger. Stiglitz effect is not just that most of the wealth goes to the right, but that essentially no new wealth is created, and therefore over time there is a widespread redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich.

I had not heard this concept phrased this way before and it caused to reflect more deeply on Marx’s Crisis Theory and the way that countervailing forces must build up a certain momentum until a crisis, when they can finally overpower prevailing forces. The current economic situation and wealth distribution is not tenable. It will change one way or another.

Stiglitz points out that the problems multiply because for example only wealthy people have access to education, and therefore entire generations are forced into castes with essentially no potential for vertical mobility, and essentially no one doing better now than their parents were doing at their age. This argument makes sense and gave me a lot to think about.

Stiglitz finishes with the claim that in the past, we have faced many other crises and always pulled back from the bring. He suggests that we must do that again. This caused me to reflect on how that might be possible, and conclude that it seems extremely unlikely that neoliberalism will somehow address these crises that are in reality a product and side-effect of neoliberalism itself.


Session 6 “Sustainable Development for Whom?”

In this session, we learned about what the green economy is; a way of describing the cause of our sustainability problems – neoliberalism – as somehow actually the solution to these problems while also ignoring the social justice aspect of the triple bottom line. In short, the green economy fulfills merely the double bottom line instead.

We learned from the reading “Sustainable Development for Whom,” that the Franciscans were arguing for a new definition of Sustainable Development. Their core claim was that while SD often advertises itself as beneficial for everyone, it’s generally not. This caused me to reflect on the lessons of Session 4 on the difference between the double bottom line and the triple bottom line. In fact, argue the Franciscans, there are a set of myths that undergird the idea that economic development is always positive. Chief among these myths is the claim that people who live in subsistence economies are somehow backwards or uncivilized.

In reality as we learned in class, this is basically the opposite of the truth. People in subsistence economies are far more resilient to economic crises than those who rely on global supply chains for things like food and water. We also learned that people in subsistence economies have far more free time for art, family, and enjoying life. This mirrors the Brundtland argument that quality of life is more important than economic growth, and from that perspective, a subsistence farmer is actually living a more sustainable life than someone working 40 hours a week under fluorescent lights in a cubicle and relying on Walmart for their meals.

Next we read and discussed, “Green Economy – The Next Oxymoron?” I really enjoyed this reading. In particular I pasted in bold the following quote into my notes, “the concept of a green economy seems to promise an attractive orientation out of the crisis of neoliberalism that became manifest in 2008 and has hit vulnerable countries and social groups.” Of course, as we already learned, this is the opposite of the truth. Focusing on economic growth within the context of environmental sustainability leaves out the fact that neo-liberalism is the cause of social injustice not just under solutions like “The Green Economy,” but also under the widespread conditions that need solving. Neoliberalism is not the solution to neoliberalism.

A better solution we learned about in the article is De-Growth. I gave the example in class that the oxymoron here is like saying “The solution to climate change is to buy Teslas or Priuses” when in reality the solution is to end cars. There is no product to buy to solve the problem of buying too many products. Instead, we need to buy less, consume less, grow economies less, and stop turning to the problem like it’s somehow actually the solution

Other solutions proposed in this article include internalizing externalities into product prices. The professor gave the gas pricing example; if gas was priced to include all its costs, it would be more than ten times the price it is now. This should be true for all products, because as we learned in the class discussion, these costs are today merely being paid by people in developing countries who are forced to foot the bill while we see steep discounts for the products we buy.


Session 7 “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Plans”

At last, the SDGs! In this session we learned about the current set of sustainable development goals from the UN. I won’t list them out here since for me this is not something I am learning about in this session. I have hosted book clubs and taught workshops about this topic in the past, and the instructions say we’re only supposed to talk in this essay about what we learned.

In the reading “Cities Are the Environmental Solution, Not the Problem,” I learned that the US’ population is projected to grow by about a third in the next two decades. This caused me to reflect on how slow our population growth is compared to other countries seeing much higher growth, and particularly in the context of our anti-immigration stance despite our responsibility for many of the humanitarian crises causing mass migration.

The article goes on to argue that we must reinvest in cities, making them a place where the tens of millions of new Americans will be able to live. This led me to reflect on the RHNA forecasts for the bay area. Many of the cities in the bay area are currently forecasting that they will meet their 2016 housing needs in just a few centuries, with some forecasts saying it will take up to eight hundred years to meet their 2016 housing needs based on their current rate of development. A lot is going to change one way or another because a hundred million people are going to have to live somewhere.


Session 8 “Urban Infrastructure”

We learned that we will use the World Bank definition of Urban Infrastructure in this class, “Infrastructure refers to the long-lived engineered structures, equipment, facilities, and services that are used by economic production and by household.” The professor elaborated that long-lived means more than fifty years and engineered means using modern technologies.

We were asked to reflect on our Assignment 1 submissions and list the things we did not think to include. Mine were parks, post offices, and factories, though none of these are present in my neighborhood as we are deep within decaying 1950s sprawl here.

There was also a lengthy and passionate discussion about the problems with Assignment 1. There were a number of undeclared expectations for the assignment which naturally no one fulfilled. I checked with several other students and confirmed that we did not cover the material from the course outline, and skipped this session just like session 5.


Session 9 “Sustainable Urban Water Management”

In the homework for this session, we learned about the topic by logging all the ways we used water on a daily basis and then discussing it together. I was surprised to learn how much less water I use on a daily basis than others. This seemed to highlight the fact that we need to all be consuming a lot less. There was a discussion about the embodied water cost of buying manufactured goods, plus the distribution chains before and after manufacturing as well as the sourcing of the materials.

We learned from Dr Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy’s Ted Talk about when the Dr went home to Sri Lanka after a Tsunami to help them recover, specializing in water and sanitation services. We learned about the religious connotations of water in the culture of Sri Lanka where water is considered sacred and loved. We heard a story about how because of the extreme scarcity of water in Sri Lanka, the families must work to reuse water multiple times for things like drinking and washing vegetables, then washing clothes and the floors, then watering plants. The Dr described Sri Lankans as having a custodial relationship with water.

The takeaway principles we learned are doing more with less because every drop is valuable and no water can be wasted; all water must be reused. This caused me to reflect on xericulture subsistence farming in places like Taos, where Earthships with rainwater capture systems allow people’s earthen homes to contain large greenhouses which grow food crops while also regulating temperature and providing humidity for healthier air. With 2/3 of the US forecast to desertify within a few decades, this is going to be a skill we all need to learn. Another principle we learned in this discussion is that all water is good water and merely needs to be matched with an appropriate use rather than discarded.

We learned that fresh water is distributed inequitably around the planet. This was the first time I had heard the statistic that 97% of Earth’s water is salinated with just 1% available as fresh water and a further 2% locked in the ice caps.

We also learned about the way that urbanization, industrialization and economic activity destroys fresh water supplies by polluting, salinating, or otherwise contaminating fresh water. We also learned about aquifer collapse which I had not previously heard about. I did further research on this topic and learned that until very recently, the entire San Joaquin Valley was an inland lake. After a series of fairly recent cataclysmic geological shifts, it dried up, and has been desertifying ever since. Within the last century, the last parts of the valley which had still been lakes were deliberately drained to create agricultural land, leading to an acceleration in desertification and an end to the last remaining sources of evaporation which had fed rainfall in the Sierras. This would have been interesting information to include in this session since it highlights the fact that basically all of the disasters we face today are our own doing, and that most of them can not be undone at this point no matter how hard we try.


Session 10 “Sustainable Urban Waste Management”

In this session, we talked about the different kinds of waste which must be managed in an urban setting. This led to a discussion of waste management strategies and the social and environmental impacts of these strategies. I learned for the first time that all breastmilk on Earth now contains dioxin, and I learned that this is the most toxic substance known to exist. I also learned that the waste stream is becoming more toxic as long-lived inorganic substances continue to accumulate.

This was also the first day we learned about the professor’s conceptual hierarchy of terms with “approach” being the highest and most broad category. In this case, we talked about the urgency of moving to a resource recovery approach rather than a waste management approach. We learned that currently, 40% of the waste going into landfills could be composted. This alone presents a huge opportunity to divert and recover these valuable resources which are currently going to waste.

We also learned for the first time about the concepts of cradle to grave and cradle to cradle. For example, if there is no safe way to dispose of a product because it is toxic, then maybe we shouldn’t make it; if there is no plan for the grave, then why are you planning the cradle? Conversely, a good cradle to cradle example would be closing the loops for inputs and outputs; dead plant matter can be composted to feed future plants.

We also learned about RRRR or reduce, reuse, recycle, rot. This incorporates similar principles but adds the idea of de-growth. For example, today most of the food we grow goes to waste. Why are we growing all that extra food? Because the system is inefficient. There are lots of problematic side effects to growing more than we consume while also consuming more than we need. We can do all four Rs, just with food.

We learned about upcycling and downcycling. Upcycling is basically thrift stores or something like that where we can reuse things for new purposes instead of disposing of them. Downcycling means deconstructing things to reuse them for their raw materials, such as plastic or metal.

One topic we learned about in the book but not in the class discussion for this session was the idea of putting the responsibility for pollution, disposal, and recycling on both consumers and producers. So for example, we have CRV on cans and bottles, but that’s only on consumers and it’s not clear that it’s enough to actually incentivize recycling. Maybe it would make sense to have a much higher CRV plus internalizing the cost of recycling in the price that producers charge, so that they are paying the cost of later recycling the materials.

In the video “Story of Stuff” there was a lot of interesting statistics about the topic. One that I found fascinating was the fact that 80% of the forests are now gone. This is sort of terrifying and I had no idea this number was so high. Another interesting fact is that while only 5% of the world’s population lives in the US, we consume 30% of the world’s resources and produce 30% of the world’s waste. It keeps going back to the RRRR. We need to consume less and take better care with the way our outputs are managed in close loops.


Session 11 “Sustainable Transportation Management”

In this class we made a very long list of all the types of transportation that we could think of. We also discussed progressive vs regressive ticket pricing. I was a little frustrated with the conclusions we reached so I reached out to a friend who is a Principal Transportation Planner to learn more about the practice related to this topic. He seemed to agree, feeling that progressive ticketing has a low impact on ridership, where better routes and service will have a higher impact and be a better target for new spending, but I keep going back to the point that was repeatedly made in class, that economic concerns are not the only concerns and just because it makes economic sense does not mean it’s the right thing to do. I look forward to taking transportation planning in the fall and learning and reflecting more on this important topic.

We also learned about legitimate reasons for using cars which I had not really reflected on before. For example, people with disabilities or anxiety disorders could ethically argue that cars are a better option for them.

We learned about the Fruitvale development. I had heard about this but not in this much depth. I have always been very interested in Transit Oriented Development, but this class really got me to reflect deeply on this topic for the first time. It seems like a very compelling opportunity for high density projects just like we saw in Curitiba along the arterials. It makes sense as a parallel.

It was also very interesting to learn about the Curitiba BRT system in the YouTube video we watched. I had always heard BRT described as a half-measure that rich people would not adopt. It was interesting to see a whole city built on BRT and with such high ridership. This caused me to reflect on whether what I’ve heard about BRT was potentially inaccurate or incomplete. The idea of doing elevated platforms with people paying before they get on seems particularly helpful for the speed of the system. It will be interesting to see how BRT works out for the new East Bay BRT line.

The line that stuck with me most from the Curitiba case study was “Adding population without adding infrastructure and planning to support the additional population will result in a lower quality of life and an increase in social problems in the city.” This seems to be close to where we are at today in America. The idea that we are already in such a housing crisis plus we are adding another 70 million people in the next few decades presents similar sorts of challenges to what this quote is talking about. We will either make changes now or we will make them later, but the way things are just isn’t going to keep working.

One thing that raised my eyebrows in this case study was in “Bogota: Building a Sustainable City”(3:15-5:20) when Penolosa seemed to argue for broken windows theory; that people will decide what kind of life to have based on their surroundings, and so eliminating the negative cues about the kind of neighborhoods you have will cause people to choose to live in a better way. He said this gave people more self esteem which solved urban social problems. This idea is directly responsible for a huge number of social problems in America. I have repeatedly reflected deeply on this segment of the video since we watched it. I think it would take a great deal of research to reconcile these arguments, and I may do that at some future point.

We also learned about the problem of connecting centers rather than connecting people to where they need to go. This problem seems like one of the most challenging unresolved issues in urban design; how can you build infrastructure for the future when the future is in flux? The example of the Chicago trains radiating like wheels on a spoke was very interesting. When the system was built, it made sense, but today most people are commuting from one suburb to another and there is effectively no simple and fast transit option for them using the existing infrastructure.


Session 12 “Sustainable Urban Energy Management”

In this class we talked about energy types and sources. We learned about some interesting anecdotes. For example, the story of Moreno glass blowers switching from biomass to coal in the fourteenth century was interesting. They were able to do more work, but with the negative side-effect of an increase in pollution.

We also learned about the asymmetry of future consumption growth in developing nations. The United States uses a lot of power per person compared to developing countries. This means two things. First, the US needs to move to more sustainable energy sources through government subsidies and investment in a green smart power grid. Secondly, the global south is currently not electrified like the global north is. We need to help developing nations produce more-expensive renewable energy instead of allowing them to make the same unsustainable mistakes we did by burning coal to power their development. We also learned that aside from the fact that burning fossil fuels for energy exposes the population to the equivalent of six packs of cigarettes per day, the biosphere can’t handle the CO2 that would be produced during this process.

Based on this fact, we learned about how energy infrastructure development is currently being funded around the world. Bonds and government investment are basically it. So we need better policies around how they make those decisions in order to move to things like photovoltaic instead of coal.


Session 13 “Cost Benefit Analysis and Precautionary Principle”

This was an interesting session. We learned about two alternate approaches to evaluating the relative good and bad between different options in urban planning: cost benefit analyses versus the precautionary principle.

In the first reading, Pricing the Priceless, we learned about the principle of cost benefit analysis analyzed through the perspective of a moral argument about society. The claim of the paper was that a cost benefit analysis offers a deeply flawed method which biases economic value above all other concerns. Within this framework, there is no way to argue for social most justice issues and environmental issues, because there is no clear, direct economic measure to compare with these kinds of concerns. On the other hand, some social justice and environmental issues can be addressed under this framework. If we have a long-term financial incentive not to destroy the biosphere, then there is a rational cost-benefit reason not to do that. If it’s cheaper to give homeless people housing, then there is a rational cost-benefit reason to do that.

In the second reading, The Precautionary Principle Puts Value First, we learned about the precautionary principle which argues that rather than basing decisions on economic interests, we should require evidence for a lack of potential harm from those entities who wish to undertake any action in society. It argues that instead of just being a profitable endeavor, products and enterprises should have to demonstrate proof that they will not harm people in the process of what they want to do.

The way this dichotomy was presented led me to reflect on whether this is a true dichotomy or perhaps rather a case of people with different epistemologies talking past each other. Both of these concepts are based on different ideas about how to decide what’s true and right, and both of these concepts have problems. The cost-benefit analysis is often the only possible language which our institutions and businesses can legally interact with. Maybe that should change, but it’s not clear that the precautionary principle is up to the task, based on the readings.

It’s not possible to prove a negative. The idea that every entity should be required to prove it will not cause harm before taking any action would not only be logically impossible but also essentially outlaw all harms. Certainly there are egregious harms from some entities which should be addressed, but a certain amount of risk is part of life. If I want to open a café, how can I possibly prove that I will harm no one? What degree of risk is acceptable? Should we institute a worldwide ban all products containing peanuts because of the risk to someone with an unknown allergy? Under the precautionary principle as stated in this class, yes we should.

This session poses a false dichotomy where neither option works all the time. The missing attempt at reconciling these ideas leaves any underlying truth uninterrogated and demonstrates only that neither of these options works in all situations, while only one of them can even approach those with the power to actually make decisions on these topics. Towards the end of the session, the professor said we “should be thinking conceptually rather than theoretically or practically.” Indeed, that’s the only way I can rationalize the argument made by session is by starting with the assumption that’s right and not thinking too deeply about it.


Session 14 “Green New Deal”

In this session’s first reading, “Blueprint for Europe’s Just Transition,” we learned that austerity can not be a solution to the collapse of the biosphere. In fact, progress of any kind of expensive, and you can’t get progress with austerity. There are many related side effects which are both cause and effect of the biosphere’s collapse. These include economic inequality and the collapse of democracies.

Tying back to earlier sessions, we learn that the blueprint calls for community-level outreach and action supported at the federal level through spending by federal and global governments and institutions. The blueprint argues that this can facilitate “a just transition” to a sustainable future which simultaneously resolves the causes and effects of the collapse of the biosphere, while mitigating the worst effects of climate change and preserving some kind of possible future for humanity.

I was excited to learn that one of the main points of this plan is moving to a 4-day work week with a 3-day weekend while maintaining livable wages. It was a surprise to learn that the plan also includes a basic income for people in industries being phased out, in order to help them retrain for a new sustainable career.

In the second reading, “Green New Deal Report, Data for Progress,” I was surprised to learn that the GND is actually quite popular among Americans. It made me reflect on the way these goals would impact America, and it makes sense when you consider that the most popular career in most states is truck driving and there are already many companies with self-driving trucks on the road. The GND could solve many of America’s problems while helping push many of our problems in the right direction.

We also watched a video called “The Green New Deal: Putting the climate at the heart of global policy” in which we learned that insect and animal populations are already collapsing around the world. I was excited to learn that this source also contained the argument that GND policies need to be implemented at the community level with lots of outreach. It strikes me that democratizing the GND in this way would allow private capital and investment money to buy into some of the efforts, creating a whole new green startup industry dedicated to doing ethical work preserving communities around the nation and around the world. Imagine tech bros competing to do the most good for once?

It was also interesting to learn that the GND would be the first ever attempt to meet the scale of the challenges of the climate crisis. This fact caused me to reflect on the terrifying fact that despite the scale of these problems, no one has ever really tried to deal with them on their own scale; it’s just too big and terrifying to grapple. I hope to see us try before we go extinct.


Session 15 “The Covid 19 Pandemic”

In this session, we learned about the disparate impact of covid on marginalized populations. We had already all done research projects about this so most of the information was review, and most of my notes were the dramatic graphs showing huge differences in covid impact between privileged and marginalized groups.

In the first reading, “The Fullest Look Yet at Racial Inequality of Covid 19,” we learned about the racial disparities between Black, white, and Latin populations. As you may expect, we learned that the white population is doing significantly better than the Black and Latin populations. In July when the story was published, the Latin infection rate was about double the white infection rate, with the Black infection rate in between.

In the second article, we learned that a similar pattern was playing out across groups based on income and the hierarchical position of workers. Wealthy people and managers were doing great, while front-line workers and the poor were bearing the brunt of the infections. The readings and class discussion did not include a comparison of whether the income patterns in Europe were also true in America but it seems reasonable to assume there might be a strong similarity in the expression of that pattern here.

The Black New Deal reading was a very exciting glimpse into activism in my own community. I was not aware of this document before reading it in this session. I learned that the black community in Oakland had put together a very long and comprehensive list of demands for a new-deal-style investment in the black community to ameliorate not only the impacts of covid, but centuries of impacts which the black community has suffered. I have often cited this document since reading it during this session. It’s a great example of a fairly comprehensive list of examples of what’s wrong and how to fix it.


  1. What have you learned in this course about the concept of “sustainable development”?

This question is hard. I’ve worked on this issue for years so most of this was review for me. Some of the most valuable and interesting things I learned in this class were concepts that challenged things I had held to be true based on my past learning. For example, the idea that BRT can be a sexy and functional alternative to trains and that they can find adoption by wealthy citizens, in direct contradiction to what I learned in Urban Planning classes at PSU.

Another example of valuable lessons learned in this class is the elaboration on historical connections between concepts from my past degrees in Sociology and Social Justice and the fight to represent these issues within the context of sustainable development, on par with economic concerns rather than subject to economic concerns.

Also valuable was the idea of a triple bottom line being in contrast to a double bottom line. The EEE and the PPP will come in handy during my future work, and I’m sure I will often cite the argument that these things should be treated equally rather than placing economics as the ultimate concern, particularly with regard to privileging short-term interests over long-term interests. If there’s not going to be a biosphere to do business in, then economic concerns become irrelevant, after all.

Lastly, choosing deliberately from the available futures requires first articulating the options. If we don’t’ learn about what kind of future is possible (sustainable) then there isn’t any chance we can get there. David Harvey argued that urbanism is a process, and if we don’t choose how to do it, then we will do it wrong. This is a bigger argument than just cities. Nations and global institutions face the same challenge. If we don’t articulate how we want to live in the world and what possible future we want to move towards, then we will instead move away from a possible future and towards extinction. The choice is ours but only if we keep PPP/EEE in mind and use it to articulate the just and possible future we want to build.


  1. What are your five main takeaways from this course?

The first main takeaway is the concept of PPP/EEE and the way this course tries to articulate a moral argument for placing social justice and environmental sustainability on the same level as economic concerns. This makes sense intuitively, but a coherent epistemic and logical framework for discussing these things together seems to still be under development to some degree. I think the recent publishing of the UN SDGs is a huge step forward towards unifying the language and conceptual understanding of how these things are related, how to measure the impacts and duties we have, and how to talk about them in a coherent and more objective way.

The world is turning to a desert. Most of the United States is already desert. Even if we do a 180 today and get every person on the same page about doing a Green New Deal, it’s too late to stop most of what’s coming. The prescient fact that most of the world is going to be a desert very soon gives us a huge advantage in taking steps today to prepare while it’s still relatively easy for the future that is now inevitable. Xericulture subsistence farming just seems like the most obvious thing after taking this class. Those weirdos in Taos building earthships were right, and the rest of us need to start learning before we run out of food and water, because it seems basically impossible that the collapse of the food and water system is not just around the corner. To that end, I’ve actually already started looking at funding sources and sites for building an experimental desert farm focused on minimizing water costs and maximizing nutrient-rich crop production. Even if everything ends up being fine, the people who go to Mars are going to have to learn this; that whole planet is a desert just like this one is about to be. We’ll need to develop the tools to grow food both here and there, and we can start now.

The accomplishment that is the Black New Deal document can not be overstated. Honestly, this should have been its own unit. I feel like we glazed over it in this class, when it’s a verbose and prolific list of examples of exactly what’s wrong and exactly how to fix it. I have already started constantly citing this document, and I will continue doing that as I try to find any way I can help check off anything that’s on that list.

To that end, number four on my list is the lack of action on “almost all black students dropping all their courses when the lockdown started.” This anecdote is a textbook example of institutional racism in a class and program and university that’s ostensibly about not doing that. If antiracism at SFSU and USP is more than greenwashing, then this should not have happened. I get that it’s inconvenient to do the outreach to these students and make the concessions that are necessary for social justice to happen for our classmates, but that’s literally what this class is about. This department failed to live up to the values we learned about this semester. As I said before, I am already launching an internship research project in collaboration with CFA to investigate what happened and why and what we can do about it. This situation in our department and school is not acceptable, particularly in the context of this class literally about not doing that.

Lastly has to be the final discussion of the semester. Based on what we’ve seen and learned, is any of this working or is there any reason to think it will ever start working? The answer I heard from both the professor and the other students was a resounding “no but it makes us feel better,” and that’s what I find most frustrating about this class, and especially its inattention to intellectual laziness in many of the topics we discussed. The fact that there were so many points when we were told things like that we “should be thinking conceptually rather than practically,” or the example I raised in the previous point about nothing being done about “all the black kids dropping their classes” just makes the idea of considering a career in this field impossible. We raise so many important concerns in this class, offer conflicting or absent solutions, and “[focus on concepts rather than practical]” things like the footnote that was the Black New Deal with its list of specific, local, actionable demands that could actually be worked on today. I find this extremely frustrating, and we have to do better. If this doesn’t work then why are we doing it? If we can’t articulate possible futures using real-world, non-conceptual calls to action, specific policy recommendations, etc then why are we doing this? The cognitive dissonance and frequently self-refuting moral arguments at the core of this subject are the biggest thing I am taking away from this course.


  1. How has this class impacted you professionally?

I left my previous career in Software Engineering with a degree in Computer Science. My primary academic goal is to get and MBA and then start working on a PhD in Strategy. I decided I wanted to get a broad undergraduate background in social sciences on the way to my primary goal, as a way to develop a strong understanding of social problems and the way they relate to different communities in cities. In three years on a triple full time workload, I got six associate degrees in Sociology, Social Justice, Women’s Studies, Behavioral Science, Arts and Cultures, and LGBT Studies and Queer Studies. I always knew I wanted to study Urban Planning for my Bachelor, but the reason I came to San Francisco to study the topic of what’s wrong with cities is because there is nowhere in the world where problems with housing, transportation, wages, equity gaps, and institutional racism are worse. This city is the capital of doing things the wrong way, so it’s naturally the perfect place to study these social problems in depth. I’m also doing three minors along with my Bachelor: Race and Resistance Studies, Queer Ethnic Studies, and Philosophy. The purpose of all of these is to tie together a strong understanding of the way that social problems effect many different types of communities in cities.

My ultimate professional goal is to develop nonprofit solutions to social problems in cities. I’m planning to start working specifically on housing and then eventually on food as well. This class has impacted my professional development by providing many important connections between the topics I chose for my many other degrees as background for understanding the state of these communities and the problems they face. For example, the PPP/EEE concept puts the many social problems on the same level as the economic concerns of the luxury condo developers who have been erasing whole neighborhoods in the Market/Octavia district, on the same level as the collapsing biosphere, and urges that these three concerns be solved together.

Being able to articulate these problems in this way means being able to take action and make progress actually happen. This is why I have been so frustrated with the conceptual and non-practical approach to analyzing many of the topics in this class, because I’m interested in actually doing something about these problems. I think perhaps that frustration is the most valuable takeaway for my professional career, because it gives me the context to process these conflicting ideas and parse out the practical, pragmatic, possible solutions from sources like the BND or the GND in order to argue for their implementation. It’s also why I’m looking forward to the Alternative Urban Futures class which seems much more practical and less abstract.


  1. How has this class impacted you personally?

When I got my Sociology degree, I did an internship looking at student success gaps based on demographic permutations; how is one population doing compared to another and why? I interviewed a researcher at the time who had conducted a qualitative analysis of the success of a particular ipop (impacted population) and he said the number one indicator that a student will succeed is whether someone would miss them, whether another student knows their name and would notice if they were gone. For this reason and others, cohorts are one of the most important factors not just for success but also for resiliency.

Many undergraduate programs cohort their ipops for their core classes. For example, Latin students are placed in a cohort which uses culturally relevant texts in their English classes. The same is often true for Black students, and other ipops. This has been a major personal resiliency factor during the covid crisis. I have personally relied heavily on strong relationships with other students in the cohort, and we have leveraged tools for collaboration and mutual support like group chats, shared collaborative study guides, discords, and other things that have allowed us to succeed together in a way that we just could not without the close-knit group we have become during this crisis. I can see many of these relationships continuing long after we graduate. This difficult year has certainly been made much easier than it would have been without these relationships, not just as a student and professional but also on a personal level.

Lastly, I should assume good intent. This is something I have been working on all my life, because I can often come across much more strongly than I intend to. I’m sure there have been points in this semester or this essay when I should have dissimulated more or should have worded something more subtly, and I’m sorry for that. I recall a tense conversation about the homeless population in Berkeley in particular. Looking back, I realize that erasing the hardships of the people who have suffered so much was not the intention, and my frustration with the city’s hostility towards its citizens should be more clearly separated from the discussion in the class and the positions that were taken by those I disagreed with. Overall, it was a great semester and I would do it again. Thank you for your labor, and I look forward to working with you in the Spring.


  1. What was your experience taking USP 530 classes on Zoom?

I hate zoom. I hate that it is not accessible to so many people. I hate that it reinforces structural racism by excluding so many marginalized students, and also I don’t see any alternative. This year has been a nightmare and no part of it was ideal. I hope that it spurs someone somewhere to invent a better option, and I hope most of all that SFSU finds a way to offer online options to students who don’t feel able to follow the president’s demand that we start looking for jobs and apartments “starting now” in spite of the stay at home order.

USP 514 Session 15 Notes

November 18th
Session Fifteen: The 
Covid 19 Pandemic 

REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION FIFTEEN (click on Session 14 on left side to access reading)


  1. The Fullest Look Yet at Racial Inequalty of Covid 19 –
  2. How Covid 19 is laying bare inequality in Europe
  3. Black New Deal 
    • Community Ready Corps and The Anti Police-Terror Project convened a wide range of Black leaders in Oakland gathered virtually to develop a set of demands in terms of what we expect of our City’s response to this crisis
    • WE, as the Descendants of Slaves, Black, African American organized in order to force acknowledgement of the impact of this crisis on the Black community to forge a path forward to health, demand equitable treatment from all public, local and state government and to establish a space for Black voices at all tables that plan around, impact and shape our lives.
    • Black people are not suffering at higher rates of COVID-19 because we are “lazy” or “unhealthy”. We are suffering at higher rates as a direct result of 500 years of discriminatory treatment. East and West Oakland have the worst air quality in the City of Oakland, we have the least access to healthy food, the least access to quality education and jobs and face the most discrimination by city policy and policymakers.
    • The disproportionate impact on Black people demands a disproportionate response – most of the resources must be given/directed to the greatest need.
      • Publish desegregated data by race and zip code to properly track spread and to inform allocation of resources.
      •  No person, company or entity should be allowed to profit off of a pandemic. Nor should the city of Oakland direct COVID disaster funding towards ongoing development plans without being informed by relevant data to support those decisions as being a science based response to the pandemic.
      •  No government can place a demand on a people without incurring responsibility for the costs those demands will exact – free masks for all, testing, retesting, contact tracing and healthcare, internet access, etc.
      • Reparations for Black people, who as a demographic are disproportionately affected in this moment as a result of historic structural, institutional, and systemic racism
      • To have free, full, accessible testing and retesting sites, both walk-up and drive-through, in East and West Oakland and at encampments throughout Oakland.
      • Supply 500,000 reusable face masks and 500,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to the African American community.
      • Give anyone of African or African American ancestry priority status for testing, the same as medical personnel, first responders, and essential workers.
      • Black maternal health and birth workers’ rights are prioritized to offer greater safety and better outcomes for Black mothers and babies.
      • Better resource the already culturally competent and accessible clinics in East and West Oakland, with funds to enable them to buy tests and offer unlimited testing.
      • Data is collected and that the race of all people impacted and the outcomes of their interaction with COVID 19 such as hospitalization, ventilation, or death, are recorded and desegregated by zip code.
      • Ventilation and other care for COVID 19 not be denied due to anti-Blackness.
      • Systemic racism be addressed, through both short and long term solutions, as a root cause of the disproportionate impact of COVID 19 on Black people.
      • Alameda County to scale up their overall testing capacity, as more testing sites are needed countywide, including in many hospitals such as Highland Hospital.
      • All people are entitled to free masks, testing, contact tracing, and care – especially people who are currently incarcerated, living in congregate living situations, and newly released and entering into a living situation with family and/or other people.
      • Consistent best practices put in place, monitored, and enforced in all congregant living spaces that house vulnerable minority populations in danger of being infected by staff or one another, mass death due to lack of intentional care should be considered as a threat to life.
      • An end to all permits regarding potential pollutants in opportunity zones, closures for non-essential businesses that impact the environment, and concrete action on factors contributing to a toxic environment in Oakland.
      • Free healthcare and access to testing, including antibody testing, for all people.
      • Testing and a policy concerning containment at transitional homes.
      • Specific, relevant and community-led mental health resources for Black people to be made free, accessible and available to all, including grief support for people who have endured loss due to COVID 19 and beyond.
      • A moratorium on school closures and co-locations in Oakland.
      • Universal passage of all students during this time due to lack of technology equity and redistribution of resources to ensure that all students have access to what they need.
      • Measures to increase access to the internet including buses with wifi in neighborhoods to provide internet access and making internet a public utility to ensure access for all.
      • Shelter, housing protections, and healthcare for all students and their families.
      • No criminalization of youth in Oakland related to COVID 19 precautions such as wearing a mask, etc.
      • Investment in community schools once students return, with wraparound services such as health clinics, nurses, mental health services, food for students and families.
      • Divest in school police departments altogether and invest instead in health services, arts and culture programming, and student supports.
      • Recognize the difficulty of distance learning for many students and create accessible resources. All students should have equal access.
      • Hold a fair vote for the school board that is open to youth.
      • Have a community oversight body that is chosen by community members to oversee a holistic transition back to school.
      • Create meaningful programs to offer mental health support for youth in their respective community.
      • Retention of and protections for Black Educators, including a right to return to jobs.
      • Protection, security of employment rights and immediate paid sick days for all essential service workers, the majority of whom are Black people.
      • Personal protective equipment for all frontline workers and financial compensation for the risk that essential frontline workers are taking.
      • Mandatory free testing and retesting for all frontline workers and protection and paid time off for people who are self-isolating, parenting children or caring for others.
      • Overall support for the livelihood of Black people during this time.
      • Additional protection and support for rebuilding for Black businesses to ensure their survival, including a dedicated fund that is low-barrier and without application process.
      • Deferral of current payments and taxes for Black businesses and forgiveness of debts.
      • Requirement of the city to contract specifically with Black businesses in order to provide much-needed income.
      • Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to receive no interest loans, reimbursements, and debt forgiveness.
      • Right to return requirement to combat systemic racism for all employees.
      • Community oversight body to ensure that “return to normal” does not usher in a new era of even more violent capitalism and greater dispossession for Black people and businesses.
      • Transparency around the cruise ship that docked in Oakland and the impacts on the workers, as well as free healthcare and testing for all workers who were exposed and their families. And any other major events that jeopardize the health and safety of workers, and communities—the right to know.
      • The ability to declare and receive compensation for a standby for health and safety.
      • Right to return for workers who are laid off and right to stay for workers who do not want to leave their jobs. And right to return to those who elect to protect their health in a pandemic.
      • Protection for Black union leaders.
      • Congress should create a supplementary direct assistance program for the self-employed and microbusinesses to help cover the cost of lost business, paid sick leave, individual health care costs, and fixed expenses.
      • Self-employed Americans depend on critical e-commerce infrastructure, including financial services, shipping, and Internet connectivity. The federal government should ensure that these essential services remain fully operational, even as the public and private sectors take greater measures to contain the spread of the virus.
      • PPES mandatory for all Frontline and essential workers. State/County/City should make them available to employers at cost. Currently they have to get them at retail this is an additional cost they can’t afford.
      • Employers should receive subsidies as an incentive to protect their workers.
      • Unemployment Insurance rates should not increase because of COVID layoffs – rates should stay flat.
      • Workers compensation insurance should be covered for employers so that they do not take a hit when workers are out sick with COVID 19.
      • Congress should expand Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by increasing the income threshold (which is dependent on a number of factors), including younger and childless workers, and eliminating the marriage penalty. Lawmakers should also allow it to be calculated and administered on a quarterly basis instead of annually, which would better support individuals struggling to manage short-term income volatility.
      • The City of Oakland and the County of Alameda should help facilitate a local Small Business Relief fund. The fund will be Hosted by The California Endowment, the Small Business Relief Fund to provide immediate support to struggling self-employed and small business owners. TCE will partner with Opportunity Fund, California’s largest nonprofit microlender, to ensure critical capital remains available to these entities throughout this crisis.
      • Six-month income replacement program conditioned upon full and continued employment of all restaurant staff, payment of rents to landlords, and ongoing payables to suppliers.
      • Provide rent abatement for the duration of the administrative closure followed by percentage rent through 2020 for tenants. This must be coupled with mortgage forgiveness for landlords.
      • Suspend state sales and payroll tax through end of year. Permit deferral of utility payments until reopening. Mandate that fees charged by third-party delivery platforms to our local restaurants be capped at a maximum 10% of the order.
      • Require business loss insurance to cover COVID-19 closures for hospitality businesses. The Governor must declare that the pandemic has caused physical loss and damage.
      • Suspend the payment of all insurance premiums (and, protect against a spike in premium related to COVID-19), utility payments, fines and provide cure periods to businesses for violations that do not pose an immediate hazard to the public and workers. All taxes, fees, premiums and fines must be suspended indefinitely until a thorough and thoughtful strategy can be implemented to address these payments.
      • Add flexibility to the definition of small business to allow small to mid-size restaurants to apply for aid.
      • Establish an on-call pool of African American restaurants to provide food and beverages throughout all city departments for all events, functions, meetings, etc. This list is not exhaustive.
      • City/County should contract with Oakland based businesses for office supplies, cleaning supplies, paper, vehicles, etc. This list is not exhaustive.
      • Corporate accountability- no more subsidies, no more tax breaks! Corporations, real estate investors, developers must pay their fair share to fund public resources we rely on like public health, affordable housing, etc.
      • Create a pool of funding to support the programming of CBOs, cultural institutions, direct service nonprofits, and artists whose services are essential to the cultural preservation and artistic health of marginalized communities
      • Decarceration for the safety of all people, including those inside prisons who are incarcerated and also for the workers inside jails.
      • Mandatory testing for all people inside jails to prevent community spread.
      • Re-entry resources for people who are released, including financial support, identification, food, housing, MediCal and funds for family members who house and care for newly released people.
      • The removal of barriers resulting from a criminal record in accessing key essential human necessities.
      • End the militarization of police.
      • No national guard or military enforcement.
      • No further criminalization, fines or arrest of Black people based on the COVID 19 mandates, including orders on masks, travel, etc. especially for unhoused people who are disproportionately targeted and impacted.
      • All law enforcement must immediately cease profiling Black people, including health authority, housing authority, Oakland Police Department, sheriffs, BART and other transit police.
      • End all requirements that people meet with parole officers, attend court, and other appointments. End all penalties related to this.
      • Stop criminal enforcement and divert funds to invest in public health workers, education and distribution of resources.
      • Cease police use of pandemic to conduct raids.
      • No expansion of the surveillance state.
      • No increased surveillance in connection to slow streets project.
      • No use of disaster funds by City to implement non COVID19 data to implement non essential programming connected to non essential development/gentrification.
    • HOUSING:
      • Access to hotel rooms and vacant units for all unhoused residents who want them now.
      • A humane, dignified, harm reduction approach to non-infected residents in housing or hotels, to allow for the same shelter-in-place guidance and guidelines as the general public.
      • Provide safe and secure off or onsite storage for all belongings of unhoused residents while sheltering in hotels or spaces.
      • Access to jobs for hotel workers on a voluntary basis, to work in hotels providing housing and a right to return for all of the hotel’s usual workers once business returns to normal.
      • No over-policing of people who are unhoused and sheltering in hotels.
      • Resources for new mothers and babies in sheltering spaces, including diapers, wipes, and other essentials.
      • Debt forgiveness of back rent for renters who cannot pay rent or utilities during this time.
      • Personal protective equipment, training, testing, and paid sick leave for all people working in transitional housing and shelters. Protections for residents and workers.
      • The return of buildings to the people once developers default, abandon it or leave it vacant.
      • The use of private hotels, closed schools, the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and the Coliseum to provide housing for those who need it.
      • Rent and mortgage moratorium and forgiveness across the board for the length of time necessary not to experience massive evictions.
      • No evictions citywide.
      • Stop all sweeps of houseless settlements and provide bathrooms, showers, hand washing stations, soap, drinking water, laundry vouchers, dumpsters, vermin abatement, and cleaning supplies.
      • Protections for transit drivers including partitions between driver and passengers, space for physical distancing, paid sick leave, and personal protective equipment.
      •  Disclosure of COVID 19 positive status for emergency services drivers who are transporting someone who has COVID 19.
      •  AC Transit must implement safety guidelines for drivers and passengers.
      • Guaranteed free public transportation for frontline workers, including BART.
      • Protection and funds for families of transportation workers and mandatory free testing and retesting for all transportation workers.
    • Other Resources:
      • Stop all nonessential construction in marginalized high-risk communities.
      •  Transparency on the use of COVID disaster funding in Oakland.
      • The City of Oakland’s Department of Race and Equity must activate itself around the disparity of this moment and be given additional resources and staff to do so.
      • City of Oakland shall Fully implement the ordinance establishing the Department of Race & Equity and increase staffing with an additional 7 FTE and requisite funding for the Department of Race and Equity.
      • Prioritizing community projects- City and County staff time and resources should go to community projects first (affordable housing, small business support, etc) and private profit-driven projects and proposals last.
      • Food access- ensure all Black people have access to healthy and fresh food even when the market drives up food prices in the crisis.
      • Diversify the boards and commissions that inform and govern city decisions to ensure Black folks are part of decision making.
      • Ensure pedestrian safety and traffic calming measures in East and West Oakland neighborhoods so that Black children and youth can walk, play and bike outside without fear of injury or fatality. Without the isolation or criminalization through enforcement of communities, with impacted communities at the table to be part of any plans.
    • Long Term Demands:
      • Reparations, which include: debt forgiveness, free education, free healthcare, enforcement of CA Slavery Era Insurance Registry & similar local slavery era disclosure ordinances including mandatory reporting, imposition of maximum fines & penalties, mandatory fund contribution from companies that have disclosed already, and distribution of funds to Black-led organizations serving Black populations. Possibly even expand law to include profiteers from the housing/financial crisis and carceral systems.
      • HEALTHCARE: Access to long term mental health care, funding of culturally competent free clinics, cooperatives, community programming centered around healing and facilitation of individual and group agency.
      • Environment – cessation of environmentally compromising projects placed in black and brown communities, united and systematic planning, and immediate remediation of toxic neighborhoods.
        • Create neighborhood food banks.
        • Fund urban farms.
        • Fund urban gardening.
        • Utilize public land to grow food for distribution.
        • Plant edible plants in marginalized neighborhoods.
        • Tax property owners for boarded “unavailable” housing discouraging vacancies to raise prices or to divest neighborhoods for speculators.
      • EDUCATION:
        • No more privatization of public schools serving Black communities.
        • Fully functioning state of the art facilities with the appropriate technology.
        • Culturally relevant curriculum.
        • No sale of school land to private developers.
        • Community oversight.
        • Staff should reflect student body recruitment and incentivize to become educators.
        • Find out of school community based enrichment.
        • College fund.
        • Professional/craft/trade training.
        • No police in schools.
      • HOUSING
        • Land trust for Black people in East and West Oakland. Utilizing eminent domain over vacant or underutilized properties to create a land trust for housing and economic development for Black people. This would be a form of reparations for many things but specifically for the use of eminent domain to displace Black residents from Oakland and ongoing gentrification etc.
        • Toxic-free communities, immediate repudiation, right to be housed elsewhere during remediation with funds to relocate with right to return/right of first refusal at the previous rate.
        • Equitable neighborhood services including cleaning and access to parks.
        • Alameda County must increase diversion programs that keep people out of cages and allow them to successfully thrive.
        • End cash money bail.
        • No late night releases out of Santa Rita jail.
        • An audit of the Santa Rita jail by an impartial party.
        • Redistribute recidivism funds to culturally competent programming invested in education, job training, and service to those incarcerated.
        • Remove all police from schools and redistribute those funds to student materials and needs.
        • The Oakland Police Commission should have the autonomy to function without interference from city leadership.The citizens of Oakland have agreed with the establishment of the concept of the Police Commission in order to create proper and impartial oversight for OPD.
        • The city of Oakland must create and implement a response to mental health crisis, interpersonal violence and substance abuse that does not lead with law enforcement.
        • The city of Oakland must redefine public safety to include jobs, housing, education, clean streets, mental health and access to food, water and clean air.
        • The Oakland Police Department must be transparent and honest about incidents of Use of Force which still disproportionately impact Black Oaklanders.
        • Provide free transportation to unhoused/displaced persons with a means to access health care and other human needs.
        • Provide free transportation to all low-income community members.

USP 514 Session 14 Notes

November 16th
Session Fourteen:  
Green New Deal 



  1. Blueprint for Europe’s Just Transition –
    • Austerity is not a solution to the climate collapse.
      • Progress is expensive. You can’t get progress with austerity.
    • Economic inequality is another major problem facing civilization.
    • Democracies are collapsing around the world as a result of the unaddressed economic and climate crises.
      • These three things are tied together and can only be addressed together.
    • Background Process
      • Get everyone on board with understanding gnd
      • Listen to stakeholders and incorporate their feedback to create “the just transition”
      • Bring everything together to form a comprehensive vision
      • Bring the plans to the institutions
        • This is where this document comes in
    • Transform financialized capitalism into something that supports rather than threatens our long-term interests with regard to justice, equity, etc.
      • America is the “vampire mothership
        • The private sector sucks the blood of the country like a parasite while also exterminating the population and destroying the ecology that sustains the extractive, productive, and consumptive activities which the vampire capitalism relies on
    • Class discussion:
      • Main demands
        • 3-day weekend/4-day work work
          • More jobs, less work
        • Democratize the economy and society across workplaces and communities
        • Fair wages
          • People should be able to afford to live if they are working
        • Local job creation, including rural areas
      • Guarantee a basic income for industries that are being phased out
      • Fund government procurement from sustainable GND manufacturers
      • Use the GPW to fund major buyback programs for vacant housing stock
      • Penalize non-renewable investments
  2. Green New Deal Report, Data for Progress –
    • GND is necessary to meet the scale and urgency of environmental challenges facing America
    • GND can bring American job and economic opportunity
    • GND is popular among American citizens
    • GND can be environmentally just and distribute benefits equitably
    • GND is Financially feasible and necessary
  3. Creating a Road Map for a Green New Deal” –
    • AOC and others protested at the offices of Pelosi, demanding GND
    • Large scale projects are essential to resolve climate crisis
  4. “Can A Blue Wave Deliver A Green New Deal” –
    • More coverage of the same AOC/Pelosi protest



  1. Watch the video Clean and Resilient Recovery (1 hour 30 minutes) –

    1. Answer the 5 questions below in writing and be prepared to discuss them in class:
  2. What are the main points raised in this video about Covid 19, the SDGs and Climate Change?
    • The historic economic paradigms are inefficient, polluting, and not resilient.
    • Alternatives exist as articulated by the UN SDGs.
    • The post-covid recovery can be clean and resilient.
  3. What similarities and differences are different nations facing?
    • Everyone faces economic collapse due both to covid and climate change
    • Everyone faces disasters like covid and will continue to face wider challenges as the collapse of the biosphere progresses
    • Different countries have different access to investment capital to implement change
    • Different countries face different short and long-term threats from climate change
  4. What are the main challenges addressed in this video?
    • Covid is just a sneak peek of the disasters that are coming as a result of the climate collapse
    • Most of the crises we are going to face in the near future are either directly or indirectly related to the ongoing collapse of the biosphere
  5. What solutions are presented?
    • UK
      • As we recover from covid and rebuild, we can make wiser decisions about the kind of future we want.
      • We need to use sustainability and resiliency as the lens through which to view the recovery and rebuilding post-covid.
      • Subsidize clean alternative vehicle and transportation designs
    • Bangladesh
      • Scale up early warning systems for extreme storms
        • These investments save 10x the cost in lives and property damage
      • Covid recovery needs to be durable and resilient
        • Investment must be guided by and directed through these principles
      • SDG alignment is key to a resilient recovery
      • Supply chains need to be circular
      • Wellbeing and inclusiveness as central goals is key to securing long-term prosperity in addition to durability and resiliency
    • Korea
      • Smart grids to distribute sustainable and renewable energy
      • GND officially endorsed by federal govt
        • We can not go on like it was before.
          • Short term recovery measures must be in line with out long-term ecological interests
        • Decarbonization
          • Green innovation
          • Job creation
        • Three main pillars
          • Eco-friendly and smart infrastructure
          • Low-carbon energy infrastructure
            • Increasing renewable power capacity
            • Phasing out coal and other non-sustainable power sources
              • Ten coal plants closed already with six more scheduled to close
          • Green manufacturing
      • Covid reveals how fragile the existing economic systems are. This should be taken as a warning, since the climate disaster is going to be so much worse than covid.
    • Nigeria
      • It is now cheaper to provide sustainable energy versus unsustainable energy
    • Rwanda
      • Significantly increased their ambitious plans for SDG progress
      • Established covid economic recovery fund
        • Based on climate resilience strategy and action plan
      • Investing in climate action can accelerate covid recovery
    • Jamaica
      • Committed to establish low-carbon economic recovery from covid
      • Sustainable investments in renewable energy sector
      • Climate finance needs to be more accessible and more available
  6. How do the SDGs fit into the solutions?
    • Countries can choose to double down on the polluting and inefficient economic strategies of the past or choose sustainable alternatives as articulated by the SDGs?



  • The Green New Deal: Putting the climate at the heart of global policy – Jeremy Rifkin (9 minutes)
    • Animal and insect populations under threat around the world
    • Sea levels rising
    • Planet getting hotter because of fossil fuels
    • It’s not too late to change course
    • GND: Fossil fuel economy will collapse by 2028
      • GND is an aspirational document
      • Patterned after the new deal of the 1930s.
        • Roosevelt initiated massive programs to get people back to work
      • GND helps us move quickly out of a fossil fuel economy in order to avoid mass extinctions
        • We are on course to lose half the species on earth within the century.
    • Renewable solar energy is now cheaper than the other energy sources
      • This means a widespread economic collapse will happen in the energy sector because the capital invested in obsolete polluting energy sources is going to move to sustainable alternatives like solar
    • Every region and community needs to locally implement GND principles in order to move into the new era of sustainable energy production and consumption
    • Long-term equity (pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, etc.) moving out of bad bets on fossil fuels is a hugely powerful force for change.
    • Small sustainable pilot projects need to expand to huge widespread projects
      • This will allow long-term equity bets to move into these projects in a big way.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Breaks Down What the Green New Deal Really Is (5 minutes)
    • A proposed resolution or vision statement about building a sustainable future through investments in better alternatives to the status quo
      • This would inspire separate legislation to address each of the smaller ideas.
    • Affordable housing
    • Homelessness
    • Free education for all


Class Discussion

  • Played video of spoken word poem
    • If the lifespan of the earth is a day then humans have existed for three seconds and in that time basically wrecked everything, destroyed the environment, and initiated an extermination of the population including ourselves.
  • GND is the first attempt to meet the scale of the challenges of the climate crisis
    • Justice, equity, jobs, etc
    • Advocates for large government investments in programs and projects to resolve the crisis
  • The long-term actuarial perspective of institutional capital from sources like pension funds can be a powerful force for change through green investments in renewable energy, sustainability, and resilience in the developing world.

USP 514 Session 13 Notes

November 9th 
Session Thirteen: Cost Benefit Analysis and Precautionary Principle 

REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION THIRTEEN (click on Session 13 on left side to access reading)


  1. Pricing the Priceless (this is a legal article so you may have to review it several times

    • Cost-benefit analysis is a deeply flawed method that repeatedly leads to biased and misleading results
      • offers no clear advantages in making regulatory policy decisions and often produces inferior results, in terms of both environmental protection and overall social welfare, compared to other approaches
    • Proponents of cost-benefit analysis make two basic arguments in its favor.
      • First, use of cost-benefit analysis ostensibly leads to more “efficient” allocation of society’s resources by better identifying which potential regulatory actions are worth undertaking and in what fashion
      • Second, the use of discounting systematically and improperly downgrades the importance of environmental regulation.
      • Third, cost-benefit analysis ignores the question of who suffers as a result of environmental problems and, therefore, threatens to reinforce existing patterns of economic and social inequality.
      • Finally, cost-benefit analysis fails to produce the greater objectivity and transparency promised by its proponents
    • While economists have spent three decades wrangling about how much a human life, or a bald eagle, or a beautiful stretch of river, is worth in dollars, ecologists, engineers, and other specialists have gone about the business of saving lives and eagles and rivers, without waiting for formal, quantitative analysis proving that saving these things is worthwhile.
  2. The Precautionary Principle Puts Value First, Nancy Meyer
    • Professor definition: if the producer is not able to prove that no one will be harmed occurs in the process of their activity, then they may not proceed.
    • potential harm, scientific uncertainty, and precautionary action
    • The Wingspread Statement went on to define three additional components of the principle’s application: In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed, and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action


Group Discussion

  • Cost benefit analysis
    • Define cost benefit analysis
      • A method/methodology for making decisions by weighing pros and cons, strengths and benefits, strengths and weaknesses but always prioritizes the economic considerations beyond all other considerations.
        • In fact, cost-benefit analysis is incapable of delivering what it promises. First, cost-benefit analysis cannot produce more efficient decisions because the process of reducing life, health, and the natural world to monetary values is inherently flawed
      • Cost-benefit analysis tries to mimic a basic function of markets by setting an economic standard for measuring the success of the government’s projects and programs. That is, cost-benefit analysis seeks to perform, for public policy, a calculation that markets perform for the private sector.
      • An attempt to attach a price to solving a social or environmental problems.
      • Good
        • Homelessness: it’s much cheaper to give them houses instead of leaving them on the street.
        • Domestic violence: it’s much cheaper to give them housing so they can split up instead of leaving them together.
      • Bad
        • We can’t always know the costs and benefits. For example what is the future value of an acre of rainforest and how do we weigh it against the alternative developments that could happen there
        • Utilitarianism debunked
          • Different groups value costs and benefits differently, so they can’t necessarily balance the costs and benefits across identities.
          • Dangerous lead levels change to accommodate whatever the lead levels are so that no one has to do anything about them.
        • Wind is expensive to set up, but better in the long-term there are huge advantages over the alternatives
        • Difficult to see a profit motive for solving covid
          • It may be that only the wealthy will get the vaccine and the treatments
        • The failures of cost benefit analyses are often based on the failure of capitalism to solve problems that don’t have a clear profit motive or clearly quantifiable costs and benefits.
    • Discuss problems and benefits with cost benefit
      • If it was cheaper to solve problem instead of not solving problems, then why would there be any problems?
      • Using cost as a measure of harm does not account for all the ways that harms happen.
      • Actuarial perspective
      • reinforce existing patterns of economic and social inequality
      • We can’t really know all the costs in many cases
  • Professor said we should be thinking conceptually rather than theoretically or practically
  • The concepts we are talking about today are competing methodologies for decision making
  • Precautionary principle: designed to address the problems of cost-benefit analysis from the opposite perspective
    • Accepts risk as a natural, unavoidable part of decision making
      • If we don’t remove the contaminated soil and kids get sick, that’s the cost of doing nothing
      • If we fight a war for oil, the cost is the lives of soldiers, chaos in developing nations, etc
    • Potential harm
    • Scientific uncertainty
    • Precautionary action


USP 514 Session 12 Notes

November 2nd and 4th  
Session Twelve: Sustainable Urban Energy Management


This session will focus on the approaches, policies, and practices we can promote sustainable energy management and use. The discussion will be guided by the following questions:

  1. What are the major characteristics of energy?
    • Energy: the ability to do work
    • Energy sources
      • Human energy – both within and without the body
      • Animal energy – both within and without the body
      • Fossil fuels: remains of organic material that has died and been buried under pressure for millions of years.
        • Petroleum: mostly used for transportation
        • Coal: mostly used outside transportation
        • Gas: mostly used outside transportation
      • Hydro/ Hydroelectric
      • Nuclear
        • Fission
        • Fusion
      • Solar
        • Thermal
        • Voltaic
      • Wind
      • Plants
        • Bioremediation
        • Biomass
        • Biogas
      • Geothermal
      • Tidal power
    • Embodied energy: all the energy involved in doing work (cradle to cradle)
    • In the pre-industrial period, biomass was a main source of energy for the world
      • Cooking
      • Heating
      • Transportation
      • Manufacturing
      • Extractive activities, consumptive activities, waste activities
    • Why did fossil fuels become popular?
      • Fossil fuels are reliable
        • Biomass burns at unpredictable temperatures
        • Hydro is also unpredictable as a direct energy source
        • Huge government subsidies
      • Fossil fuels are profitable
      • Example of glass blowers in Moreno in 14th century Venice switching from biomass to coal and doing more work but creating more pollution.
    • Coal is transported by rail
  2. What energy sources are used to provide energy in cities?
    • Petroleum for transportation
    • Fossil fuels like gas and biomass for heat
    • Some solar and wind
  3. What do we mean by the concept “renewable energy”?
  4. What energy systems and technologies are considered “renewable” and why are they considered renewable?
    • Wind
    • Solar
    • Hydroelectric
    • These are considered to be renewable because the externalities are largely priced in, and the sources work for a long time without producing additional harms once they are in place.
  5. What economic and social policies would need to be implemented to promote widespread use of renewable energy?
    • Government subsidies need to change to support renewable energy instead of non-renewable energy
    • Political support for corporate accountability
    • Infrastructure
    • Research and development
    • Trade policies to support materials and manufacturing related to the production of renewable energy sources
    • Reduce consumption and increase efficiency
  6. Which countries are at the forefront of using renewable energy; what can we learn from these countries?
    • Norway, France, Denmark, China, Iceland, Germany, Holland, Sweden
    • We should install renewable sources and use policies that encourage renewable energy consumption in transportation, manufacturing, and other energy consumption sectors
  7. How can professionals promote sustainable energy management and use?
    • Transitioning to renewables can have a harmful impact
      • Our consumption is very high, while many developing nations have very low consumption. We need both groups to move towards a more sustainable central level of consumption. So developing nations need to consume more in order to reach a parity of living conditions while developed nations need to consume less.
      • Infrastructure investments for developing nations to help them skip ahead and adopt better alternatives to fossil fuel energy sources
    • Job training
      • For example for workers to stop working on coal and start working on solar


Other Notes

  • The global south is largely not electrified
  • In non-electrified areas, open fires use biomass for cooking, heat, manufacturing
    • The smoke people are exposed to can be equivalent to six packs of cigarettes per day
      • Respiratory diseases are a far more serious threat because of this
  • Around the world, the industrialization of developing nations has given wealth benefits to the elites and health harms to the common people
  • Infrastructure is often funded by international banks
    • Bonds are a good alternative funding source for infrastructure which allows them to avoid the political and economic interference from the international banking system



(click on Session 12 on left side to access reading)

  1. Alternative Urban Futures: Chapter Three
    • Energy
      • World Energy Mix
    • Environmental and Social Impacts of Fossil Fuel Dependency
      • Coal
      • Indigenous Perspectives of Drilling for Oil on Native Land
      • The Fossil Fuel Regime
    • Green Building and Design
      • Appropriate Technologies
        • Energy Efficiency
          • Energy efficient lighting
          • Energy efficient appliances
          • Occupancy sensors
          • Heat efficiency
          • Daylighting
        • Heating and Ventilation
          • Insulation
          • Programmable thermostats
          • Proper ventilation
        • Solar
          • Solar hot water heating pumps
          • Photovoltaic systems
          • Passive solar heating
        • Water
          • Rainwater catchment systems
          • Gray water recovery systems
          • Indoor water conservation
        • Landscaping
          • Xeriscaping
          • Landscaping for energy conservation
          • Pervious material
        • Reduce, reuse, recycle
        • Reused materials
        • Lumber
        • Recycling wastes
        • Local manufacturing
        • Compost systems
      • Improving household biomass systems
    • Renewable energy
      • Wind energy
      • Solar photovoltaic
      • Solar thermal

USP 514 Session 11 Notes

October 26th and 28th 
 Session Eleven: Sustainable Urban Transportation Management
This session will examine a range of issues critical to sustainable urban transportation. We will examine case studies of Curitiba, Brazil and Bogata, Columbia transportation systems. We will be guided by the following questions.

  1. What are basic characteristics of urban transportation systems?
    • Mobility
    • Some relationships are backwards of what might seem intuitive
      • More industrialized countries often have less transit options
      • Less industrialized countries often have more transit options
      • More industrialized countries are more responsible for climate change while being less impacted by climate change
      • Less industrialized countries are less responsible for climate change while bearing a greater share of the impact
    • Transportation is the movement of people, goods, and services.
    • Modes
      • Biking
      • Walking
      • Busses
      • Trains
      • Cars
      • Light rails
      • Animals: horses, donkeys, oxen, camels, elephants, dogs, llamas
      • Airplanes
    •  Sustainable
      • Busses
      • Trains
      • Light rail
    • Unsustainable
      • Cars
      • Airplanes
    • Good transportation is:
      • Affordable
      • Sustainable
      • Efficient
      • Accessible
      • Safety
      • Reliable
      • Clean
      • Convenient
      • Connected
      • Working conditions for workers should be good
    • US transportation systems are:
      • Mixed ownership public/private
      • Car centered
      • Unsafe
      • Polluting
      • Fossil fuel dominated
      • Unreliable
      • Disconnected
      • Inefficient
    • Transit: the movement of people
      • Busses, trains, light rail can carry more people than cars in the same space
      • Working conditions for workers should be good
    • Why do people use cars
      • Mobility
      • Accessibility
      • More control and autonomy
        • Destination
        • Music
        • Temperature
      • Perception that it’s faster
      • Perception that it’s cheaper
    • Transit needs to compete with these features
  2. What are the environmental and social impacts of fossil fuel dependency in the transit sector?
  3. Are all social groups affected equally?
  4. What can be done to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in the transit sector?
  5. How can mass transit, bicycling, and walking be promoted in urban transit systems?
  6. How can transportation professionals promote sustainable transportation policies and practices?
    • brt vs rail
    • alleged limitations of progressive ticket pricing
  7.  Transit oriented development
    • people use cars less because land use is planned so that housing and work are located near transit
    • Fruitvale is the best example in the bay
    • High density mixed use adjacent to transit
    • BRT came in to make it even better
  8. What does “connectivity” look like?
    • It’s more important to connect people to where they need to go rather than just connecting modalities and hoping people can get where they need to go
  9. How are transportation projects envisioned, funded, and developed in us compared to Western Europe, Japan, S Korea, others
    • In the past, people were working closer to where they worked.
    • Many large cities had widespread excellent transit systems
    • Federal policy and the tire industry have historically worked to dismantle the transit systems and forced people into cars
    • 80% of american transportation spending goes to car infrastructure
    • 20% of american transportation spending goes to transit infrastructure
    • Most developed countries have the opposite mix
    • Transportation projects are envisioned, funded, and developed in the us to advance the power of the car at the expense of walking, biking, and transit.
    • Strong-mayor acts prevented cars from entering business districts in curitiba by installing barriers overnight and occupying streets with children to prevent cars from driving through
      • Similar things happening in the Castro
  10. How do we move people out of cars and onto transit
    • brt vs rail
    • alleged limitations of progressive ticket pricing
    • ride apps are displacing transit to destinations like the airports
    • pricing is important but it’s not the primary factor people are paying attention to when they decide whether to use transit
    • Policies are successful based on incentives or penalties
      • Incentives
        • Reliability
        • Safety
        • Accessibility
        • Quality of ride
        • Incentives from workplaces, institutions
        • Alternatives to the car
      • Penalties
        • Cost of owning and using a car
        • Cost of parking
        • Fines and fees are high
        • Gas prices are high in most of the developed world outside of the us
  11. What are the implications of people working from home on transit?
    • More drivers
    • Transit systems in crisis


REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION ELEVEN (click on Session 11 on left side to access reading)

  • Alternative Urban Futures: Chapter Four
    • Transportation
      • Transportation patterns in developing countries
      • Transportation patterns in industrialized countries
    • Environmental and social impacts of automobile dependency
      • How the transportation infrastructure promotes and supports automobile use
      • Problems with automobile sustainability
    • Sustainable urban transportation planning
      • Increasing mass transit options and mass transit ridership
        • Mass transit in developing countries
      • Increasing the role of bicycles
        • Planning to increase bicycle use in Japanese cities
        • Planning to increase bicycle use in Western European cities
        • Increasing the role of workbikes and bicycle rickshaws
          • Cycle rickshaws
      • Creating pedestrian-friendly infrastructures
      • Alternative automotive systems, fuels, and designs
        • Alternative ownership
        • Alternative fuel vehicles and energy sources
        • Alternative vehicle designs
  • Vast New Bay Area Bike-Share Program Is Everywhere … Except Deep East OaklandAshley Wong, East Bay Express July 15, 2017
    • Bike share programs extend throughout the bay area
      • They are not present in East Oakland.
    • They say it’s because of a lack of proximity to transit, jobs, and services.
    • There is a history of equity problems for bike share programs in the area



Curitiba Rapid Bus System (14 minutes)

    • Discussion
      • Functions more like a rail system than a bus system
      • Transit is used to address issues of social inequality
      • Affordable, progressive pricing with priority given to the poor
      • External land use design
    • Installed a 100% bus public transit system
      • Stops every 400 meters
      • BRT arterials
        • Fares are paid before passengers board busses
          • Busses only stop for an average of 15-19 seconds
    • There are plans to install a future subway arterial line
    • 80% of travelers use the bus system
      • 70% of commuters
    • Bus fare is the same no matter how far you have to travel
    • Busses have special lanes so they avoid traffic
    • Land use policies require increasing density along brt lines rather than sprawling out

Streetfilms-BRT Transmilenio (Bogotá, Colombia) (7 minutes)

    • Just a description of what BRT is
      • Elevated stations where busses pull up
      • People have already paid before they get on the platform so they just walk in and the bus leaves.
      • BRT busses have special lanes

How to use Transmilenio, the massive transport system in Bogotá? RCN news in English´s video (3 minutes) ––seUQXyfLE

    • This person explains how to take a bus by buying a ticket, reading the signs, and taking the correct bus
    • There is also a transfer to another bus
    • There are plans to eventually add subway and lightrail

E2. (2007). Bogota: Building a Sustainable City. (25:45) –

We already watched this video in this same class and answered questions about it so I’ll just paste that here;

    • What are the main themes in this video?
      • Rapid unplanned urban growth leads to social problems
      • Adding population without adding infrastructure and planning to support the additional population will result in a lower quality of life and an increase in social problems in the city.
      • Reclaiming public space
    • What were the major issues raised in this video?
      • If you don’t plan your city, it will not be a good city for people.
      • Transpiration and transit
      • Giving public spaces like sidewalks back to people instead of cars
      • Giving water, sewage, and health to the extremely poor before giving it to car culture for the rich.
    • What strategies were used to address urban problems in Bogata?
      • Planning
      • Sustainable urban design as a foundation for social justice
      • The planners used tactics like color and diction to make the new bus system “sexy.”
        • They tried to get people to say they are “taking the trans-millenial” rather than “taking the bus.”
      • Smaller trunk lines feed the main lines so allow a larger area to access the bus system
      • Satellite connections between buses means the system can be efficiently managed to meet its maximum capacity, redirecting resources where they are needed most in real time.
      • Getting cars off the sidewalks was initially a controversial position
      • They built a pedestrian road through the poorest parts of the city with sewage and water pipes underneath, displacing open sewers with new healthy spaces for people to move through the city.
        • The longest pedestrian road in Latin America
        • This connects the transit systems and the schools and libraries to the people, becoming a cultural commentary and statement about the priorities of the city
        • There was a huge shift in social problems after this was built, with the most dangerous parts of the city becoming safe, and social problems going away.
    • Why does Mayor Penolosa of Bogata believe that sustainable urban design a foundation for social justice?
      • (3:15-5:20) He seemed to argue for broken windows theory; that people will decide what kind of life to have based on their surroundings, and so eliminating the negative cues about the kind of neighborhoods you have will cause people to choose to live in a better way. He said this gave people more self esteem which solved urban social problems.
      • He riffed for a while and seemed to argue that living in America inspired him to believe that a lassaiz-faire capitalism will eventually solve many social problems. He specifically argued that socialism is bad in contrast on this point.
      • He specifically claims (6:30) that restricting car use on some roads during certain times and allowing bikes to use the roads instead is “the seed” of social progress towards the new Bogota.
      • If you spend all your money building freeways then you have no money left for parks and schools
      • If you have a limited amount of money, it can’t all go to car culture which benefits only a few
    • What did you learn from this video?
      • The bus system was previously a mafia business in Bogota, and later became a city program.
        • The new system was based on the Curitiba bus system: “The best bus system in the world.”
      • It was interesting to hear his Penolosa’s thoughts on the idea of restricting cars being the seed of sustainable urban development.

USP 514 Session 10 Notes

October 19th and 21st
Session Ten: Sustainable Urban Waste Management

This session will focus on the approaches, policies, and practices that can promote sustainable waste management and resource recovery. We will be guided by the following questions.

Waste is unwanted material intentionally thrown away for disposal.

  1. What are the basic characteristics of waste as it relates to urban waste management issues?
    • Solid vs liquid
    • Organic vs inorganic
    • Human activities
      • Agriculture, husbandry
      • Energy sources
      • Water collection and use
      • Building shelters and buildings
      • Making tools and other objects for cultural, industrial and spiritual reasons
      • Conflict and warfare
    • Production of products with toxic materials
  2. What waste management systems and technologies have been developed by planners in the “industrialized world”?
    • Landfills
    • Recycling
    • Composting
  3. What are the environmental and social impacts of these waste management systems and technologies?
    • The waste stream has become much more toxic
    • Accumulation of toxics in the waste stream
      • Toxins like dioxin are now in the breast milk of every woman on earth.
    • Accumulation of inorganic material in the waste stream
  4. What alternative systems and technologies can be put into place? 
    • We have to move from a waste management approach to a resource recovery approach. (“Because approach is the highest level”)
      • Composting: 40% of the waste in landfills is food waste
      • Ashes
      • Cans and bottles
      • Electronics recycling
      • Thrift stores
    • Cradle to grave vs cradle to cradle
    • RRRR: Reduce, reuse, recycle, rot
    • Up-cycling, down-cycling
  5. How viable are these alternatives?
    • These alternatives are extremely viable
    • They are used throughout Europe
  6. How can waste management professionals promote sustainable waste management and use?


REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION TEN (click on Session 10 on left side to access reading)

  1. Alternative Urban Futures: Chapter Two
    • Solid waste
    • Environmental and social aspects of conventional solid waste disposal approaches
      • Open pit dumping and burning
      • Landfills
      • Sanitary landfills
      • Incineration
    • Sustainable solid waste management and planning
      • Creating a sustainable materials economy
      • Materials management and resource recognition
        • Pollution prevention and producer responsibility
      • Waste disposal taxes and refund deposit strategies
      • Subsidies and incentives
      • Reprocessing/ Materials exchange
      • Household and small business waste reduction and recycling
      • Household waste collection in informal settlements
      • Individual recycled material collectors
    • A cautionary word about recycling
      • Reducing organic waste accumulation: composting



  1. Story of Stuff –
    • Resource economy is a linear process with many open loops, therefore not sustainable.
    • 1/3 of our initial natural resources are now gone.
    • Less than 4% of natural forests remain in the US.
    • 5% of the word’s population lives in the US
      • US uses 30% of the world’s resources
      • US creates 30% of the world’s waste
    • 80% of the planets forests are now gone
    • 75% of fisheries are fished over their capacity
    • Distribution: Keep price down, keep people buying, keep inventory moving
    • Externalized cost: the real cost are not how much we buy it. people in extraction use their natural resources to pay
    • Consumption(golden key.) they have designed to make consumers buy more
      • Planned obsolescence: products designed to fail so you have to buy a new one
      • Perceived obsolescence: New products designed to look new; creating social pressure for others to buy new things
      • Extraction, Production, Distribution all work for this
    • National happiness is going down while consumption is going up
    • We have less leisure time than at any point since feudal society
    • Disposal: They burn the garbage you make and pollute to the air
    • Recycling is good
      • Reduces waste and reduces inputs
      • Much of the garbage can’t be recycled because it’s toxic or it’s designed to be impossible to recycle (ie tetra-packs)
    • One can of trash in front of your house means 71 cans of trash upstream in order to make the stuff in your one can of trash
  2. Impact of Mining Activities in Africa and the Anthropocene, Against the Grain 10/23/18



  1. Go to “What a Waste: Solid Waste Management to 2050″
  2. Read the report 
  3. Choose 3 case studies from the report (see list below) and be prepared to discuss them in class  


Case Studies

  1. A Path to Zero Waste in San Francisco, United States 141
  2. Achieving Financial Sustainability in Argentina and Colombia 143
  3. Automated Waste Collection in Israel 147
  4. Cooperation between National and Local Governments for Municipal Waste Management in Japan 148
  5. Central Reforms to Stabilize the Waste Sector and Engage the Private Sector in Senegal 151
  6. Decentralized Organic Waste Management by Households in Burkina Faso 152
  7. Eco-Lef: A Successful Plastic Recycling System in Tunisia 153
  8. Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes in Europe 155
  9. Financially Resilient Deposit Refund System: The Case of the Bottle Recycling Program in Palau 158
  10. Contents of What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 vii
  11. Improving Waste Collection by Partnering with the Informal Sector in Pune, India 161
  12. Improving Waste Management through Citizen Communication in Toronto, Canada 163
  13. Managing Disaster Waste 165
  14. Minimizing Food Loss and Waste in Mexico 167
  15. Sustainable Source Separation in Panaji, India 170 15. Musical Garbage Trucks in Taiwan, China 173
  16. The Global Tragedy of Marine Litter 174
  17. Using Information Management to Reduce Waste in Korea

USP 514 Session 9 Notes

October 12th and 14th
Session Nine: Sustainable Urban Water Management
This session will focus on the approaches, policies, and practices that can promote sustainable water management and use.



  1. Write down all the ways in which you used water on the day you did this assignment. Remember to include all of the activities you engaged in, the food you ate, the infrastructures and technologies you relied on. Be prepared to discuss your list in class.
    • Drinking
    • Food
      • Production
      • Distribution
      • Manufacturing
      • Distribution
    • Shower
    • Toilet
  2. Watch the Video: The Future of Water: Dr Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy at TEDxUSF
    • Dr Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy
    • Sri Lanka Tsunami 2004
    • Hometown badly affected
    • Went back to help them recover; specializing in water and sanitation services
    • Inspired by cultural and spiritual connection with water
      • From Sri Lanka where water is sacred and loved
      • Water service is unreliable
      • People must collect as much water as possible whenever it comes
    • Principled approach to doing more with less as a matter of survival
      • Water reuse: Drinking/Vegetable washing -> clothes -> washing floor -> watering plants
    • Custodial relationship with water
    • Toilets can use water from hand washing to flush
    • Class Takeaway Principles
      1. Doing more with less, every drop is valuable, no water is wasted, all water is reused
      2. Use water as many times as possible
      3. All water is good water, match quality of water with its intent and purpose


Discussion Questions

  1. What are basic characteristics of water as it relates to urban water management issues?
    • Inequitably distributed around the planet
    • Fresh or salinated
    • Fresh water is located
      • On the surface
      • Under the earth in aquifers
    • Once fresh water is salinated, it is no longer fresh
    • Water travels with gravity
    • Water can evaporate
    • Water can evaporate and then precipitate
    • Locations of water
      • 97% is salinated
      • 2% is locked in ice
      • 1% is available as fresh water
    • Water absorbs materials including toxins
  2. What are the impacts of urbanization and industrialization on natural waterways? For example, the cutting down of forests for logging, industrial agriculture, livestock industries, development of urban sewage systems, etc. 
    • Sewage runoff pollutes water
    • Pesticide use contaminates aquifers
    • Changes the flow of water or blocks the flow of water
      • Makes the water inaccessible
        • LA river is concreted
      • Over drilling of wells to
      • Pumped storage causes earthquakes
    • Changing water sources has a negative long-term impact on floodplains, agricultural land, flora, and fauna
    • Creates dead zones
    • Salinate fresh water
    • Increase the price of water
    • Fracking causes earthquakes
    • Sinkholes are created when aquifers are drained
      • I did not know that once aquifers are depleted by hydraulic pumping, they collapse and then they are not able to be filled again. The water capacity of the aquifer drops by half or more.
    • Deprive populations of their access to water
    • We fight wars about water
      • Turkey vs Greece
      • Israel vs Palestine
      • US vs Mexico
  3. How can we increase efficiency and conservation of water?
  4. What alternative water management systems and technologies are available to deal with commercial water use and sewage?
    • Treatment plants
    • Closed loops
  5. What can we learn from existing examples (case studies) of sustainable water management?
  6. What would a sustainable water management strategy look like?
    • We have to stop industrial agrculture
  7. How can water professionals promote sustainable water management and use?



    1. Alternative Urban Futures: Chapter One
    2. The Human Right to Water, at Last 
      • One of these global failures was the failure to acknowledge a formal human right to water.
        • There is a formal international human right to life, to human health, to an adequate standard of living, to adequate food, and more. But until a few weeks ago, there was no formal human right to water.
      • On September 24th, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a binding resolution that, “Affirms that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living and inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as the right to life and human dignity”
      • Here are four reasons why it is a good idea:
        1. Acknowledging such a right will encourage the international community and individual governments to renew their efforts to meet basic human needs for water for their populations.
        2. By acknowledging such a right, pressures to translate that right into specific national and international legal obligations and responsibilities are much more likely to occur.
        3. This clear declaration will help maintain a spotlight of attention on the deplorable state of water management in many parts of the world.
        4. Finally, explicitly acknowledging a human right to water can help set specific priorities for water policy, which is often fragmented, uncoordinated, and focused on providing more water for some people, rather than some water for all people.
      • What is needed now is to develop appropriate tools and mechanisms to achieve progressively the full realization of these rights, including appropriate legislation, comprehensive plans and strategies for the water sector, and financial approaches.
      • I do not think that finally meeting basic needs for water and sanitation will occur just because there is finally a clear acceptance of a legal human right to water and rules for what governments must do to progressively realize those rights.
    3. Water Privatization: The case against
      • Everyone should have access to water. South Africa’s Bill of Rights states that every citizen has a right to water.
      • Privatisation poses a threat to that commitment because once privatised, water will no longer be provided on the basis of need but on the ability to pay
      • Many poor people in South Africa simply cannot afford to pay for water.
      • Privatised water means less democratic control. Privatisation removes water from public control thus robbing citizens of their democratic say over how this important resource is used.
      • Job losses and attacks on worker rights also accompany privatization.
      • Private companies will not take over water systems serving poorer communities living far from city centers and water pipes.
      • They always choose the most profitable and thus pick the juiciest cherry leaving the local public authorities to carry the burden of the poor while they laugh all the way to the bank.


    Case Studies

    1. A Path to Zero Waste in San Francisco, United States 141
      • prohibited the use of styrofoam and polystyrene foam in food service (2006)
      • required mandatory recycling for construction debris (2007),
      • banned plastic bags in drugstores and supermarkets (2009),
      • implemented mandatory recycling and composting for both residents and businesses (2009).
      • banned the sale of plastic water bottles in 2014
      • introduced the first and largest urban food waste composting collection program in the United States, covering both the commercial and residential sectors
      • achieved nearly 80 percent waste diversion in 2012—the highest rate of any major city in the United States
    2. Achieving Financial Sustainability in Argentina and Colombia 143
      • Argentina
        • quantified the total cost of its waste system to improve long-term sustainability
        • Under the World Bank–financed Integrated Solid Waste Management Project, the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development (SAyDS)1 developed a tool known as the Integrated Urban Solid Waste Management Economic and Financial Matrix
          • This tool helps municipalities understand the real costs of services and value of investments
          • analyzes each stage of the solid waste management value chain, identifies the proportion of costs recovered by fees, and identifies ways to reallocate budget resources to improve financial sustainability
      • Columbia
        • established a national methodology for determining the maximum service fee that local service providers can charge to users
        • developed a formula that accounts for all costs in every step of the solid waste management system, including urban cleaning and sweeping, collection and transfer, final disposal, leachate management, and recycling
        • Colombia’s success in cost recovery through accounting, legal infrastructure, and institutional commitment can be replicated and adapted to other Latin American countries and regions around the world
    3. Automated Waste Collection in Israel 147
      • Neot Rabin houses the country’s first pneumatic waste collection system, which is also known as an automated vacuum collection (AVAC) system
      • Buildings with AVAC systems use a network of underground pipes to connect each residential unit with a centralized garbage storage unit
      • Garbage placed in these chutes is automatically directed to an underground storage unit
      • Once a week, waste from residential buildings is pumped or vacuumed through a pipe at speeds of between 50 and 80 kilometers per hour to an aggregated storage center
      • waste is transferred to containers that are removed by truck and transported to final disposal sites.
      • AVAC has certain limitations, such as the high initial investment required for establishing the system, operational difficulties when pipes are blocked, workforce training, public willingness to engage in separate disposal, and challenges to collection of bulky and electronic waste
    4. Cooperation between National and Local Governments for Municipal Waste Management in Japan 148
    5. Central Reforms to Stabilize the Waste Sector and Engage the Private Sector in Senegal 151
    6. Decentralized Organic Waste Management by Households in Burkina Faso 152
    7. Eco-Lef: A Successful Plastic Recycling System in Tunisia 153
    8. Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes in Europe 155
    9. Financially Resilient Deposit Refund System: The Case of the Bottle Recycling Program in Palau 158
    10. Contents of What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 vii
    11. Improving Waste Collection by Partnering with the Informal Sector in Pune, India 161
    12. Improving Waste Management through Citizen Communication in Toronto, Canada 163
    13. Managing Disaster Waste 165
    14. Minimizing Food Loss and Waste in Mexico 167
    15. Sustainable Source Separation in Panaji, India 170 15. Musical Garbage Trucks in Taiwan, China 173
    16. The Global Tragedy of Marine Litter 174
    17. Using Information Management to Reduce Waste in Korea

    Class Notes

    • Colonialism and capitalism work together throughout history to allow wealthy and powerful nations to interfere in the internal development of other nations.
      • Water infrastructure development is one exception which usually stays in the area in which it is being developed
    • Example: China in Africa is responsible for most infrastructure development outside of South Africa
      • Extracting and exploiting resources for the benefit of China, and sometimes for local countries
      • China uses its own laborers rather than local laborers to do infrastructure development in Africa
        • This is one major source of new employment in China
        • It also means countries in Africa do not get to develop these technical workforces. Despite having modern infrastructure, they are not themselves able to build and maintain that infrastructure.
    • Civil engineering is designed as the art of redirecting the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man – commanding and controlling nature for the benefit of man.
    • Trade and tariff 1990s timeline
      • 1993 EU formed to collectively match economic power of the US
      • 1994 NAFTA formed to increase power of US by incorporating Mexico & Canada
      • 1995 WTO formed as a world court within the UN at the behest of the US to make decisions about international trade agreements.
    • Technologies are not approaches
      • A rainwater catchment system is a technology, not an approach
      • Solar panels are a technology, not an approach
        • Water reuse is an approach
      • Geothermal is a technology, not an approach
        • Renewable energy is an approach
      • Technologies are not necessarily solutions if they are not implemented as part of a larger framework intended to solve the problem.
    • Approaches
      • => Management strategies
        • => Processes: how to put management strategy into practice
          • => Technologies
    Approaches Management Strategies Processes/ Implementation Technologies
    Sustainability Renewable Power PACE Districts Photovoltaics
    Privatization Structural adjustment Selling off natural resources to corporations Logging
    • Unsustainable water approach
      • Water is an abundant resource
      • Water is renewable
      • Water is a commodity, not a human right
      • Climate change does not affect the water cycle
      • It’s ok to pollute water
      • Pricing allows us to incentivize certain processes
        • Desalination rather than conserving the limited supply of water
    • Sustainable water approach
      • Water is a limited resources
      • Water is not renewable
      • Water should be a human right
      • It’s not ok to pollute water
      • Climate change does affect the water cycle
    • EEE/PPP don’t talk about the economic system
      • Whereas sustainable and unsustainable development both operate within a capitalist framework.
        • Chicago school of economics
        • Neoliberalism



    1. Go to “What a Waste: Solid Waste Management to 2050″
    2. Read the report 
    3. Choose 3 case studies from the report (see list above) and be prepared to discuss them in class  


    USP 514 Session 8 Notes

    October 7th
    Session Eight – Urban Infrastructure 
    This session will focus on the concept and functions of urban infrastructure, and on how infrastructures are designed and managed to deliver water, waste, energy, transportation, building, food, and social services to urban populations. The following questions will guide our discussion.


    1. What is meant by the term “urban infrastructure”?
      • Infrastructure refers to the long-lived engineered structures, equipment, facilities, and services that are used by economic production and by households (World Bank)
        • Long-lived: Maybe more than fifty years.
        • Engineered: using modern industrial technologies.
      • Examples I hadn’t included in assignment 1
        • Parks
        • Post offices
        • Factories
    2. Why is it useful to focus on water, waste, energy, transportation, building and food systems infrastructures as we think about sustainable development?
    3. What are the essential components and achievements of “sustainable” urban infrastructures?
    4. How can cities effectively focus simultaneously on economic development and mitigating the negative impacts of urbanization?
    5. How can ecological and economic considerations be merged in a way that fosters cumulative and lasting advantages for cities?
    6. What specific approaches exist to foster sustainable urban infrastructures? 
    7. What specific appropriate technologies exist to foster sustainable urban infrastructures? 


    REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION EIGHT (click on Session 8 on left side to access reading)

    1. Alternative Urban Futures: Introduction Chapter 
    2. IPPC Climate Change Report, October 2018
    3. The Climate Wrecking Industry and How to Beat It by Jason Mark, The Nation 924/18



    1. Write down all the ways in which you used water on the day you did this assignment. Remember to include all of the activities you engaged in, the food you ate, the infrastructures and technologies you relied on. Be prepared to discuss your list in class.
    2. Watch the Video: The Future of Water: Dr Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy at TEDxUSF



    Infrastructure and Urban Development

    Designing Urban Infrastructure for Today and Tomorrow (46 minutes)

    USP 514 Session 7 Notes

    October 5th  
    Session Seven: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Plans
    This session will focus on how urban administrators have developed approaches to promote sustainable development. The following questions will frame our class discussion.

    1. What are the SDG’s?
      • The SDGs are a uniform set of goals for sustainable development which evolved out of decades of work by teams at the United Nations.
      • The list
        1. No poverty
          • Inability to meet basic needs
          • Shelter, food, health, clothes, transportation, education
        2. Zero hunger
          • Public and private partnerships to feed people
          • More sustainable food production
          • We produce food for people industrially
          • We produce food for animals industrially
          • We produce food for fuels industrially
          • Lots of waste, land
          • We need to rethink the way we are producing grains
          • People need to eat more than grain
            • Fiber
            • Protein
            • Insects
          • Smaller scale agricultural production
          • Food distribution: we need to waste less and distribute more
            • 40% of our food production goes to waste
          • Malthusian arguments about overpopulation are fascist lies. There has always been plenty of food for everyone, and it has always been deliberately withheld in order to increase profits by charging higher prices.
        3. Good health and well-being
          • Healthcare must be free
        4. Quality education
          • Power
          • Resources
          • Curriculum
          • Language accessibility
        5. Gender equality
          • Norms change
          • Access to reproductive resources
          • Giving women economic power
          • Second-wave feminism
        6. Clean water and sanitation
        7. Affordable and clean energy
        8. Decent work and economic growth
        9. Industry , innovation, and infrastructure
        10. Reduced inequality
        11. Sustainable cities and communities
        12. Responsible consumption and production
        13. Climate action
        14. Life below water
        15. Life on land
        16. Peace and justice strong institutions
        17. Partnerships to achieve the goal
          • Public/private
    2. How do the SDGs inform economic development policies and practices in cities?
    3. How can we use the SDGs to create plans and policies that promote sustainable development in cities?


    REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION SEVEN (click on Session 7 on left side to access reading)

    1. Sustainable Development Goals 
    2. Sustainable Development Goals Report (PDF)
    3. Millennium Development Goals Report (PDF) 
    4. Seeing cities as the environmental solution, not the problem



    Watch the 3 videos below and be prepared to discuss the questions in class.

    VIDEO #1 Bogata, Building a Sustainable City – 25 minutes

    1. What are the main themes in this video?
      • Rapid unplanned urban growth leads to social problems
      • Adding population without adding infrastructure and planning to support the additional population will result in a lower quality of life and an increase in social problems in the city.
      • Reclaiming public space
    2. What were the major issues raised in this video?
      • If you don’t plan your city, it will not be a good city for people.
      • Transpiration and transit
      • Giving public spaces like sidewalks back to people instead of cars
      • Giving water, sewage, and health to the extremely poor before giving it to car culture for the rich.
    3. What strategies were used to address urban problems in Bogata?
      • Planning
      • Sustainable urban design as a foundation for social justice
      • The planners used tactics like color and diction to make the new bus system “sexy.”
        • They tried to get people to say they are “taking the trans-millenial” rather than “taking the bus.”
      • Smaller trunk lines feed the main lines so allow a larger area to access the bus system
      • Satellite connections between buses means the system can be efficiently managed to meet its maximum capacity, redirecting resources where they are needed most in real time.
      • Getting cars off the sidewalks was initially a controversial position
      • They built a pedestrian road through the poorest parts of the city with sewage and water pipes underneath, displacing open sewers with new healthy spaces for people to move through the city.
        • The longest pedestrian road in Latin America
        • This connects the transit systems and the schools and libraries to the people, becoming a cultural commentary and statement about the priorities of the city
        • There was a huge shift in social problems after this was built, with the most dangerous parts of the city becoming safe, and social problems going away.
    4. Why does Mayor Penolosa of Bogata believe that sustainable urban design a foundation for social justice?
      • (3:15-5:20) He seemed to argue for broken windows theory; that people will decide what kind of life to have based on their surroundings, and so eliminating the negative cues about the kind of neighborhoods you have will cause people to choose to live in a better way. He said this gave people more self esteem which solved urban social problems.
      • He riffed for a while and seemed to argue that living in America inspired him to believe that a lassaiz-faire capitalism will eventually solve many social problems. He specifically argued that socialism is bad in contrast on this point.
      • He specifically claims (6:30) that restricting car use on some roads during certain times and allowing bikes to use the roads instead is “the seed” of social progress towards the new Bogota.
      • If you spend all your money building freeways then you have no money left for parks and schools
      • If you have a limited amount of money, it can’t all go to car culture which benefits only a few
    5. What did you learn from this video?
      • The bus system was previously a mafia business in Bogota, and later became a city program.
        • The new system was based on the Curitiba bus system: “The best bus system in the world.”
      • It was interesting to hear his Penolosa’s thoughts on the idea of restricting cars being the seed of sustainable urban development.


    VIDEO #2 Top Ten Eco Cities (3 minutes)

    1. What are the main themes in this video?
      • Eco efficiency
      • Create a climate with better biodiversity and use of natural resources
      • Great public transit
    2. What were the major issues raised in this video?
      • Fossil fuels
      • Wasted resources
      • Green spaces
    3. What issues related to sustainable development are left out of this video?
      • Social justice
      • Regenerative design
    4. What did you learn from this video?
      • I had no idea there were so many examples of cities in the US which are doing a good job with sustainable design


    VIDEO #3 Integrating Green Infrastructure into Pittsburg’s Urban Fabric

    1. What are the main themes in this video?
      • Water
      • Sewage
      • Roads
      • Power lines
      • Green spaces
    2. What are the main strategies Pittsburg is using in its green infrastructure efforts?
      • Rebuilding and redesigning the infrastructure in a greener way
      • Moving away from moving the water away as a core strategy
      • They changed the way the sewage runoff worked so that it wasn’t just dumping straight into the river, and instead only going to the river if the new sewage system was overwhelmed. “Interceptor pipe system.”
      • The new plan was to use green spaces as part of the plan to manage storm water rather than combining it with sewage and just dumping everything in the river.
    3. What did you learn about engineering and planning in this video?
      • I was surprised to learn that the original system just dumped the sewage into the river
      • Since the systems were already over capacity and very old, going green meant addressing the current and future needs.
      • It was cool to see the way they designed green spaces to hold storm water and manage it there instead of relying on everything going into the sewers.