by Dana Bourland

Two of the biggest problems we face today — a shortage of decent, affordable housing and climate change — are connected. Fortunately, the solutions are connected as well. That’s why we must not only “build back better” in the wake of pandemic and recession, but build back greener.

Most housing in the United States is inefficient and expensive to heat and cool. That means high utility bills and higher carbon emissions: residential energy use accounts for a fifth of climate-changing greenhouse gases emitted in the United States.

At the same time, the facilities that produce the power to build and…


by Phil Glynn

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

This month, President Biden announced America’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. It’s an ambitious, eleventh-hour effort to meet our climate goals and stave off catastrophe. Can it succeed? Yes, but only if we follow the lead of Indigenous people — in the U.S. and around the world.

To prevent a climate crisis, we must do two things: 1) keep every possible ton of unreleased CO2 locked where it currently is; and 2) generate every possible joule of energy from renewable sources. Indigenous people are uniquely positioned to lead on both fronts.

Even though billions in…


by Ilana Preuss

When community leaders in Columbia, Missouri, first set out to revitalize The Loop, the prospects felt daunting. This stretch of Highway 40 serves as the entrance to Columbia but has been neglected for decades. Local small businesses were few, and struggling.

Leaders organized conversations with neighbors to understand what types of businesses were currently in the region, what the community wanted, and how this effort could contribute to broader city priorities. They soon learned that one particular type of business held an uncommonly powerful potential to support transformation.

Small-scale manufacturers like Claysville Creations and Heartland Soapworks were selling products online…


by Laurie Mazur

For many in the public housing realm, the arts and culture are nice-to-have amenities — a mural painted on a newly constructed building, perhaps, or a concert in a courtyard.

But at Yesler Terrace, a 30-acre public housing development near downtown Seattle, arts and culture play a more central role. Since 2015, the Seattle Housing Authority has worked to integrate arts and culture into Yesler’s ambitious redevelopment plan. Five years in, this approach has produced tangible benefits for the people served by the housing authority.

Yesler Terrace boasts a rich history, as well as a vibrant, diverse community. Completed in…


by Claire Latané

During the pandemic, schools across the country turned themselves inside out, holding classes outdoors to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. And now that vaccination is driving down transmission rates, school administrators are eager to get students back in the classroom.

But disease prevention is just one of many reasons to educate kids outdoors. As we invest in pandemic recovery and infrastructure, we should make sure all students have access to nature-filled outdoor spaces.

Consider the experience of Portland, Maine, one of the country’s first public school districts to develop a district-wide outdoor learning program in response to COVID-19. …


by Dan Kaplan

As the vaccine rolls out and we emerge from social distancing and suspended animation to survey the wreckage, it would be a mistake to return to “normal.” The pandemic has brought into sharp relief social inequalities and environmental vulnerabilities in our cities; both are in deep need of repair and reimagination.


by Jacqueline Patterson

As the United States lays out its climate plans, here’s 12 false climate solutions, faulty patterns, and harmful omissions to avoid.

Recently, I had the opportunity to advise a wealthy individual on their personal giving. I spent a considerable amount of time providing a written memo on how to support grassroots-led efforts to address climate change. But when the resulting plan was made public, I read it with horror. Evidently, in my extensive guidance on what to do, my recommendations lacked clarity on what not to do.

Now, I’ve fielded many requests to weigh in on the Biden-Harris administration’s climate…


by Abigail Hart

It’s now clear that we’re heading into another year of drought, though we’ve barely recovered from the last one. But we don’t need to repeat the water management mistakes of the past. Today, we can implement a new set of solutions that can help us manage our land and water sustainably into the future.

It’s clear that drought will be a recurring theme in that future. And each time a drought arrives, our water system is stretched to the breaking point. Historically, we’ve relied on aquifers to provide up to 60% of our water during drought years. But now even…


by Jennie Stephens and Kevin Surprise

As the Biden-Harris administration advances an all-of-government approach to the worsening climate crisis, we need to acknowledge that not all proposed climate solutions should be advanced. Solar geoengineering, a controversial proposed set of technologies that could potentially cool the planet by reflecting incoming sunlight back to space, used to be on the fringes of climate policy.

But with the recent release of a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) that recommends hundreds of millions of dollars be invested to establish a U.S. solar geoengineering research program, this dangerous approach is now being more seriously considered…


by Albert George

For more than a century, Gullah-Geechee people have held fast to their land at the water’s edge on the Sea Islands of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Descendants of chattel slaves from West Africa, generations of Gullah-Geechee have not only survived, but thrived here — nurturing a distinctive culture with deep ties to the African homeland.

Today, the Gullah-Geechee’s hold on the land is loosening. Some threats have been brewing for decades, including the juggernaut of development and a system of property law that is cruelly stacked against them. Now, the rising seas and powerful storms of a warming planet…

Urban Resilience Project

A changing climate means a changing society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project (URP) is committed to a greener, fairer future. www.islandpress.org/URP

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