The $800 million dollar project is Palestine’s first planned city. It’s called Rawabi, and promises to be developed as green as reasonably possible. In addition to political problems, there are limited resources, especially building materials and access to equipment. The developer is wealthy Palestinian Bashar Al Mashri who believes 50,000 people can begin to live healthy, prosperous lives. Highlights include planing indigenous trees, rainwater reuse, bike lanes, solar panels, etc. Al Mashri discusses his project in the video below. And here’s a very interesting translated interview with him:
Why was it so important to champion environmental principles in the Rawabi project?
Rawabi is built to provide a sustainable place for Palestinians to live and work for generations. The environment here is very fragile, given the shortage of water and challenging topography, and already stressed by urban sprawl and massive illegal Israeli settlement expansion. We understand that if we stress the environment more, it will not be here for our children and grandchildren. Rawabi is pioneering new environmental principles that we hope will be implemented across Palestine and the region.
As Palestine’s first planned city, you have had the opportunity to shape how the city of Rawabi will look. What are the main environmental features of Rawabi and their benefit to the planet and people?
We focused on proven green, liveable design during our two-year master plan process, executed by a team of both international and local urban planners. Rawabi is both walkable and has plenty of green space: over 40% of the city is dedicated to open, green spaces, including pocket gardens/communal courtyards in each neighbourhood. Ample stairways and neighbourhood planning ensure that despite the 45% topographical slope, Rawabi will be walkable. Rawabi will also be the first Palestinian city with bike paths, and will have the first large-scale public park in Palestine, filled with indigenous plants, walking trails, and ways to enjoy and experience nature.
All of Rawabi’s green areas will be irrigated with reclaimed water from the Rawabi Regional Waste Water Treatment Plant, which will also provide water for agriculture for the surrounding villages. Water is very expensive and often difficult for our local farmers to obtain, given political restrictions, so we are glad to be able to help the surrounding community. Rawabi will have comprehensive local and regional public transportation, including electric vehicles. We’re looking at other models that are being implemented around the world, including car or bike sharing, as well.
The political environment that you are constructing Rawabi in is tough. In a recent incident you were forced to uproot JNF trees and replace them with indigenous Palestinian olive trees.
Read the rest of the interview, here.
Good Video on the project:
I did not know that fracking could be used for oil drilling. A slow disaster for future generations. But, it’s hard to argue against it. Imagine suddenly being able to lease your fallow land for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Especially enticing in towns like Catarina that have little money or infrastructure.
This quote from the slide show is telling, ”Oil money just makes life easier,” said Bert Bell, a truck company manager. He bought his wife a new pickup truck after making $525,000 leasing mineral rights around his family’s home and was able to replace retirement savings that had been lost during the recession.”
You just can’t argue with that…
Yikes. 40% risk of separation with long commutes.
Here’s another reason that our sprawled-out suburban development patterns suck. According to a new study out of Sweden, long distance commutes put a major strain on personal and social relationships, and increase the chances of couples splitting up.
The findings indicate that long-distance commuters run a 40 percent higher risk of separating than other people do, and it’s the first years of long-distance commuting that are the most trying for a relationship.
The researcher used data from 1995-2005, and since then there’s been a considerable—if not dominant—shift in the workplace to allow for employees to work from home or remotely. (Actually, I’d be interested to see a long-term study on how working from home impacts personal relationships. There are certainly pros and cons to never leaving the house and to having your office a few feet from the dinner table or bedroom.) But taken alone, this study proves the somewhat obvious case that it’s not good for your personal health or relationship to be sitting in a car for hours on end every day. Environmental sustainability isn’t the only good reason for living close to your work (or working close to your home). There’s also fiscal responsibility and relationship sustainability too.
Source: GOOD/Ben Jervey
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“America, despite its wealth and strength, often seems to be falling apart.” The Economist nails it, showing that a major drag on the US economic outlook is poor condition of our infrastructure, placing blame on the politicians who are an, “embarrassment” “puzzling” “stingy” “calamitous” “inadequate.”
American cities have suffered a rash of recent infrastructure calamities, from the failure of the New Orleans levees to the collapse of a highway bridge in Minneapolis, to a fatal crash on Washington, DC’s (generally impressive) metro system. But just as striking are the common shortcomings. America’s civil engineers routinely give its transport structures poor marks, rating roads, rails and bridges as deficient or functionally obsolete. And according to a World Economic Forum study America’s infrastructure has got worse, by comparison with other countries, over the past decade. In the WEF 2010 league table America now ranks 23rd for overall infrastructure quality, between Spain and Chile. Its roads, railways, ports and air-transport infrastructure are all judged mediocre against networks in northern Europe.