Lets flash forward 150 years to a classroom near you teaching our future children. Today’s topic is: “Sustainability.”
How will this topic be taught? Will future generations view the early 21st century as a movement, a revolution, or a shift in philosophy? Today we all are aware and understand that a change is taking place. It is an exciting time. So, how will our actions be remembered?
Is it a Movement?
Will the construction left by sustainable development be viewed the same as the City Beautiful movement of the 1890’s and 1900’s? Will today’s William McDonoughs of the world be studied with the same respect as the iconic planner Daniel Burnham and landscape architect Frederick Olmstead?
Is it a Revolution?
Will we view it as a shift in political ideas and possibly label it “The Carbon Revolution,” in the same way we later defined the social-economic Industrial Revolution? Maybe it will be defined as a new revolution where protection of our environment becomes as important a consideration as social and economic issues.
Is it a Philosophy?
Will the ideas of “Green” be compared to American Transcendentalism during the mid 1800’s? Writers like Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau incorporated the idea of nature into a deeply rooted religious New England culture. Will Green be our new spiritual way?
What text will students of the future study to understand the historic roots of sustainability?
Will it be Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring? Or Paul Hawkins Natural Capitalism? Maybe the true academicians will argue that ecologist and environmentalist Aldo Leopold first addressed the forgotten connection to ecology in 1949 with the writing of the Sand County Almanac.
However the 21st century is labeled, as we design our infrastructure we must not design for now, but design for those who will be studying us.