Andrew Ross’s book Bird on Fire: Lessons from the Least Sustainable City in the World is the talk of the town. And tomorrow night, it will be the subject of a panel discussion put together by the Downtown Voices Coalition called the State of Sustainability Forum.
As I wrote in my article in the Atlantic Cities called In Defense of Phoenix, Ross’s book has raised a lot of ire in our city, whether it’s focused on the author himself who can conveniently go home to New York without offering any solutions after criticizing the place we hold dear in our hearts, or focused on the various people, organizations and institutions that have repeatedly led Phoenix down the unsustainable path that Ross mentions in his book.
But let’s face it, we should be mad. The time has come for us to own up to our mistakes and our predecessor’s mistakes so that we don’t repeat them. It’s time to steer our ship anew, which Ross proves with his painful analysis of Phoenix’s history of social inequity, continuous greed of land expansion and an automatic deference to big business at the expense of everyday people who live here.
Where Ross’s book might leave us upset, depressed, and in despair about our city, it also leaves us with the question – what are we to do next? Should we all pack our bags and leave town for greener pastures? Some are seriously considering it and I don’t blame them for it. But a lot of us have decided to stick it out and bring the greener pastures to us.
Tomorrow night’s forum is one of the first steps to picking up the pieces and forging a new path after Ross’s devastating book. It brings together a diverse group of people who live here and are working towards solutions for a more sustainable Phoenix. The panelists include myself, Ross, Steve Betts with the Urban Land Institute, sustainability consultant George Brooks, former mayor and attorney general Terry Goddard, Phoenix Revitalization Core executive director Eva Olivas, and Silvia Urrutia, director of Housing and Healthcare Finance at Raza Development Fund.
Please join us tomorrow night for this important discussion at 6pm at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center (415 E. Grant Street) if you’re interested in what’s next for Phoenix and what we need to pay attention to to avert the disaster that Ross foresees for our city if we continue with business as usual.Tags: andrew ross, bird on fire lessons from the least sustainable city in the world, downtown voices coalition, phoenix, state of sustainability forum, urban sustainability