Beatley states in the concluding chapter of the book Native to Nowhere, “…that place-making, community building and sustainability are strongly reinforcing endeavors.” (p. 353). They are all effective and essential weapons to enable people to bravely stand up and take action against both the scale and the numbers of problems facing humanity. First, place-making enables people to commit the own places and to strengthen them. Second, community building empowers individuals and encourages them to unlock their highest potential as a community. Finally, sustainability motivates and vitalizes people, being a collective standard that should be achieved.
In 2008, the global financial crisis occurred which has its roots in the subprime mortgage crisis and bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Eventually, financial capitalism failed as a consequence of excessive globalization. In addition to that, an endless variety of complicated issues, such as climate change and global poverty, are facing humanity. Many more people are overwhelmed and have become paralyzed by both the scale and the number of problems and still remain unable to take any actions, just being depressed about it.
These disastrous results are all derived from lack of place-making, community building and sustainability. Now, intensions made by a few people become the tremendous and out-of-control impacts on this globe. These pressures level down everything as if the numbers of mounds are bulldozed. As a result, the current world’s picture is like monochrome, borderless, and march of sameness in the entire campus. Since people hardly discover uniqueness of their places, they cannot commit their own places. Also, by valuing more individual freedom and privacy, people separate each other at an accelerating pace. Moreover, as I demonstrated in the second paragraph, the current world is unsustainable in the aspects of economy, environment, and social.
By contrast, what is the world based on place-making, community building and sustainability like? Many more people would be included to prevent decisions, which generate unintended results, to be made and to unlock the highest potential as a community at each local place. Then, the world’s art consists of limitless numbers of original small arts that can decorate the entire campus. Since each place is unique, people become to love their own places. Then, people commit their place so they unite to strengthen there, taking advantage of power of a community. As a result, each community can keep its economical, environmental, and social impacts within each realm.
Switching gears to a micro point of view from a macro one, we can realize that many and various actual cases that realize such situations are dotted near ourselves. For example, Columbia Ecovillage is one of the noblest cases. Residents live in the village as a community. They become aware of a growing concern for environment so they try to focus on the place and live there with the minimum ecological footprints. Since the residents use their own knowledge, skills, and fund collectively, the village can aim at becoming a self-sufficient, zero-waste, and non-carbon emission community that is the absolute key to be sustainable, through community building.
Also, we can generate a place that teaches all corners of the globe in new and creative ways. Soka Gakkai Internationa (SGI), the world’s largest and most divers lay Buddhist association, offers a unique opportunity called “small discussion meeting” for every neighbor in the world. The monthly meetings are held in private houses of SGI members. Since SGI has 12 million members in 192 countries and territories, the extensive numbers of the meeting can be held in the world. Diverse people in gender, race, income generation, and occupation in each district come together and tell and share their passions, hopes, and troubles in the place where people trust and care about each other. The meeting would be wonderful opportunity for every neighbor, especially, a new resident to touch the neighbors and the neighborhood, which is the first step for the place commitment.
Now, with the comprehensive exercises at the Community and the Built Environment class, I can design some scenarios of the future for Hiratsuka, my hometown in Japan, based on place-making, community building and sustainability. The city already has many and variable assets for them in it. For example, Komayama-Park, a huge park placed in a nature-abundant hill zone near the Pacific Ocean can be a significant key to attract people in the community. Also, Tanabata festival, an annual big festival in Hiratsuka, offers people to participate and to become the part of the art. Moreover, supporting Shonan Bellmare, a local soccer club team in my hometown, encourages people to unite together and to view them as a community.
Indeed, every person can realize that they have already had treasured assets in each place as demonstrated the above, through my own experiences. Rediscovering these assets would be a starting point for people to develop their place, build their community, and become sustainable economically, environmentally, and socially.