Mar 14, 2013
With an ever growing population, the world’s cities are increasingly affecting, and are affected by, natural ecosystems. The sheer number of people give rise to numerous urban and environmental issues, such as biological pathogens, chemical pollutants, physical hazards, depletion of resources, and heat island effects. They pose a real and present threat to the inhabitants of any city, so their solution has to be high priority and involve everybody, from the individual household to the local government.
In order to get the community involved, regular meetings have to be set up first. Initially, these meetings will identify the problems facing the community at present. Each member will be asked for their input, and the responses will be tallied then ranked accordingly. This is necessary because different communities will have different views on which problems are more important to them. For instance, industrial communities would more likely have pollution and waste disposal issues, while residential communities might be more concerned with depletion of resources or health-related problems.
Following this, the meetings will then talk about possible solutions to the problems, how much they will cost, and the community’s available resources for each of those problems. Depending on what they discover at this stage, priorities will be set up, with more feasible proposals taking the top spot. Soliciting help from outside sources (typically funds) will be discussed at this point. If the problem calls for specialized skills (like engineers) which are not available in the community, then the money required for these skills will have to be accounted for.
After determining a feasible target for their efforts, action plans will then be refined. Alternative solutions will be discussed, specific steps in the plans will be evaluated, and delegating duties as well as timelines will also be talked about. It is important that everybody gets some duty or responsibility at this stage, not only to cut down on costs, but to foster a community spirit. To this end, some plans may be initiated in a small scale trial, in order to refine it before going big.
The problems facing an individual community will vary, so the corresponding emphasis on particular solutions will vary as well. However, the general steps will remain the same — identifying the problem, collecting data that will further define the problem and the available resources, setting priorities, and implementing action plans. The starting point will also be the same, which is the local neighborhood. Once everybody is mobilized in an ongoing effort, the local government will be more likely to take notice and perhaps appropriate the necessary solution.