A revised edition of a debut sociology book delivers a strategy for designing sustainable living spaces in the coming decades.
In this work, Hunt argues in favor of a new sustainable form of living, working, and coexisting as the United States transitions to a post-capitalist economy. The author draws on his experience in landscape architecture and community design as well as a wide-ranging bibliography of contemporary texts. The core of his proposal is the “Pilot Demonstration Project,” a mixed-use development that combines efficient housing with work spaces, retail, and community services to meet residents’ needs with minimal use of fossil fuels and serves as a model for the widespread adoption of such sites. In the opening chapters (“the optimistic section of the book”), Hunt goes into great detail explaining the setup and theory behind the PDP (“It includes training for students and adults and a means of teaching people visiting the community how to recognize nature’s natural systems as a means of changing our lifestyle to be more sustainable”). He provides potential developers of such a community ample resources to present to zoning officials. The work’s second section takes a broader look at social theory, the problems of capitalism in its current form, and the many challenges that make the contemporary American lifestyle unsustainable. This part touches on many noteworthy ideas and valid concepts, but it is less focused and more often rambling than the discussion of the PDP. The text moves rapidly from topic to topic, with diversions into technological fearmongering (“If you use mobile technology, you do not have a private life”) and catastrophizing (“Our Failing Society”). Hunt’s arguments are strongest in the more effectively organized chapters of this section, like the ones enumerating the challenges and problems of modern agriculture. The book ultimately presents a case for establishing communities in a PDP format, but is at its best in the early chapters, where it explains the practical details of building and running one.
A thoughtful and singular approach to sustainable development driven by broader arguments about societal change.