Book Reviews

Kirkus Review

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 wideranging 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.

Pacific Book Review

Richard Rogers once wrote, “Architecture is a slow business, and city planning even slower.” Author George Hunt knows this all too well, bringing his years of experience as a city planner into his book, “Toward Self-Sufficiency: A Community for a Transition Period.”

In this book, the author uses his vast knowledge of city planning and tackles topics often overlooked in the field and in these projects. From social and economic hardships in the areas these projects take place in, to environmental concerns and government problems that fail to address important topics that affect our communities (i.e. gun control, global warming, GMO’s in food, etc). The author does a marvelous job of combining his incredible knowledge of the city planning field with the needs of the communities that these projects take place in, using the “pilot project” as an example of examining these community needs and going about integrating them into the project itself.

The author does a great job of outlining the various social needs of the communities involved in the city planning projects. He writes with a command over the subjects being discussed and with a passion that speaks to his desire to see city planning projects become more integrated into the community it’s being built for or a part of.This is the perfect book for anyone with an interest in city planning, design, architecture and community leaders/interested community members who want to learn how to interact with these projects and work together to make something that is sustainable and works well for the community as a whole rather than the individual. As someone who is interested in the social issues raised by the author, it was refreshing to see a former city planner and builder seek a method of addressing these issues so that future generations wouldn’t have to struggle the same way that our current and previous generations had.

This is a must read book for anyone interested in city planning, architecture and social and community building overall. The unique approach to city planning the author took that is meant to help strengthen and build up communities rather than tear them down for the sake of development was an inspired choice, and should encourage a lot of people in the profession to change their approach to these projects in the future. If you haven’t yet grab your copy of this amazing book today!