Special Issue "Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 May 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. William D. Shuster
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, Wayne State University, 5050 Anthony Wayne Dr., Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Interests: urban hydrology; urban socio-ecological systems; green infrastructure; urban soils; unsaturated zone hydrology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Audrey L. Mayer
Website
Guest Editor
College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
Interests: landscape ecology; biodiversity conservation; sustainability science; environmental policy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Ahjond S. Garmestani *

Guest Editor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Interests: Social-ecological resilience, sustainability science, environmental law and policy, ecology
* Co-guest edited this Special Issue during 11 March 2015–28 February 2016
Dr. Dustin L. Herrmann
Website
Guest Editor
Environmental Studies Program, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnait, OH 45221, USA
Interests: social-ecological systems; urban sustainability; ecosystem ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We invite you to submit a technical paper on the subject of shrinking cities and how we might transform these cities into sustainable habitations that balance social, economic, and environmental capitals.

Sustainability can be broadly defined as the resilient outcome of the interaction among social equity, economic stability, and environmental quality factors. For example, the utilization of natural resource capitals are constrained by economic forces, and further modulated by social norms and perceptions. Nowhere is this more apparent than in cities, where the social, economic, and environmental capital within the city and its supporting region may wax and wane due to internal dynamics and external drivers. These changes may be charted as shifts in land use, the type and qualities of infrastructure, population, and its demography, and other characteristics that drive the trajectory of a city toward shrinkage.

Our authors will discuss how fluxes of different capitals (social, cultural, financial, technological, natural resource, and governmental/political) might align or substitute for each other, so as to create conditions in the structure and function of a city for it to attain a sustainable size after undergoing a rapid depopulation. Other authors focus on how the misalignment of capitals can doom a city to shrink uncontrollably, and in combination with shifts in environmental quality, may destroy a city’s ability to function as an integrative center for social and economic interactions. We see this Special Issue as an attractive venue for data-based research on environmental factors, as they impact change in the socio-cultural, economic, political, and physiographic features of cities in flux, and on applications or evidence of policies that point to factors affecting the sustainability of shrinking cities.

Dr. William D. Shuster
Dr. Audrey L. Mayer
Dr. Ahjond S. Garmestani
Dr. Dustin L. Herrmann
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Urban issues

  • Sustainability

  • Natural Resources

  • Shrinking Cities

  • Shrunken Cities

  • Social Equity

  • Economic Stability

  • Environmental Capitals

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Sustainability for Shrinking Cities
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 911; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8090911 - 07 Sep 2016
Cited by 17
Abstract
Shrinking cities are widespread throughout the world despite the rapidly increasing global urban population. These cities are attempting to transition to sustainable trajectories to improve the health and well-being of urban residents, to build their capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to [...] Read more.
Shrinking cities are widespread throughout the world despite the rapidly increasing global urban population. These cities are attempting to transition to sustainable trajectories to improve the health and well-being of urban residents, to build their capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to cope with major events. The dynamics of shrinking cities are different than the dynamics of growing cities, and therefore intentional research and planning around creating sustainable cities is needed for shrinking cities. We propose research that can be applied to shrinking cities by identifying parallel challenges in growing cities and translating urban research and planning that is specific to each city’s dynamics. In addition, we offer applications of panarchy concepts to this problem. The contributions to this Special Issue take on this forward-looking planning task through drawing lessons for urban sustainability from shrinking cities, or translating general lessons from urban research to the context of shrinking cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Asset or Liability? Ecological and Sociological Tradeoffs of Urban Spontaneous Vegetation on Vacant Land in Shrinking Cities
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2139; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072139 - 22 Jun 2018
Cited by 10
Abstract
The increase of minimally managed vacant land resulting from population loss and the subsequent removal of infrastructure is a reoccurring feature in shrinking cities around the globe. Due to the low frequency and intensity of management, these spaces create a unique environment for [...] Read more.
The increase of minimally managed vacant land resulting from population loss and the subsequent removal of infrastructure is a reoccurring feature in shrinking cities around the globe. Due to the low frequency and intensity of management, these spaces create a unique environment for plant colonization, establishment, and succession. Herein we refer to these plants and the habitats they form as urban spontaneous vegetation (USV). As a form of urban green space, USV has the potential to provide a number of ecological and sociological benefits to shrinking cities, such as supporting urban wildlife, enhancing the provision of regulating ecosystem functions and services, connecting residents with nature, and improving human health and well-being. Conversely, USV can also support undesirable animals such as vectors of disease, and due to its wild and disorderly appearance, can evoke negative emotions in residents while signaling community neglect. This review aims to explore the potential ecological and sociological tradeoffs of USV within the context of shrinking cities. Through this evaluation, we aim to inform future planning and management to exploit the benefits offered by this resource while minimizing negative outcomes, thereby leading to the enhanced sustainability of shrinking cities worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Can Farmers’ Markets in Shrinking Cities Contribute to Economic Development? A Case Study from Flint, Michigan
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1714; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061714 - 24 May 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
We examine the extent to which the Flint Farmers’ Market produces positive spillover effects on nearby businesses in downtown Flint, Michigan. We care about spillover spending in shrinking cities like Flint because farmers’ markets may contribute to growth beyond their boundaries, and thus [...] Read more.
We examine the extent to which the Flint Farmers’ Market produces positive spillover effects on nearby businesses in downtown Flint, Michigan. We care about spillover spending in shrinking cities like Flint because farmers’ markets may contribute to growth beyond their boundaries, and thus help to sustain their surrounding areas. We surveyed visitors of the Flint market to determine the percentage who spend downtown outside of the market, how much they spend, the demographic characteristics that predict spending, and the additional businesses that visitors would like to see in the downtown. We also interviewed downtown business owners and managers to capture their perspectives on the market, including whether its relocation in 2014 helped their businesses. This study differs from prior research on spillover effects because it uses a mixed-methods approach and it explores how the shrinking-city context affects market outcomes. Overall, we find that the Flint market has minimal impact on nearby businesses compared to markets in non-shrinking cities. We discuss the possible reasons why the Flint market under-performs, including potential visitor concerns about crime and a site design that does not promote walking to other destinations. We also discuss how these concerns (e.g., crime, walkability) stem from the shrinking-city context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Balancing Urban Biodiversity Needs and Resident Preferences for Vacant Lot Management
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1679; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051679 - 22 May 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Urban vacant lots are often a contentious feature in cities, seen as overgrown, messy eyesores that plague neighborhoods. We propose a shift in this perception to locations of urban potential, because vacant lots may serve as informal greenspaces that maximize urban biodiversity while [...] Read more.
Urban vacant lots are often a contentious feature in cities, seen as overgrown, messy eyesores that plague neighborhoods. We propose a shift in this perception to locations of urban potential, because vacant lots may serve as informal greenspaces that maximize urban biodiversity while satisfying residents’ preferences for their design and use. Our goal was to assess what kind of vacant lots are ecologically valuable by assessing their biotic contents and residents’ preferences within a variety of settings. We surveyed 150 vacant lots throughout Baltimore, Maryland for their plant and bird communities, classified the lot’s setting within the urban matrix, and surveyed residents. Remnant vacant lots had greater vegetative structure and bird species richness as compared to other lot origins, while vacant lot settings had limited effects on their contents. Residents preferred well-maintained lots with more trees and less artificial cover, support of which may increase local biodiversity in vacant lots. Collectively, we propose that vacant lots with a mixture of remnant and planted vegetation can act as sustainable urban greenspaces with the potential for some locations to enhance urban tree cover and bird habitat, while balancing the needs and preferences of city residents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Agriculture as a Sustainability Transition Strategy for Shrinking Cities? Land Use Change Trajectory as an Obstacle in Kyoto City, Japan
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1048; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041048 - 02 Apr 2018
Cited by 9
Abstract
Can shrinking cities harness population decline to improve their sustainability by repurposing land use, for example, for localizing food production? Whether such a transition is feasible depends on the pre-shrinkage state of urban agricultural land use, including ongoing trends in local land use [...] Read more.
Can shrinking cities harness population decline to improve their sustainability by repurposing land use, for example, for localizing food production? Whether such a transition is feasible depends on the pre-shrinkage state of urban agricultural land use, including ongoing trends in local land use change. This study examined agricultural land use from 2007–2017 in Kyoto City, Japan. Kyoto is on the brink of a large projected population decline (~190,000 or ~13% until 2040) and serves as a representative for a large number of regional Japanese cities in a similar situation. Analysis was based on a public 2007 land use data set, aerial and satellite imagery and ground truthing. Results showed a decline of 209 ha or 10% in agricultural land use over ten years, but also highlight the diversity of ongoing agricultural land use types not captured by standard categories. The main post-agricultural land uses were residential (40%) and vacant land (28%). These results have implications for planning and policy. Kyoto City is currently not set to benefit from the projected shrinking process through localizing food production, despite a tradition of vegetable production. Future research should analyze drivers of change for observed agricultural land use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Agroecology for the Shrinking City
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030675 - 02 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Many cities are experiencing long-term declines in population and economic activity. As a result, frameworks for urban sustainability need to address the unique challenges and opportunities of such shrinking cities. Shrinking, particularly in the U.S., has led to extensive vacant land. The abundance [...] Read more.
Many cities are experiencing long-term declines in population and economic activity. As a result, frameworks for urban sustainability need to address the unique challenges and opportunities of such shrinking cities. Shrinking, particularly in the U.S., has led to extensive vacant land. The abundance of vacant land reflects a loss of traditional urban amenities, economic opportunity, neighbors, businesses, and even basic city services and often occurs in neighborhoods with socially and economically vulnerable or underserved populations. However, vacant land also provides opportunities, including the space to invest in green infrastructure that can provide ecosystem services and support urban sustainability. Achieving desirable amenities that provide ecosystem services from vacant land is the central tenet of a recent urban sustainability framework termed ecology for the shrinking city. An agroecological approach could operationalize ecology for the shrinking city to both manage vacancy and address ecosystem service goals. Developing an agroecology in shrinking cities not only secures provisioning services that use an active and participatory approach of vacant land management but also transforms and enhances regulating and supporting services. The human and cultural dimensions of agroecology create the potential for social-ecological innovations that can support sustainable transformations in shrinking cities. Overall, the strength of agroecological principles guiding a green infrastructure strategy stems from its explicit focus on how individuals and communities can shape their environment at multiple scales to produce outcomes that reflect their social and cultural context. Specifically, the shaping of the environment provides a pathway for communities to build agency and manage for resilience in urban social-ecological systems. Agroecology for the shrinking city can support desirable transformations, but to be meaningful, we recognize that it must be part of a greater strategy that addresses larger systemic issues facing shrinking cities and their residents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Challenges for the Resilience Capacity of Romanian Shrinking Cities
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2289; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122289 - 09 Dec 2017
Cited by 7
Abstract
In the context of deindustrialization and desurbanization, Romanian cities are confronted with issues related to natural demographic decline and out-migration, inducing apparently opposite, but complementary phenomena: slow-burn shrinkage and urban sprawl, which create peripheralisation processes both inside and outside the cities. The current [...] Read more.
In the context of deindustrialization and desurbanization, Romanian cities are confronted with issues related to natural demographic decline and out-migration, inducing apparently opposite, but complementary phenomena: slow-burn shrinkage and urban sprawl, which create peripheralisation processes both inside and outside the cities. The current approach acknowledges urban shrinkage within the context of post-communist transformations, but also as a “natural” process in the (adaptive) life cycle of cities. In this context, the study aims to explore the interdependencies between the causes and effects of shrinkage, on the one hand, and the operating feedback mechanisms which might lead to adaptation, on the other. It highlights the changes incurred by the territorial (un)balance combining the spatial analysis of urban shrinkage in relation to the diffused structures imposed by sub-urbanization or metropolisation processes. Using multi-criteria and time series analysis methods, the aim of the assessment is to determine and analyse the significant correlations and trends taking into account relevant demographic, social–economic as well as infrastructural and environmental indicators, in order to describe typologies of urban shrinkage in Romania and their adaptation potential. The results are interpreted in correlation with the need for sustainable strategies and planning, in order to tackle the issue of urban shrinkage in Romania. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Avoiding Decline: Fostering Resilience and Sustainability in Midsize Cities
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 844; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8090844 - 26 Aug 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
Eighty-five percent of United States citizens live in urban areas. However, research surrounding the resilience and sustainability of complex urban systems focuses largely on coastal megacities (>1 million people). Midsize cities differ from their larger counterparts due to tight urban-rural feedbacks with their [...] Read more.
Eighty-five percent of United States citizens live in urban areas. However, research surrounding the resilience and sustainability of complex urban systems focuses largely on coastal megacities (>1 million people). Midsize cities differ from their larger counterparts due to tight urban-rural feedbacks with their immediate natural environments that result from heavy reliance and close management of local ecosystem services. They also may be less path-dependent than larger cities due to shorter average connection length among system components, contributing to higher responsiveness among social, infrastructural, and ecological feedbacks. These distinct midsize city features call for a framework that organizes information and concepts concerning the sustainability of midsize cities specifically. We argue that an integrative approach is necessary to capture properties emergent from the complex interactions of the social, infrastructural, and ecological subsystems that comprise a city system. We suggest approaches to estimate the relative resilience of midsize cities, and include an example assessment to illustrate one such estimation approach. Resilience assessments of a midsize city can be used to examine why some cities end up on sustainable paths while others diverge to unsustainable paths, and which feedbacks may be partially responsible. They also provide insight into how city planners and decision makers can use information about the resilience of midsize cities undergoing growth or shrinkage relative to their larger and smaller counterparts, to transform them into long-term, sustainable social-ecological systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Synthesis of Household Yard Area Dynamics in the City of San Juan Using Multi-Scalar Social-Ecological Perspectives
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 481; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8050481 - 18 May 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
Urban sustainability discourse promotes the increased use of green infrastructure (GI) because of its contribution of important ecosystem services to city dwellers. Under this vision, all urban green spaces, including those at the household scale, are valued for their potential contributions to a [...] Read more.
Urban sustainability discourse promotes the increased use of green infrastructure (GI) because of its contribution of important ecosystem services to city dwellers. Under this vision, all urban green spaces, including those at the household scale, are valued for their potential contributions to a city’s social-ecological functioning and associated benefits for human well-being. Understanding how urban residential green spaces have evolved can help improve sustainable urban planning and design, but it requires examining urban processes occurring at multiple scales. The interaction between social structures and ecological structures within the subtropical city of San Juan, the capital and the largest city of Puerto Rico, has been an important focus of study of the San Juan ULTRA (Urban Long-Term Research Area) network, advancing understanding of the city’s vulnerabilities and potential adaptive capacity. Here we provide a synthesis of several social-ecological processes driving residential yard dynamics in the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, through the evaluation of empirical findings related to yard management decisions, yard area, and yard services. We emphasize the role of factors occurring at the household scale. Results are discussed within the context of shrinking cities using an integrated, multi-scalar, social-ecological systems framework, and consider the implications of household green infrastructure for advancing urban sustainability theory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
The Public Value of Urban Vacant Land: Social Responses and Ecological Value
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 486; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8050486 - 17 May 2016
Cited by 22
Abstract
This study reviews scholarly papers and case studies on urban vacant land to gain a stronger understanding of its public value in terms of the ecological and social benefits it can bring. This literature review offers a conceptual overview of the potential benefits [...] Read more.
This study reviews scholarly papers and case studies on urban vacant land to gain a stronger understanding of its public value in terms of the ecological and social benefits it can bring. This literature review offers a conceptual overview of the potential benefits of vacant land with the goal of addressing gaps in knowledge about vacant land and to provide suggestions to planners and designers on how vacant properties can be integrated with other green infrastructure in cities. There are many opportunities to redevelop vacant land to enhance its ecological and social value, and many design professionals and scholars are becoming interested in finding new ways to exploit this potential, especially with regard to planning and design. A better appreciation of the public value of urban vacant land is vital for any effort to identify alternative strategies to optimize the way these spaces are utilized for both short-term and long-term uses to support urban regeneration and renewal. This study will help planners and designers to understand and plan for urban vacant land, leading to better utilization of these spaces and opening up alternative creative approaches to envisioning space and landscape design in our urban environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Searching for Social Sustainability: The Case of the Shrinking City of Heerlen, The Netherlands
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8040382 - 19 Apr 2016
Cited by 22
Abstract
Shrinkage is a relevant phenomenon for many cities and this trend is predicted to continue in the future. Although urban shrinkage is well recognized in academic discourse, little research has been undertaken on its social aspects. This paper explores the concept of social [...] Read more.
Shrinkage is a relevant phenomenon for many cities and this trend is predicted to continue in the future. Although urban shrinkage is well recognized in academic discourse, little research has been undertaken on its social aspects. This paper explores the concept of social capital in the context of urban shrinkage and elaborates on how it contributes to social sustainability in shrinking cities. After defining the concepts, we identify resources, empowerment, and participation as key indicators of social capital in the context of urban shrinkage. The paper analyzes these indicators in the shrinking, old industrial city of Heerlen, the Netherlands, based on 24 in-depth interviews with citizens, policy-makers, and entrepreneurs, as well as secondary data. The findings reveal the prominence of three interrelated issues: the importance of local culture, subjective experiences of shrinkage, and a lack of trust between citizens and politicians. We conclude that social capital can facilitate social sustainability in the context of urban shrinkage. However, trust and empowerment are not guaranteed in a shrinking context. In shrinking cities more investments should be made to foster cooperation between civil society and politics and the development of mutual trust. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Contributing to Residential Vacancy and Some Approaches to Management in Gyeonggi Province, Korea
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 367; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8040367 - 13 Apr 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
With the decrease in the demand for large-scale apartments as a result of an aging society and a decrease in population, there has been an increase in vacant houses due to a supply that exceeds the projected demands. As a method of urban [...] Read more.
With the decrease in the demand for large-scale apartments as a result of an aging society and a decrease in population, there has been an increase in vacant houses due to a supply that exceeds the projected demands. As a method of urban regeneration in rural areas and activation of citizen communities, the utilization of vacant houses has become one of the ways to promote a new lifestyle, active movement for citizen participation, and business model for long-term revitalization. This study aims to uncover and examine the major causes and factors behind the upswing in vacant houses. We investigated the current state of vacant houses, the recent policies concerning them, and the types of vacant houses in Korea’s Gyeonggi province. We then categorized and analyzed the causes of houses being vacant, their types, and the methods of utilizing them under different local conditions in order to understand the efficient processes and strategies for their utilization. The results showed that an excess of building construction (especially recent construction permits), the number of recipients of the national basic livelihood scheme, and the number of elderly people showed the strongest correlation with vacant houses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing Potential Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Public Health and Vulnerable Populations in Southeast Florida and Providing a Framework to Improve Outcomes
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 315; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8040315 - 31 Mar 2016
Cited by 9
Abstract
In recent years, ongoing efforts by a multitude of universities, local governments, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been focused on sea-level rise (SLR) adaptation in Florida. However, within these efforts, there has been very little attention given to the potential impacts [...] Read more.
In recent years, ongoing efforts by a multitude of universities, local governments, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been focused on sea-level rise (SLR) adaptation in Florida. However, within these efforts, there has been very little attention given to the potential impacts of sea-level rise on human health. The intent of this project is to identify populations in Southeast Florida that are most vulnerable to sea-level rise from a topographic perspective, determine how vulnerable these population are from a socio-economic perspective, identify potential health impacts, develop adaptation strategies designed to assist these communities, and produce an outreach effort that can be shared with other coastal communities. The location of socially-vulnerable and health-vulnerable populations are correlated, but at present they are not generally in the geographically-vulnerable areas. Projections indicate that they will become at risk in the future but the lack of data on emerging diseases makes public health assessments difficult. We propose a redefinition of “who is vulnerable?” to include health indicators and hard infrastructure solutions for flood and property protection. These tools can be used to help protect water resources from the impacts of climate change, which would, in turn, protect public health via drinking water supplies, and efforts to address social issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Boom, Bust and Beyond: Arts and Sustainability in Calumet, Michigan
Sustainability 2016, 8(3), 284; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8030284 - 21 Mar 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
Cycles of boom and bust plague mining communities around the globe, and decades after the bust the skeletons of shrunken cities remain. This article evaluates strategies for how former mining communities cope and strive for sustainability in the decades well beyond the bust, [...] Read more.
Cycles of boom and bust plague mining communities around the globe, and decades after the bust the skeletons of shrunken cities remain. This article evaluates strategies for how former mining communities cope and strive for sustainability in the decades well beyond the bust, using a case study of Calumet, Michigan. In 1910, Calumet was at the center of the mining industry in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but in the century since its peak, mining employment steadily declined until the last mine closed in 1968, and the population declined by over 80%. This paper explores challenges, opportunities, and progress toward sustainability associated with arts-related development in this context. Methods are mixed, including observation, interviews, document review, a survey, and secondary data analysis. We follow Flora and Flora’s Community Capitals Framework to analyze progress toward sustainability. Despite key challenges associated with the shrunken city context (degraded tax base, overbuilt and aging infrastructure, diminished human capital, and a rather limited set of volunteers and political actors), we find the shrunken city also offers advantages for arts development, including low rents, less risk of gentrification, access to space, and political incentive. In Calumet, we see evidence of a spiraling up pattern toward social sustainability resulting from arts development; however impacts on environmental and economic sustainability are limited. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Growing Gardens in Shrinking Cities: A Solution to the Soil Lead Problem?
Sustainability 2016, 8(2), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8020141 - 03 Feb 2016
Cited by 16
Abstract
As cities shrink, they often leave a patchwork of vacancy on the landscape. The maintenance of vacant lands and eventual transformation to sustainable land uses is a challenge all cities face, but one that is particularly pronounced in shrinking cities. Vacant lands can [...] Read more.
As cities shrink, they often leave a patchwork of vacancy on the landscape. The maintenance of vacant lands and eventual transformation to sustainable land uses is a challenge all cities face, but one that is particularly pronounced in shrinking cities. Vacant lands can support sustainability initiatives, specifically the expansion of urban gardens and local food production. However, many shrinking cities are the same aging cities that have experienced the highest soil lead burdens from their industrial past as well as the historic use of lead-based paint and leaded gasoline. Elevated soil lead is often viewed as a barrier to urban agriculture and managing for multiple ecosystem services, including food production and reduced soil lead exposure, remains a challenge. In this paper, we argue that a shift in framing the soil lead and gardening issue from potential conflict to potential solution can advance both urban sustainability goals and support healthy gardening efforts. Urban gardening as a potential solution to the soil lead problem stems from investment in place and is realized through multiple activities, in particular (1) soil management, including soil testing and the addition of amendments, and (2) social network and community building that leverages resources and knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Abandonment, Ecological Assembly and Public Health Risks in Counter-Urbanizing Cities
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 491; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8050491 - 19 May 2016
Cited by 14
Abstract
Urban landscapes can be transformed by widespread abandonment from population and economic decline. Ecological assembly, sometimes referred to as “greening”, following abandonment can yield valuable ecosystem services, but also can pose a risk to public health. Abandonment can elevate zoonotic vector-borne disease risk [...] Read more.
Urban landscapes can be transformed by widespread abandonment from population and economic decline. Ecological assembly, sometimes referred to as “greening”, following abandonment can yield valuable ecosystem services, but also can pose a risk to public health. Abandonment can elevate zoonotic vector-borne disease risk by favoring the hyperabundance of commensal pests and pathogen vectors. Though greater biodiversity in abandoned areas can potentially dilute vector-borne pathogen transmission, “greening” can elevate transmission risk by increasing movement of pathogen vectors between fragmented areas and by giving rise to novel human-wildlife interfaces. Idled and derelict infrastructure can further elevate disease risk from vector-borne and water-borne pathogens, which can build up in stagnant and unprotected water that maintenance and routine use of delivery or sanitation systems would otherwise eliminate. Thus, framing “greening” as inherently positive could result in policies and actions that unintentionally exacerbate inequalities by elevating risks rather than delivering benefits. As counter-urbanism is neither a minor pattern of urban development, nor a short-term departure from urban growth, homeowner and municipal management of abandoned areas should account for potential hazards to reduce health risks. Further socioecological assessments of public health risks following abandonment could better ensure the resilience and well-being of communities in shrinking cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
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