One-hundred twenty-five years ago, architect Daniel Burnham, who was also the Designer of Works for the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition in Chicago, helped create the first large scale implementation of a new campaign known as the City Beautiful Movement.
That’s where Burnham first said:
“Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.”
I think he meant that when we dream big enough, we can restore our belief that the craft and art of building can bring out the very best in human beings. His words are as true in 2018 as they were in 1893.
But Burnham didn’t just implore us to “make no little plans.” He also said: “Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone, be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.”
Burnham also reminded us that our “sons and our grandsons (and excuse me if I add daughters and granddaughters) are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”
I’m here at Greenbuild 2018, and this moment is something special. This is our noble diagram: Our big plan to build our bodies and minds with the same thought and care that we invest in our buildings and cities.
This is our higher calling.
Because quality of life shouldn’t be something we rattle off in the middle of some extraordinary set of statistics. It doesn’t have to be like that. And frankly, it shouldn’t be like that.
Talking to human beings in terms of how our decision making impacts their everyday lives shouldn’t only be a part of the conversation, but it should be the heart of it. And it should be the foundation of any commitment we make from here on out.
For too long, for too many people, in too many places — our homes, our offices, even our cities — have been reducing our life expectancies and harming our long-term health.
The truth is that our water is often tainted and our air is often poisoned. The materials we use to build the places we spend our lives in are often filled with invisible toxins and hazards. And all of this is exacerbated by the impact of climate change. Everything from more severe weather events to heat waves to droughts to rising sea levels will affect us all.
In other words, the communities we love are killing us…but they don’t have to.
I know we all believe that every single human being on the planet deserves a safe and healthy place to call home. And in the weeks and months to come, USGBC will be rolling out an extraordinary campaign showing you how to get involved, how to share your story, and how you can help others.
Now, everyone has a role to play. Everyone is each other’s partner. And I’m so excited to share this today.
In the past, we have delivered on our promises of certifications, signifying high quality spaces in which we can live and work. And now, by harnessing the power of our partnerships with companies and organizations the world over, we will explore creating a new campaign — a Living Standard that indicates that an environment is healthy and safe for all who inhabit it — from buildings, to communities, to cities, to entire nations.
Because a higher Living Standard is what every person on the planet deserves.
And leading long and healthy lives is not a privilege — it’s a right for everyone, regardless of their circumstances.
We have a lot to live up to, but it’s within our reach! And if we’re going to claim that reality, the time is now.
Take a moment and visit www.livingstandard.org where you can learn more, start sharing your stories with us, and sign up to be a part of this new campaign.
My sincere hope is that if we realize how interconnected all of us are in our own daily lives, we can begin to build a new living standard that truly redefines what it means to be human.