A Visual Guide To #Sustainability City
Welcome to the second in my series of visual guides focused on the topic of Sustainability and Green Tech. The first one focused on a Visual Guide To Sustainable Software Engineering, visualizing the core philosophies and eight principles of sustainable software engineering, as defined by this fantastic Microsoft Learn Module.
Putting Philosophy Into Practice
In fact, it was that first philosophy ("Everyone has a part to play in the climate solution") that inspired me to work with the Microsoft Green Cloud Advocacy team on the #VisualGreenTech challenge for EarthDay and co-host a special Earth Day themed episode of #HelloWorld featuring Green Tech experts from Microsoft.
The challenge itself featured 24 prompts, three of which explored Sustainability interactively using Minecraft Education Edition resources for Earth Day. The first of these prompts focused on Sustainability City - a Minecraft world where you can take green buses around a bustling city, visiting various facilities to learn about sustainable practices targeting water treatment, food production, sustainable forestry, green buildings, energy-efficient homes, and the power grid. This community-created video does a great job of navigating the world in under eight minutes.
It was there that my personal journey into putting that philosophy to practice began!
Using Minecraft To Motivate Sustainability Education
Minecraft is an amazing resource for educating K-12 students on sustainability in actionable ways. The Minecraft Education Edition provides downloadable words that students can navigate and it has detailed lesson plans with activities and discussion guides to help students go from awareness to engagement, and action.
In my case, I took advantage of our Microsoft employee access to the Minecraft Edu Edition to begin a sustainability city journey with my 12-year-old. We took every bus, talked to every character, and had interesting follow-up conversations like: where does our water come from? how can we be more sustainable at home during the pandemic? and my favorite: should we create our own vegetable garden so we know where our food comes from?
If you are a parent, I strongly advocate for doing this exploration with kids and using the visual guide below to have a conversation once you leave the world. If you are an educator with access to this edition of Minecraft, I hope you find this visual guide a good resource for classroom conversations or continued awareness of what they learned, once they have completed that lesson.
Visual Guide & Navigation
Here is the visual guide to Sustainability City. You can find a hi-res downloadable version of this visual guide here - warning: this is a large file (13MB) so make sure you have the data/bandwidth to download it. See this tweet for a behind-the-scenes time-lapse replay of how it was created.
The visual guide has six sections, each mapping to one of the regions of Sustainability City. Start from the top left and work your way clockwise to the last one. Here is what you'll learn. Start with Food Production to explore sustainable farming practices including water reclamation and composting. Next, travel to the Water Outflow Reclamation Facility to learn how water from sewers and drains is "cleaned" and used for irrigation or returned to source (water positive) - the removed biosolids become fodder for composting.
Then, explore sustainable practices in the construction of large buildings (make them self-sustaining in energy needs) and explore sustainable forestry practices required to support our lumber needs. Finally, we look at energy-efficient housing and explore the power grid in some detail. As we know, electricity is a proxy for carbon, and understanding the various ways we generate, transport, and use, energy is critical to sustainability education.
I hope you found the guide useful. Making visual guides takes time but is infinitely rewarding. Have comments or feedback? Do leave them below.
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