I used to harbor fantasies of going "back to the land." I wanted to live an environmentally-sound existence in an idyllic place where land was cheap and "nature" was all around me. At least I thought that's what I wanted. In my readings about alternative living arrangements, I came to notice an ironic problem with many back-to-the-landers: in their efforts to lead sustainable lives, they often isolate themselves into a lifestyle that ultimately can't be sustained. You can see evidence of this in the closures of various intentional communities and the abandonment of family farms--those good intentions don't necessarily lead to the Good Life. I slowly began to realize that most of us need and want other people around us, we enjoy man-made culture, and, well, even in the age of telecommuting, lots of us still spend at least some of our work hours in cities.
There will always be exceptions to the rule, of course--people who truly don't mind giving all that up, and doing so indefinitely. But even Henry David Thoreau's Walden experiment was just that--an experiment, in solitude and deprivation; it was not meant for families, or for large groups of people to emulate (if lots of people had wanted to join Thoreau, that basically would have spoiled things for him, wouldn't it?). I'm not bad-mouthing Thoreau--what he did doesn't bother me nor affect me negatively in the slightest, and I rather enjoyed reading Walden years ago. But there's been an over-emphasis for far too long by nature writers on the idea that to be truly environmentally-correct, one must focus on, and live in, the wilds of nature. Cities get left out.
Jenny Price, herself a nature writer and resident of Los Angeles, doesn't think it has to be this way--and maybe shouldn't be this way. Her essay for Grist asserts that perhaps more time and effort should be spent on understanding the importance of "how we use and move nature around" in cities across the globe, since how we do this affects the ecosystems of these cities as well as of those in less-tamed parts of the world.
Go read the essay. Price's ideas and her realistic but optimistic outlook make loads of sense.