7 September 2010

THE IDEAL CITY


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Venice / photo by Doug Joyce


Most of the inhabitants of cities have not fully fleshed out what the ideal city, actually looks like, works like, or feels like.  The dreamer, and the NIMBY, the planner, and the chronic complainer, the entrepreneur, and homeless man all occasionally ponder our own vision of a city.  We see through the lens of our own narrow interests, missing an all encompassing vision of the community.  Our lens doesn't permit the vision of how the whole place works, and how all the various pieces all work together to make a better place.  

A community consists of a collection of smaller enlightened self-interests, loosely entangled to make a metropolis, with zoning codes, review boards, and public hearings to crudely guide and sometime muddle the process. At the best, we get Portland, Oregon; at the worst we get Lagos, Nigeria.  It's a process that requires a lot of muddling, and making mistakes, and correcting them again. It encourages chicanery, public nastiness, and banal design.  

In other words, we have a process in play for making a great city in about 750 years.  

I can take a crack at what makes for a great city, and tell you what I think would make a great city.  

  • The goal is a better quality of life in the city. One is not compelled to leave because on has 'had enough'
  • The goal is an improved life for everyone.
  • The goal is to make city living completely sustainable.  One of the ways society can support its population that is on a long term basis, viable to the long term health of the planet.
  • The goal is to make city living a place for infinite possibility for people, in their personal goals and life, and within society as a whole.
  • The goal is to make a place, that evening doing the routine is easy to accomplish. Not only are the routine tasks easy to accomplish, but an environment of inspiration is the natural setting. It is a place of active beauty.

Next time you hear someone complaining about how they live, ask them what their notion of an ideal city is.

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