We have large portions of urban dwellers whose legitimacy is questioned, thus we need to create a new narrative, a vision of the city that includes everyone. The question is rarely asked, “Who is the city for?” but is seemingly a foregone conclusion and thus issues of trust, equality, equity and sustainability are forgotten in the process of extractive productivity.
Extractive systems beget socioeconomically depressed regions because they rely on inequality to function; the car vs the pedestrian, the rich vs the poor, the native vs the immigrant. Similarly, when a structure has been used to its capacity, many times it is abandoned and left to degrade. Sometimes it is repurposed into something similar but not regenerative to the organism, or the host, that is the city, because of the inherent restriction of extractive systems. The Commons, that is, public space, does not need to be privatised to be valuable to all. Social capital is what makes cities and cities ought to be built around people, not technology, because the former has a connection to the landscape and the latter can not measure this variable. Big data shows large swaths of numbers, while thick data shows a more qualitative analysis and this is what social urbaneering seeks to understand -- what is it these stories tell and how do we apply that data to livable cities?
It has been predicted through the usage of biophysics (e coli formulations in jars that represent said cities) that by 2050, the planet will have 11 billion inhabitants and most of those will be in the 25 super-metropolis areas which are, not surprisingly, located in Asia. It is time to reform our cities and our urban economies so that they regenerate life rather than extract from the population and the environment. In a future entry, I will shed more insight into what is available in regards to urban design. For more immediate info, watch this 90 minute presentation on the subject.
Anthropological insight into conflicts over urban space