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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Urbanism and the New Ethic

A few blogs ago, I discussed Detroit and the need for an urban policy. Urbanization is one of the fastest growing global trends and probably one of the most watched along with the warming of the earth and gross national product.

Asia, especially China and India portray the greatest percentage of rising urban population with North American and European population already reaching about 85%.

With urbanization come great social problems: slums, tribal conflict, crime, massive infrastructure requirements for water, energy, transportation, and communication. But as the great former governor and urban planner of Brazil, Jaime Lerner, instructs: "The City is not the problem; it is the solution."

Urbanization creates wealth, opportunity to cross oppressive boundaries, mobility and communication, and safety. It is a major solution to global warming, resource destruction, ignorance, population growth, inadequate food production and distribution, health and wealth inequity.  The City is not the problem. It is the solution.

Or can be, say the New Urbanists, depending on how it is designed. And there we are: urbanizing, yes; but how? Is it assaulting or nurturing the earth, the very condition of our existence. Is it transforming our species and, if so, to what? And who decides how and what? On what grounds? Let's think about that.

And that's where ethics and politics enter the fray; and the call for urban policy.

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