Dear Elected Official,
I grew up equally in the city and rurally. I learned how to feed and feed off the earth in a balanced system. I also learned that the city offered a great opportunity for complex socialisations that smaller communities don’t support. I also came to believe that technology is a natural extension of humans, it’s the unhealthy aspects of our technologies that are unnecessary and no longer need to be perpetuated. If technology is natural, then cities are natural. So why don’t they function more like nature?
A dialogue for a sustainable city must be entered with all of the inhabitants of the city. Part of the current drawbacks of urbanisation is a disempowering disconnect with the vast systems we live in. There is a loss of delight and use of public spaces. The modern economic system has divided much of the city into private blocks, so the public areas of the city need to be returned to the commons of the people that live within its sphere. A diversity of culture allows for a diversity of problem solving which is what the future requires.
Let us address agri-culture. The idea of a flat green lawn has become pathological. If your urban space receives less than 20 inches, 508 mm of rain per annum, lawn space should be discouraged. Lawns are ecological dead zones, while miniature meadows would support far more species. Natural prairie grasses and wild flowers, indigenous plants are the biosphere that the urban centre should support. Native trees and non-invasive fruit, nut and fibre trees should replace trees selected purely for ornamental purposes. Archaic knowledge of pollarding and coppicing can lead to better use of plants. Clinics and courses should be started with the local horticultural societies to provide understanding to those who wish to transform the space. Most importantly a program should be adopted to educate and encourage the persons of no fixed address within the urban centre. If the boulevards and parks of the centre are to be converted, if the trees are to be replaced and cared for then why not empower those persons who live in protection of the public spaces of the city already? A local currency could be created and housing and services provided on enrollment, completion and participation in all stages of the project.
There are many ways to make a city sustain itself better. Green roof systems could be installed on top of every flat roofed building. These provide water conservation and energy conservation. Depending on the density/intensity of the green roof it can also provide food/fibre/fuel or support a composting system. Waste systems could be readjusted into protein digestion, compost and sewage reclamation for use replenishing the soil naturally. If we are going to begin to eat from our cities emissions from vehicles must be diminished. Better mass transit, low-no emitting vehicles, less long distance shipping can all link together to accomplish this. Pedestrian areas and open parking areas must be converted to permeable paving systems that allow trees root systems better access to water and air.
Now let us address another culture. Graffiti is a natural expression of creative people with little or no traditional outlet. If it is encouraged in a structured and purposeful manner it can lead to heights of modern art. It is the stifling of the act/art that leads to tagging and quick ill-thought out work. In a healthy graffiti culture the competition leads to a high standard of work, and for bad works to be covered over in short periods of time. If back alleys and sites backing onto transit lines were opened to graffiti, a yearly festival for this art could attract people from all over the world. You could combine it with street performing arts festivals and folk festivals to foster a real diversity of culture.
People are our most important resource. Obstacles in the future will only be surmounted with ideas and ingenuity. Denying a single brain an opportunity to be a part of the glorious system we could create will be our downfall. There are many solutions that we could begin to implement using systems already in place that can be improved upon. Let’s start the dialogue and start the change.