TED Conversations

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Sep 21 2013: Cities are not the be all, end all you urbanist suggest. The population is moving to cities because that is where commerce is..ie :jobs. It is getting tougher to have have skilled, high paying jobs in rural areas. The density just isn't there for the talent pool needed for a Google or a Microsoft, even a Boeing. Farming takes less people than it did 100 years ago. A farmer with 2 employees can handle a 1000 acres, in the past it would take his family and 5 other people. The current employment market is leading people to the cities just like the Industrial Revolution.

    My biggest concern with this trend is that cities (especially major ones) are bullies.They take water resources from surrounding counties (Los Angeles), they ship their garbage to other locations out their community (NYC), and want to impose their regulations on the entire state (Gun laws & Chicago). I really do not care what a municipality does within it's own borders, but when it effects me and I do not get a vote on its leadership-I have a major problem.

    Cities want their surrounding areas to help support them when they are decaying (ie city sales tax & income tax even if you commute from outside its limits or work outside its limits and live there). Detroit decayed for 6 decades due to terrible leadership that drove their commercial tax base and residents out of their city. With a lot of density, power gets misused to stay in power.

    Great things can occur with that density of like great minds ( Palo Alto). But with that success, you drive out the lower and middle class. Cities are not the savior, its creating communities that work together for their own benefit. Maybe we should think smaller--like the area around our public high schools and making those areas sustainable nationwide.

    "How do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time"
    • thumb
      Sep 21 2013: I don't look at cities as be-all-end-all, so much as I look at them as inevitable. Humans have been urbanizing steadily for the last three centuries. In 1800, the world's urban population was about 3% of total population (defining "urban" as agglomeration of 20,000 or more). Today, we're closing in on 55% of world population in cities. Each year we're adding 1.5% of world population to cities. I don't think we're going to stop the process, so it behooves us to influence the process to minimize damage to surrounding areas, damage to the planet, or damage to cities' own inhabitants. For us, Just Cities are cities that don't victimize anyone. The challenge is how we get there.

      New technologies and innovation can bring technical answers to issues like water, waste, etc. Innovation in social and political realms, however, is a little harder to generate. And there's no guarantee that poorly distributed power and wealth will not rear its ugly head and misdirect social and political evolution to the benefit of a few. But, just like the bullying practices you note above, the misuse of power puts us on an unsustainable path. That is why we are trying to build the commitment to social justice as a prerogative for urban success and prosperity in the long run--the path to urban success runs through fairness, inclusion, participation. And we need to prepare people to more actively shape their cities.

      One step in the right direction is a redefined 21st century citizenship. I recommend Eric Liu's talk at TED City2.0. (One take home from that talk was the danger of fatalism and Eric's observation that one commonality shared by most of the over-privileged and the under-privileged is they both somehow feel that they deserve what they've gotten.)
    • Sep 22 2013: Spencer's urban planning "bully" description is real history; and that corruption destroys people and their family enterprises. The Mulhulland criminal abuses in the Owens Valley (LA Water history) come to mind; but I'm sure there are other examples.
      A GREAT model of success and potential serious growth lies in the "Neighborhood - Block Party 'Watch' " community interactions. Our glorious PTA organizations lifting UP children all over the country are also great models of potential prosperity. When neighbors and fellow parents are able to come together for common goals and mutual beneficience; THAT is a beautifully creative, profitable scenario.
      Urbanization may naturally occur by human nature or some other phenomena?? The challenge our Ford Foundation (and others) has is to serve the success stories around our good 'ol U.S. of A.; and help people duplicate those profitable success stories as they are uniquely adjusted for various locales.
      When economic development is brought down to the family level, great results can happen. Rotary Clubs and other effective service organizations can be excellent vehicles for this development; and the social changes Mr. McCarthy speaks of can be put a fast track of furthering our "American Exceptionalism". We may have lost an edge to global competion; but we still have TREMENDOUS social capital and millions of strong familiy untis that can still DELIVER THE GOODS !!! :):):)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.