Bernd Fesel

Deputy Director, European Centre for Creative Economy - ECCE

This conversation is closed.

Your Future: Cities - Maker or Solution of Crisis?

City and urbanism is at the heart of the founding myth of democracy: of course they provide freedom of social control and space for individualism and at the same time breeding ground for economic growth. But of course they account also for the major problems and frictions in democracy - from poverty ranging to social war and climate pollution. Cities produce also dangers to our future.

While city and urban planning was the domain of policy makers and specialists for decades, the digital shift leads in the last two years to a power drift in the city - in advantage to the residents and locals. This reaches from bike sharing models via facebook to voter protest against large infrastructure investment like railroad-renewals in Germany – also via facebook. Apps for Democracy shows the new digital city evolving - www.appsfordemocracy.org.

The CITY FUTURE will be USER-DRIVEN in a way WE CAN NOT IMAGE NOW.

So it is time to ask the user what they want from a city attractive to them in the future, from a city being of daily support in bettering our lives. Please PARTICIPATE and
1. name three services and benefits that are most important to you.
2. name three disadvantages that are most important to you.

Your answers will add to a GLOBAL DEBATE about the future of cities - see for example:
- PICNIC 2011, Amsterdam - www.picnicnetwork.org
- Forum Avignon 2011, Avignon - www.forum-avignon.org
- Expo Shanghai 2010, Shanghai - Columne by Charles Landry on "Better City - Better Life" - http://bit.ly/nuNFEe

Only when cities generate more value than crisis, only when they are a model for YOUR AND OUR FUTURE, they will survive as the spacial model of our lives.

Let us build our future cities starting at TED !

  • Oct 9 2011: Yes it is true, familiarity breeds contempt. While change is constant it is not always welcome. Cultural differences go against the comfort we constantly seek, our familiarity and traditions are changed by new and different ideas. In the concept of cities we have to look at neighbourhoods. I remember, was witness to the changing of the fiber of industrial cities in Germany. "Die Fremd Arbeiter" of the sevnties became the outcast of the eighties, the influx of east Germans again created controversial sentiments and divided a nation with one language. In Paris, new laws preventing Muslims from prayin in the streets, the Buqua and Niquab are banned in a very controversial law. Europe has at this time more than 20 million Muslim, a tremendous cultural block. And we force the changes. Nations and their individuals loose identity, the Turkish Ghettos were condemned, now in Paris west end, in London Northend, minorities have gathered in enclaves they control. In London, in Naples, in many cities in the west trouble is started by minorities, claiming discrimination. While we try to educate the different faction, strong religious beliefs rule a large number of these enclaves. Religion has always been a factor in society, the thirty years war, Protestants against Catholics, the Crusades and in the last four decades Northern Ireland. If we allow such segregation of neighbourhoods, we will never learn to live togee.ther. I have seen civil wars, ethnic fighting, ethnic genocide, Serbs against Bosniacs, Croats against Serbs, Kosovians against both. Can we survive any such enmity? It took a Tito, a Saddam, even a Mubarak to keep the lid on a potential disaster. Democracy has very little to do with it, the question is are the Germans willing to be dominated by other ideas? Are the French willing to forego their independence in favour of Islamic culture, are the Americans willing to incorporate Mexican culture? Many of the cities already have more foreigns language signs than nativ
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      Oct 10 2011: Brilliant to read so many national developments in a larger perspective! I like most your question "willing to be incorporate another culture?" This question leads to our future and it show their is no necessity. We have the choice.
      But others do not have: many third world countries have no alternative to the domination of the "west" or in the future "china". There seems to be an asymmetry of choice? While the west can choose to incorporate and be less nationalistic, the non-west can choose to be more nationalistc and less dominated? Are both sides moving from different ends to meet?

      An Example: When Germany in 2011 for the first time ever starts an education at state university for imans, it will change the islam in Germany as well as the German state. And it is about time - how can we ignore imans so long and wounder about them being radical?

      So the cities are the places where all these meta-changes are negotiated and are lived in real - agreed !
  • Oct 6 2011: I'm surprised nobody mentioned Masdar city in UAE, which is being built right now. It's billed as a carbon neutral city that will house 50 000 people and have absolutely zero cars. Taking out streets will greatly reduce the size of any city. I think its taking the city planning to the extreme but might have a few lessons that can be applied to already established cities. This might just be a utopian dream.

    A city needs three things- work, play, and living space. A place I want to live would need great job opportunities and a vibrant social scene. Spacious yards vs a more communal apartment? Both have its pros and cons.
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    Oct 14 2011: 1. name three services and benefits that are most important to you.
    1. Communication services - make my life easier
    2. Financial services - make my life easier
    3. Transportation services - make me have more time for more tasks
    2. name three disadvantages that are most important to you.
    1. Technological complexity
    2. Worsened health due to stress and longer working time
    3. Teenagers don't have motivation to work hard on something (many cities are facing this problem now) and this makes people in working age worried about their new workers
  • Oct 12 2011: I found this great saying: "Only When cities generate more value than Crisis, khi chúng only a model for YOUR AND OUR FUTURE, They will survive as the spacial model of our lives." And life in the city rely on our own.
  • Oct 9 2011: I am devastated, no more Dortmunder..LOL. But maybe that is part of what we are talking about, improve the existing environment, allow the natural progress of evolution. As you added "invest in mindsets, in peoples spirit" unless we allow the rotation of education and incorporate peoples ideas and desires we will never improve cities or living in them. I have left footprints over much of this planet, seen the adversity of the political and cultural demand made on all of us, never have I seen so much resistance between Environment and Business. Maybe I am too old now to really care(didn't know of the demise of Dortmunder Bier) but I sure as hell would ask the younger generations to protect and re-create the pristine nature we are left with. Germany is far ahead of most western nations, has been a leader in alternative energy and should maybe through its power in the EU force other members to increase its standards.
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      Oct 9 2011: -:) bier comes, bier goes - change stays. And adversity? My experience is similiar - if business or culture, social or economic or Environment and Business. the closer, identically the sides of a coin are, the more difficult it seems is cooperation in mutual benefit.

      Some times I wonder if this is because of our western concept of identity - if their is any cultural pre-condition making it hard for us to cooperate on such necessities. Did you in your travels and culture footprints around the world had any experiences with this?
  • Oct 9 2011: We have the same gas prices here in the US. People don't care. Within the next few years there will begin a new standard for new cars manufactured to have a higher miles per gallon mileage. Battery powered cars and hybrids are too expensive for people to afford, they are on the upper end. I believe that until battery powered cars become affordable for everyone we will continue in the same direction. But I do agree with you about high gas prices affecting a change. I don't think the prices are high enough, though. In my area we don't have lots of major cities to connect via transportation. I am in New Orleans, Louisiana and all of our major cities are spread far apart, at least an hour and a half drive between each other. Our state also doesn't have money enough to protect us from levee failure and floods, we are in danger. So we don't have money enough for special transportation systems. Most money we have is gotten from the government only if they see a need. Having a rail system might be the most expensive project you can do for a city, and if that city is still worried about protection from flooding and hurricanes, and have a hard time enough getting money for that, they sure won't be able to afford to construct a different system. Anyway, thanks for all you do.
  • Oct 9 2011: Well, your city is huge- it might as well be a separate country on its own. Trying to renovate an entire region that includes many cities will have to use a different route than if it was just 1 city. Doing something that excites and brings everyone from different cities together in order to be excited and have pride is what you need when you are a very large region. It is great that y'all were able to do that and now you can be an example for all the world to follow. I think what your region needed was glue to bring together all the different cities and that was done in an optimum way that excites all people.
  • Oct 9 2011: This is a great topic with so many variants of useful undertakings. First just one questions, is the 'Dortmunder Bier' immer noch so gut? Cities are a necessity, they provide thehub of existence for too many people. Take Berlin for an example, then take just fifty percent of its population and move them into the country sides. All you are creating are satellite or bedroom communities. Environmentally totally unsound in administration, development of infrastructure from electricity to fast access to emergency services. If you remember Brasilia, grand ideas, it was doomed to be a economic ghost town. Roads to and from, built like our famous Autobahn have grass growing through the concrete. The environment suffered and still is suffering. I strongly believe we just have to amend our ideas for a city. Here in Vancouver we have started to a small extend. Green space is added onto large roof tops, low energy housing is being built to reduce the carbon foot print and public transit is electrified and on rails. Cars are now becoming secondary transportation and the rivers have been cleaned up. If you reduce cities you must realise the loss of agricultural land, the loss of food production and the cost of importing or transporting the essentials. You loose the neighbourhoods that have so much contributed to the overall make up of, lets say, Germany. Germany has modernised most industry, but still inceased to negative development tenfold when the DDR joined the West Deutschland. The social costs would be devastating, can you remember
    the hard times the East Berliner experienced after 1989? I can! Modern cities are not the solution, modernising existing ones is something I do prefer. After the chechen war in the late 90's a new citi was built to handle government and new living space, after the near total destruction of Grozny. Today Magas is till nearly empty, it was impossible to remove a population that still had ancesters buried there. Upgrade your environment, modernise.
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      Oct 9 2011: "Dortmunder Bier" - it is not even existing anylonger, I am afraid to say. No "UNION" Bier - the Union Brewery feel empty some 15 years ago after being sold to an international investor (the old story). Then media artist made exhibitions in the empty building, the roof unfixed. But some 15 years later the state turned it into a center for art and creativity - with a mix of two university, a film-institute and cinema, a museum and the media art association and a programm to foster the surrounding quarters.

      2010lab provides a lifecam to see the largest outside mediaart installation on top of the building - a tribut to the mental makers of buildings reconstruction. http://bit.ly/phPcm9 (also engl. films on the opening last year).

      East Berlin after 1989 - I can remember and I can not agree more: upgrade environment and modernise - and I might add: Invest in Mindsets, in Peoples Spirit.

      Vancouver - any link where we can see / read the trends you describe?
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        Oct 9 2011: "Vancouverites want to live in a city that is vibrant,
        affordable and sustainable. They cherish the beauty
        of this spectacular setting, and rely on the prosperity
        that has been created from abundant natural resources.
        They also hope that tomorrow will be at least as
        good as today, perhaps even better. They want an
        environment that is healthy for themselves – and for
        their children – and they want jobs that are rewarding
        and secure. They work hard in the prosperous
        present and they deserve a bright, green future.

        Why green? Because in the highly competitive, highly
        mobile modern world, the elements that make a community
        healthy also make it wealthy. Functionally, a
        compact, efficient city with a well-organized transportation
        system and a light environmental footprint
        is cheaper to run and easier to maintain."

        http://vancouver.ca/greenestcity/PDF/Vancouver2020-ABrightGreenFuture.pdf

        I didn't take the time to read the entire thing, but given that it's on the cities webpage, I assume that it includes all of the cities current and planned green initiatives.
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          Oct 10 2011: Great wordings ! I always tend to distrust city announcements, I have to admit. However I find convincing how Vancouver brings together in this text moral arguments (health and wealth) with a practical view (cheaper to run).

          Is it true? - the new green city will not be built by better values (alone) if it is not cheaper than the cities today.
  • Oct 7 2011: Maybe it would help if people were willing to drive on curvy roads instead of a gridded road, in that the curvy roads would be more organic and look natural in a naturalistic city. It would have to be done in a way as to still have stoplights and not cause accidents. Otherwise, I don't prefer the the way that Trams/ above ground subway systems look and the busyness feeling they exude. Unless it is a resort city destination, sky trams are too busy for a natural setting.
    I imagine that if everyone could own an electric powered car that cities will shift outwards; maybe people will ask for faster speed limits and then there will be an explosion of new cities popping up in rural areas. It would change our landscape because more people would then have more living space and cities could afford to include lots of green space without running people off because of a lower price to drive.
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      Oct 8 2011: I get your thought: lower transportation costs will result in more transportation. but in the end the sum of all transportation costs might be as high as before!
      Don´t we need a new culture of driving and transportation? Maybe higher gas prices are helpful to change individual behavior? in germany a liter of gas is well above 1,30 EURO /liter. public transportation looks quite attractive then... smile
  • Oct 7 2011: You have to weigh the cost to the benefits, but to me it seems spending lots of money to make a building look good on the outside just to attract people, purely out of interest, is not worth 10 million dollars, the money should instead be spent on simple ways that are powerful also, such as shared kitchens for a sense of community and also instead of creating a community specifically made for seniors which consists of buildings occupying a space 5 miles wide, which would be exorbitant in price, there could be rules made that allowed for senior ease of access to stores and malls and movie theatres already in place, the ones that are already there. You could install benches and sofas and sitting areas within stores such as Walmart and Target, within Movie theatre halls, and whereever else, and mark them as for 'seniors and their families only'. This would encourage families to bring out their elderly shopping and to the movies without fearing there will be no place to sit and rest. Stores are in general not welcoming to people who need to sit down a lot. By making these changes mandatory, we are inviting our seniors and their families to once again participate in life. The point is you can transfer the ideas in the video onto buildings that are already built, and that way save expense. The most important point is the social activism, not the magnificence of architectural 'wow' a building confers.
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      Oct 8 2011: great idea - elderly cinema in shopping mals.; "mixed-used-buildings".
      on your priority "wow-building over social activism" i can tell our experience in re-vitalizing the ruhr-region after the coal-mindes started closing some 25 years ago. at the beginning the large plants were refurbished as cultural places, as theatre asf... industrial culture. That was the International Building Exhibition. Really great cultural places were created - however it reached only the upper 10% of the inhabitants. that is not enough to make a future for the whole city.
      when the European Capital of Culture took place in 2010 in the ruhr region it was not about building infrastructure and places, but about participation, about sharing, about the people to participate in their city, motivated by culture. So: It was a turn around as you desribed.
  • Oct 6 2011: Okay, I watched picnicnetwork video called the Aging City, and I really liked the idea of various ages in a community building. I think the speaker was right when he said we can all benefit from the knowledge of the aged and they can benefit from us. He referred also to a tradition in China which allows you to work service work in exchange for free service work given to your family member or you when you get older. I think this is a great idea also. Of course we have to learn from the older societies like China who respect their elderly more than most countries, I think. A disadvantage would be the cost of all that architecture he suggested; I believe the architecture is reallly secondary to the community organization that would be created. When it comes to the thing that is most important for me to look for in an average city with average everything (climate, etc) I would choose greenery, that is lots of trees and natural settings. I suppose you call this 'low density' but what I am saying is taking it further. The disadvantage of this is cost of gas it would require because the city would be sprawled out and not compacted. Another thing I hate is the noise of city life. Having lots of trees and green space would quiet that down a whole lot. And a disadvantage of this is having to try to keep out businesses in order to preserve the naturalistic green spaces would block business growth and so people would have to work someplace else. And who wants to be in a city that blocks businesses from being there? Another benefit that goes unsaid is the health benefit of living in a beautiful place that is peaceful and quiet. But I realize it's only a fantasy and could not work out in this fast, driven society.
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      Oct 6 2011: Quite a point - how to balance pros and cons of various options. But do not underestimate technologies - cars can drive by 3 liter/km. this would change the equation.... electric cars are quite. maybe innovation in mobility has to come first before we see a more liveable city ?!
  • Oct 6 2011: Well Vancouver looks like a great place ot live, and I see it is a unique place that faces unique problems because of the terrain. I took a look at the map and all the houses I saw had good sized lawns. I also saw the parks. I also saw the farm land. I've never heard of a place where average home prices is a million dollars. How can so many people afford to live in Vancouver? You could get a much cheaper house in Hawaii, on an island. I'm not sure what is driving those prices up. Is everyone a millionaire? Around New Orleans, Louisiana where I am, average homes are less than 300,000. But in your case the idea of placing homes above stores makes a lot of sense. You talk about not having land to grow food, and I may be stupid but... most cities and suburbs get their food shipped into their groceries, and most farming, at least I think, for the US is done in over 80%? of the rest of the US that does not include the eastern and western major cities. I don't know what Canada does or why you are having trouble with food. I thought maybe US shipped there? Don't know much about Canada. you talk about stable weather, so maybe you are fighting the cold weather that comes to Canada, which would harm crops. Maybe, indeed, it all goes back to the fact that you are in Canada. It seems to me it sounds like you are on an island of some sort- hemmed in by sea and mountains, and the weather won't cooperate in order to be able to feed everyone. So yes, you have a unique situation. And that's what city planners love to plan for!
    • Oct 6 2011: The food issue was more of a general statement then Vancouvers need for food. Cities are usually built on prime farmland and paving over orchards.
  • Oct 6 2011: I watched The Aging City video on picnicnetwork.org and it was awesome! Lots of things I was thinking about were considered, such as sharing kitchens in order to create a better sense of community. The only problem I see with all these plans and visions is the cost must be exorbitant. Though, the kitchen idea would save money it seems.
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      Oct 6 2011: Speaking of costs: If we would know the costs of not doing it.... it might not seem so expensive ?
  • Oct 6 2011: First, assuming anyone has money enough to build a city from scratch without people already in it, I really think each individual scenario has to start with why you are in the city. Are you there for college, for vacation, to create a family, to retire, to make money privately, to make money as a business, to contribute/give back, or for no reason at all? I believe that until you know what the reason is for each person who lives there, only then can you know if the city's conditions will meet his needs. Each person will need something different.
    You can form a city based on the need to be an economic growth center for the people who care most about making money. You can form a city also for people who are concerned about the environment and who want to live close to mother nature, ie, trees, lakes, interwoven in the city. And for a college oriented city, you can focus on meetup areas, auditoriums for entertainment, sports leagues, and modern affordable apartments, discount groceries with the student in mind. It all starts with what the main purpose for the city is. Then everything builds on top of that. I guess you could call it a community first, until its population escalates.
    But mostly I believe that "city planning" will be more like an add-on game, adding on components to cities that are already established, unless you are talking about starting new cities out in the midwest from scratch.
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    Sep 23 2011: I believe that city cores, where the population is more densely packed is a benefit, while the sprawling suburbs are a crisis. Reducing the footprint of our homes, increases the amount of land and resources that can be used for other initiatives.

    What I look for first, ahead of all others, is transportation and transit. I see no benefit to anyone, when roads are clogged with commuters who sit around with idling engines. Population density makes public transit for more efficient and easier to plan, and if done correctly, reduces the distance between a persons home and work.

    Health, safety, and education are also very important. With population density, hospitals and schools are closer to people, and police are more efficient as they protect more people, in a smaller space.

    The disadvantage is your personal freedom. Sharing walls with people means that you must be polite to your neighbours, even when you don't want to. You're privacy is slighty reduced, but at the same time, that reduction in privacy leads to an increase in safety as you learn what is usual for your neighbours, and you are more aware when something out of the ordinary occurs.

    In my view, ideal would be apartments on top of businesses. Where the first floor is occupied by shops, which are viewable from the street. The next few floors occupied by office space. While the top floors are apartment style housing. Industrial work is to be set up in a nearby location, easily accessed by public transit. If a large company wants, they could also set up their own private transit. Have employees meet at a designated location, and picked up by a company shuttle. The remaining land can be set aside for parks, agriculture, and forests for lumber.
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      Sep 24 2011: You pointed out pro and con of density in city - agreed, especially on the trade off between privacy and security !
      However review for a minute WHOSE density you mean - density of elderly is quite different of young familys and students. Other services for transportation or shoping or health care are involved - and where young people feel secure elderly do not !
      Your Appartment - Mix - Idea of shoping, business and living might apply also to the generations? The older live in ground floor - the youngest under the roof? The health service for elderly could be in the same house - instead of offices?
      Do you think the people today would accept more generation houses? Is the trend of individualism not going the other way ?
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        Sep 25 2011: I am most comfortable when surrounded by like minded people. People who are similar to myself in their view of the world. I also feel the most secure, when I feel the most comfortable. I assume that same holds true for everyone. That elderly are more comfortable with elderly, and the youth are more comfortable with youth. Density currently occurs across all ages. The young are required to have roommates in order to meet financial demands, while elderly congregate at seniors centers.

        Yes the office space could easily be switched to basic medical services. I said offices, merely to separate it from the service industry, and residential space. Shops are easily replaced with restaurants. The height of the buildings also have a large impact, and that would all depend on how large the city is already, and is expecting to be.

        I do not know how accepting people would be of being grouped together. One positive note, is a space close to where I live. There is a two block, by two block section, which is exclusively filled with seniors only apartments. There are signs as you enter the area, saying that it is a seniors area, and has a reduced speed limit. It has a couple different seniors centers, as well as the cities lawn bowling club. I believe that people choose it, when they believe that it will best suit their needs. Young families are drawn to elementary schools, youth to college or party areas, and elderly to health and safety. In my son's grade 1 class, half of his classmates reside in the apartment complex across the street from the school.

        I can not speak on individualism everywhere, but where I live, there is a trend towards density. People are defining themselves by what they do in their free time. They meet up with friends uptown, as opposed to inviting people over to their house. You go for a yoga class, then coffee afterwards. You arrive early at a community soccer game, to talk and debate with friends.
        • Oct 6 2011: May I suggest that since most students take out loans just to attend college, and most seniors have no money left to even buy medicine, that city planning could include affordable housing for students and seniors. Instead of architects looking at how to make a house more expensive and intriguing, let's put them to work on how to make homes more affordable, and apartments affordable. No more granite countertops and stainless steel dishwashers, 12 foot ceilings, thousand dollar kitchen cabinets, trendy faucets, etc. Let's not make rental- and life- difficult for our students and elderly. There should be a standard of cleanliness and working order, and also a limit on how much landlords can charge these people per square foot. Simpler, easier, less expensive, affordable, and all are welcome= happier retirements and happier students.
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        Sep 30 2011: You could have neighbourhoods, where all the buildings are the same height. Then put mirrors on the roofs, and have a solar farm on top of the city.

        Could also have bike parking stations, where bikes equipped with self charging batteries (the ones that charge off of the rotation of the wheel) can be parked. But rather then charging the battery, the batteries power would be drawn out, and put into the power grid of the city. No idea how much electricity would actually be created if a large population were to all do it... but it sure sounds good in theory.
        • Oct 6 2011: Sounds like you have the makings of an environment-conscious and health-conscious community. Why not go all out with farmer's markets, personal gardening space, community gyms/fitness clubs, sports complexes, tree-lined bike paths, public outdoor pools, and apartments that encircle a web of green space.
    • Oct 6 2011: Your theory assumes that economic growth and business is more important than quality of life, in that it is not particularly appealing to live on top of a business for the sake of 'saving land' in the country. Many citizens prefer to have land, lawns, and trees.
      Also, public transportation, even as a given, does not solve social ills, though it does allow people to not have to own cars.
      I believe that in order to solve social ills- or at least to help them, a city must be conducive to relaxation, play, and to our souls by including plenty of parks, trees, greenery, and by reducing the amount of people that are piled on top of each other in one building. There should be a standard for maximum noise pollution on every street, and everyone should just be allowed to relax.
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        Oct 6 2011: My theory wasn't based off of placing economic growth ahead of quality of life. It was about placing the needs of quality of life, ahead of the wants. Food is a need, not a want. A lawn is a want, not a need. As I said, that shift is currently occurring where I live. Vancouver has maxed out its space. We are hemmed in by the mountains, ocean, and american border. If we want more single occupancy homes, it comes at the cost of a farmers field. Even when the field is removed for more housing, they put in town houses. The places back onto an alley, and have a tiny front "yard". The lawn is just for show, as it's too small to be actually used for anything. The "want" that so many citizens prefer, costs over a million dollars here.

        I believe we are close to facing that same maxing of space on a global level. That in order to make space for people, it often comes at the cost of space for food. The other downside is that the best places to grow food, are also the places that most people want to live as they have the most stable weather. We can't have both a farm, and a house, occupying the same space. On the other hand, we CAN have both a business and a house occupy the same space. Also, there are already many ways to cancel out noise pollution. It starts with properly insulating the living space.

        But just the financial side of it. Would you choose to spend a million on a sixty year old, two bedroom house? Or a quarter of that on a brand new apartment? Think of how much earlier you could retire if you put that $750,000 towards you RRSPs? Or how many vacations you could go on?

        There is also the length of the commute to consider. How long are you willing to drive, in order to have a lawn? Frankly, I haven't missed the lawn at all. I live a block away from a large park, two blocks away from a "nature trail", and I can to them at any time. What good is a lawn, when you spend your entire day in your car, commuting to and from work?
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      Sep 21 2011: that is a great tipp and supports our discussion. see the video on:

      "The Smartest Cities Will Use People as Their Sensors" - http://bit.ly/qjfhiV
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        • Oct 6 2011: I agree that city problems and social problems are of course man-made problems. It is very hard to make a distinction between a city problem and a people problem. Crime is one example. Health is another. An abundance of fast food restaurants are helpful in one way and also harmful. How far can a city planner go when it comes to choosing which restaurants can be in that city? My point is, how much control can a city planner have? He can't refuse businesses to come on his turf. He can't control what a city does for money. And yet this is directly linked to health. And crime is created from not having role models, parents, and money, and an education, and access to psychiatry and counselors; and also created from not having any recreational activities, and having poor schools, poor teachers. So to say it is created by the physical layout of the city is going too far. Although I would suggest lakes and trees would certainly be a benefit.
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    Sep 19 2011: What about communities
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      Sep 19 2011: Communities, Metropoles, Regions and Towns - they all could be included in the question. You are right.

      I thought it would be too large and confusing to go for the round-up. I selected "cities" because I believe they are more relevant to our future then the other forms of urbanism.

      What do you think? Communities are more relevant than Cities for our future?