10 March 2010

It Doesn't Need to be This Way

To our considerable misfortune, the pleasures of the city have been largely reduced to consumerism. We don't much enjoy our cities because they're not very enjoyable. The mode of urban life that has become our principal cause of illness resembles a pressure cooker without its essential safety valve. Our urban environment is like an engine that runs hot because it was designed without a cooling system. -Ray Oldenberg, The Great Good Place, 1989, page 10


Randy Simes said...

Love that book. It's very true what is quoted here. Our cities have been designed as economic engines and have been built around economic activity and efficiency and not people.

So often the human spirit and human interaction is not efficient, and rarely does it resemble the engine of economic activity. Humans are complex, diverse, unmanageable, and unique beings that should not be planned for in such a utilitarian way.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's what our entire culture is becoming. Ever hear social services professionals refer to their clients/patients as "consumers"?

What about the whole charter/voucher school trend? Schools aren't a communual, shared undertaking, a joint responsibility, they're organizations that are supposed to compete against one another for market share.

Etc., etc.

Blue Ash Mom

5chw4r7z said...

Whats the alternative?
Go back to the days of the Indians?
I think things have changed just a little bit since 1989. I can't imagine too many more relaxing ways to spend time than sitting on my deck, drinking coffee, reading and watching the world go by.

I have a feeling city dwellers have a more relaxed lifestyle than people in the xburbs. Everything I do is a leasurely walk, whereas I hear co-workers complain bitterly of spending all evening in the car shuttling kids, shopping what not.
What a crappy way to live.

CityKin said...

I'll probably follow with some more relevant quotes from this book. Yes things have changed since 1989, but much of his criticism still rings true. And when he criticizes "cities" he includes the suburbs.

The book is about so called "third places" and his first anecdote is about a public skating rink that he fondly recalls as a child. So you can see that he would support places such as Fountain Square filling this void in our cities.

Dave said...

A German who returned after his recent graduation from college near Los Angeles explained to me..."I miss the beaches and sunshine in California but I have a better quality of life socially here in urban Germany". Have also spoken to an Italian woman who was surprised you had to drive so much to get anywhere in America..."very different from the concentration of housing/shopping/public transportation in Europe". But both of them complain about the high taxes they must pay, much much higher than the good ole USA, for the lives they lead in Europe.