The Art of City-Making is a clarion call to usher in a new spirit of the times, a new Zeitgeist, one which sees the wood and the trees simultaneously and which sees things in the round. It understands the dialectical dynamics of our creative and imaginative ecology as individuals, organizations and cities. It grasps its implications on the culture of a place. It understands what drives motivation, aspiration and will. It seeks to re-enchant the city and give it an altered resonance, where the word 'urban' is not always seen as negative ('urban crime' somehow feels worse than 'crime').
It is a world with a new ethical foundation where valuing things differently and thinking differently means doing things differently and doing different things; it sets priorities in a changed way, because it sees the fuller picture. It grasps the interconnections. It costs the environment comprehensively, for example, and does not let the economy take a free ride. So it costs resources fully and focuses on resource productivity.1
It changes the image of what being creative is and seeks to re-address its focus. It moves away from seeing the self-focused entertainment industry as its driver to looking to the vast raft of inventions waiting to happen to nurture our cities, our countryside and more. Or to the combination of creativity and courage needed to curtail crime and twist those distorted energies, talents and aspirations to more worthy aims as well as to cultivate a civic culture.
It rethinks its assets in broader terms, considering the full register of perception, emotion, insight and understanding and its effect on individual or group psychology. It can therefore see the power of intangibles like yearning, history, identity, desire, happiness, fear, confidence and much more. It is not blinded by thinking that only what you see is important, so it is not obsessed by the hardware. It values too the soft, the slow and the reflective. It flips the balance of importance between the hardware and software of cities and gives those who understand how people tick greater status. It invites the hardware folk, from traffic engineers to architects and property developers, to rethink and enrich their skills in this light.
As it revalues importance, it shifts the regulations and incentives regime to bend the market to new priorities. Then the power of markets can do what they do best: seek opportunities and fill gaps, but in the name of urban healing, knitting the fabric of cities together again. They are guided and nudged in directions that fit the values. There is no invisible hand that knows best. What a bizarre thought that such could ever have been the case? Markets have no values, but they have incredible energy. The other invisible hand of values is the motor of development.
In this world there are new heroines and heroes. They may be boxers, planners, musicians, house-builders, talent scouts, intellectuals or local historians. What celebrity means, or being cool, hip or whatever the latest phrase, is changed. Less media people talking in a dervish spin about themselves. These new role models are not boring and dull just because they see the excitement of using an ethical foundation to act.
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