The ethical anchor

What is the quality of the Zeitgeist seeking to emerge? At its core is a belief in thinking in a rounded way and seeing different perspectives, not putting things in separate boxes. Thinking differently also means doing things differently and sometimes means doing different things. In the struggle about what is important, those pushing this Zeitgeist seek some form of unity beyond the ding-dong of either/or arguments.5 They believe in 'seeing the wood and the trees simultaneously', with 'strategy and tactics as one'. They are able to 'operate both with the market and against the market' and to 'assess things in terms of the precautionary principle and take risks at the same time' or 'to go with the flow of ambiguity but still be clear about where you are going'. This allows them to see things in more depth. They work against compartmentalized, 'silo' thinking and the turgid bureaucracy of departmental baronies. They are against reductionism, which thinks about parts in isolation and sees the city in its parts, and instead consider the interconnected, overall dynamics, such as how socio-economic exigencies and crime inextricably interconnect. It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand wholes by focusing on the parts, yet it is possible to understand the parts by seeing the connections of the whole.

How we manage a city is in part determined by the metaphors we employ to describe it. If we think of the city as a machine made up of parts and fragments rather than as an organism made up of related, interconnected wholes, we invoke mechanical solutions that may not address the whole issue. And a mechanistic approach similarly impacts on public spirit. If, instead, we focus on the widest implications of a problem, on connections and relationships, we can make policy linkages between, say, housing, transport and work; between culture, the built environment and social affairs; between education, the arts and happiness; or between image, local distinctiveness and fun.

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