I’ve always wondered where the myth of the “nature-starved city kid” originated. Who first penned the story about urbanites who are chronically disconnected from their natural environments, and how has this parable persisted into the present day?
The concept ‘community of practice’ is underpinned by an assumption that learning is a social process rather than a passive act of knowledge transfer between a knowledge giver (usually a master, expert or teacher) and a knowledge receiver (usually an apprentice, a novice or student).
Perhaps the biggest challenge is that we may have to actually change our superstructures — our values, beliefs, and expectations for the future—and our socio-political and economic structures first in order to have an infrastructure that supports a functioning and sustainable community.
In 2010, Detroit launched a 24-month visioning process intended to engage a high percentage of Detroit’s 700,000 residents in the crafting of a 50-year framework for Detroit’s future. Instead of focusing on bad things to be removed, this process focused on building on Detroit’s many assets.
The world is becoming increasingly urban and cities face a constant struggle with the complex environmental, social, economic, and political challenges of the 21st century. Many international organizations have argued that cities will need to become more resilient to these challenges. However, it is not particularly clear what that really means.
Instead, we’re going to continue to do more of what we’ve been doing. And it’s going to fail. Not tomorrow. Not next year. But eventually the whole big pile of overly leveraged 12,000 mile supply chain debt-soaked tech extravaganza is going to break down and crash of its own dead weight. When we finally get back up and dust ourselves off, we’ll have no choice but to reinvent things.
My approach, as always, is to try and understand the way past societies prospered despite being comprised of flawed humans—people with all the same shortcomings we have today. When we do that, one thing we quickly realize is that the Traditional Development approach – the way we built cities for thousands of years prior to the past century– was a good party, while our modern approach, what we call the Suburban Experiment, is a really bad party.
It is no wonder that there was a new energy in the debate concerning the question of resilience, and how to ensure that if — and when — such disasters arrive again, we are more prepared.