This book is a lively, readable account of two revealing figures in the history of that renaissance: the urban economist Jane Jacobs and the architect Christopher Alexander. Their key insights have shaped several generations of scholars, professionals, and activists. However, as the book argues, this renaissance is still immature, and more must be done to achieve its promise -- especially in an age of rapid, often sprawling urbanization.
The author is a noted scholar on both Jacobs and Alexander, and a participant in the development of the "New Urban Agenda," a historic United Nations agreement emphasizing the pivotal role of cities and towns in meeting the challenges of the future. As the book documents, Jacobs and Alexander played key roles in formulating the conceptual insights behind the New Urban Agenda, and they continue to offer us crucial implementation lessons for the years ahead.
This book is ideal for students, professionals, government officials, activists, and anyone who is interested in the future of cities. The author, Michael W. Mehaffy, Ph.D., is currently Senior Researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and Director of the Future of Places Research Network. He is a popular educator, speaker and author with periodic appointments in seven graduate institutions in six countries, and a consultant in sustainable urban development with an international practice. This is his third book.
This global consciousness inspires space travellers who then provide emotional and spiritual observations. Their views from outer space awaken them to a grand realization that all who share our planet make up a single community. They think this viewpoint will help unite the nations of the world in order to build a peaceful future for the present generation and the ones that follow.
Many poets, philosophers, and writers have criticized the artificial borders that separate people preoccupied with the notion of nationhood. Despite the visions and hopes of astronauts, poets, writers, and visionaries, the reality is that nations are continuously at war with one another, and poverty and hunger prevail in many places throughout the world, including the United States.
So far, no astronaut arriving back on Earth with this new social consciousness has pro- posed to transcend the world's limitations with a world where no national boundaries exist. Each remains loyal to his/her particular nation-state, and doesn’t venture beyond patriotism - "my country, right or wrong" – because doing so may risk their positions.
Most problems we face in the world today are of our own making. We must accept that the future depends upon us. Interventions by mythical or divine characters in white robes descending from the clouds, or by visitors from other worlds, are illusions that cannot solve the problems of our modern world. The future of the world is our responsibility and depends upon decisions we make today. We are our own salvation or damnation. The shape and solutions of the future depend totally on the collective effort of all people working together.
Although many of us feel we can prepare for our future by thinking, acting, and learning using present methods and values, nothing is farther from the truth – especially in today’s rapidly changing world. A newborn child enters a world not of his or her own making. Each succeeding generation inherits the values, accomplishments, hopes, successes, and failings of previous generations. And they inherit the results of the decisions made by those generations.
For the hundreds of thousands of years of human existence when technologies were simple or non-existent, this may have had little impact on human life and the earth that sustains it. Each generation of hunters and gatherers, then plowmen and pioneers, passed on tools to the next generation to help them survive. Change from one generation to the next was slow and hardly noticeable. In those days there was little understanding of science and how things worked, and explanations were not scientific.
This is no longer the case in today’s high-tech world where a change that affects millions may happen in a matter of seconds. A child born today inherits a world vastly different from that of its parent’s generation, let alone that from centuries ago. Previous generations left a legacy of, exploitation, occupation, and irrelevant values that present great challenges, but also opportunities to the people of today.
The application of scientific principles, for better or worse, accounts for every single advance that has improved people’s lives. Important documents and proclamations have been issued granting rights and privileges to members of societies, but at the heart of human progress – or destruction – is the rock-solid foundation of science.
For generations past it was impossible to direct the future much beyond the present moment, and forecasts of the future were based on non- scientific methods. Prophets and sages presented visions of the future based on dreams, hallucinations, religious fervor, divination of animal parts, crystal balls, etc. Some may even have been accurate, but this was more because of luck than because of any direct channel to the supernatural.