Reinventing the Future: Designing Urban 3.0

By Cohen, Michael A. | Harvard International Review, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Reinventing the Future: Designing Urban 3.0


Cohen, Michael A., Harvard International Review


Cities in the 2 1st century are both the promise of economic opportunity and social welfare, and the sites of massive poverty, deepening inequality, and social exclusion. This disturbing urban paradox must be resolved if the future is to become one of hope and progress and not a horizon of menace.

The urbanization of developing countries is transforming global climate, landscapes, societies, and cultures. The strong pull of cities and towns for higher wages and quality of life has emptied rural areas and provided higher incomes, education, health status, longevity, and, for many, liberation from the limitations of rural life.

Some writers such as Edward Glaeser or Jeb Brugmann sing of the u triumph of the city" or the "urban revolution/' The world has changed and its new benefits should be understood and praised. This is true, but these observers fail to devote enough attention, outrage, and urgency to the dark side of urbanization, to the billions of people lacking adequate water and sanitation, housing, and, most importantly, decent employment. So too do they minimize the responsibility of government in helping to solve the problems for its most vulnerable citizens. This dark side is not just an exaggerated dystopic view of cities, such as those expressed by Mike Davis or what Ruth Glass called "cliches of urban doom," but rather a massive grinding poverty affecting millions of urban residents.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The above praise for cities is for an outdated urban model which fails to recognize that cities are now operating on a radically different economic, social, and cultural ecology than the city of the 20th century. Cities in the 21st century are faced with overcoming failed urban legacies, with their extended and energy-intensive form, their alarming and dangerous contribution to climate change, their multiple forms of inequality and exclusion, and their inability to provide decent livelihoods for a large share of the world's population.

A New Global Turn

It should not be surprising that people who have "arrived" in the "promised land" are deeply frustrated by their inability to enjoy the opportunities and quality of life that the city provides to a fortunate few. This perception is well-captured in the Kenyan proverb, "Those who have arrived have a long way to go." But what is new is that this frustration no longer belongs only to people in poor countries but is now reflected in the middle class in rich countries such as the United States, where real incomes have declined significantly over the last two decades, and in Europe where mass demonstrations reflect unhappiness with growing austerity, unemployment, and uncertainty. All of this is succinctly captured in the decision of Time Magazine to declare the "Protester" as Man of the Year for 2011.

These frustrations are dramatically heard from the Arab Spring to los indignados in Spain to Occupy Wall Street, to the polarization of the 99 percent and the other 1 percent. As people flow into Tahrir Square, Plaza del Sol, or Zuccotti Park, they are expressing solidarity with their fellow citizens and criticizing government policies that have failed to moderate the growing gap between rich and poor. The urban question for the twenty-first century must be: how do cities operate to support the needs of the 99 percent?

The last two decades have been characterized by the perceived power and exaggerated optimism of observers such as Thomas Friedman about the prospects of globalization, and more recently by a growing understanding of the downsides of connectivity, asymmetric interdependence, and inequalities. A shopkeeper in Buenos Aires knows that the debt negotiations in Greece will affect her business and now she can follow this news hour by hour on the internet. As Argentine historian Margarita Gutman has pointed out, unlike a century earlier, tomorrow is no longer expected to be an improvement over today.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reinventing the Future: Designing Urban 3.0
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.