Dream City, U.S.A.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about about my dream city. I’m not talking about what the populace sees as a dream city, but what I myself dream about:

  • Artists feel just as welcome as suit-and-tie types
  • People who want a house have a house, people who want an apartment, have an apartment. They don’t go broke getting either
  • They can all walk to the grocery store, a doctor’s office, the library and the elementary school. Transit or home delivery connects everything else
  • Something positive is going on 24-7. Even if it’s just the cafe being open all night, then serving breakfast at dawn
  • All kids get a good education, no matter how much their parents pay or their perceived ability level
  • People of faith are not marginalized, pigeonholed or encouraged to persecute others
  • Real solutions, such as community policing, youth programs and rehabilitation programs are utilized to deal with crime
  • People are paid at least a living wage and that wage increases in proportion to the greater economy
  • Politics isn’t a game for people to play, but people get involved in civic affairs for the good of the people

Not all of this is “urbanism” or “economic development” per se. I think it overlaps all these groups. You can have a Disney-like development where people walk, but if we allow street harassment of women, then we have failed at human rights.

Ultimately, my dream city has mastered providing people with basic rights, therefore, it does what’s best for the people. This is where our small markets, inclusive schools, variety of faith houses and economic opportunities come.

I am also aware that my dream city is probably Heaven. However, it does not mean that there are not places that can’t fulfill at least some of my desires in the interim. Also, this only touches on U.S. cities, but I am open to somewhere else in the world as well. Barring a few cultural and language barriers, human rights are just as important there too.

Ironically, as I was doing some research for this post, I came across this quiz:

The City That Best Fits You Is Philadelphia

  • 70% Philadelphia
  • 65% Chicago
  • 65% Boston
  • 65% Washington, DC
  • 65% San Francisco

The irony is not lost. Although the criteria is based in the reality of high-crime, educational needs, economic needs and my desires for four seasons :), it is the city of Brotherly Love. I also understand it’s had some problems lately. However, it, along with other troubled cities, are not beyond solutions. It may not be me who solves a certain problem, but there are plenty of others who are able to solve problems and I’m willing to work with them. It also sits in the middle of the Northeast corridor, the area of the U.S.A. most resistant to the current economic problems and changes, but its not the center of that universe. I can get to those centers, but I can have some privacy too. Crime and schools are failing, but once again, a consideration of human rights fixes those problems.

So what is your dream city? What happens there? I hope it starts with the consideration of basic human rights.