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Towards a Cultural Urbanism- CNU 19 NextGen Panel Preview

Like the flags in Rockefeller Plaza, urbanism should represent many cultures

On April 18th  I happened upon this post-on popular urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington. The author in my opinion just wanted to get people talking about solutions to the problems DC residents are facing with the loss of the Chocolate City identity. It made me think back to when I published my article in Grist in December. In the editing stages, I was alerted to the fact that the urbanism I was presenting was not necessarily “textbook” urbanism. However, as many of us have learned, outside of some math theories and problems and a few truly accepted scientific laws (note I said laws, not theories), there is not much that people can agree on as absolute truth in the public sphere. Yet, until we can come to a consensus on what urbanism and associated terms such as new urbanism, smart growth, transit oriented development and even sprawl are, then we are in trouble.

This June at the Congress of New Urbanism 19 Next Gen Day 9, I’m gathering together a set of folks who are committed to incorporating the cultures of their birth into the way buildings are planned. We all recognize that urbanism is more than pretty building and pretty trains. Urbanism is also the fact that some strip centers are at 100% density, but with stores run by immigrants selling objects from the old world and some from the new in a way that relates to people. It’s also recognizing how all income levels and cultural backgrounds can benefit from things like bike trails, clean sidewalks and easier walkability.

Instead of name-calling, let’s all dig deeper into our psyche. Realize that some people are trying to make it from sunrise to sunset without losing a job, losing a child or losing a life, especially if they are suffering from chronic illness. Some people would like not to drive and others can’t wait for a car, because that’s been touted as what the successful people do. Because our discourse has been defined by what mainstream(read mostly “white” and rich) people think are best (and has been horribly wrong), then many cultures will never accept what an  or anyone in authority says, despite the fact it may truly be the best solution this time. We need to get to a point where we take all the best of our cultures and let the best idea dominate the conversation, not the channel where it comes from. We can respect our elders, without necessarily following their entire lead.

Our presentation and panel is on June 1st, 9AM. The entire NextGen day is no charge. I’ll be in town all week so be sure to find me to connect.

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