Ixnay on the Oalcay
Cities need to stop burning fossils.
—Bruce Sterling, science-fiction author who helped to establish the cyberpunk genre
Cities should be built near the resources they need, such as agricultural and industrial land. Within cities there should be clusters of tall buildings, designed to leave most of the ground free to be renaturalized or left in its natural state and providing an urban park with easy access to the building dwellers. Each building or building cluster would have basic services such as commerce, administration, sports, and such. The high-density model would greatly simplify transportation and utility networks, while at the same time providing easy access to the natural world, which would be literally an elevator ride away.
Populist Purse-Strings Control
“Participatory budgeting” changes the standard operating procedures of government by involving the citizens directly in municipal budgetary decisions. The process decentralizes decision making to the subcity level by breaking down the budget along neighborhood lines, involving residents in setting priorities for local government expenditures and electing a council of delegates that is held accountable. Experience shows that the results can be more efficient use of public funds, consensus building around investments in underserved neighborhoods and a dramatic drop in corruption. This changes the rules of the game, bringing heretofore disenfranchised individuals and groups to the bargaining table and provides an alternative incentive structure for collaboration.
Porto Alegre, a city in the south of Brazil, started experimenting with this process in 1989. Since then, it has been improved and adapted in various forms by more than 1,200 municipalities elsewhere in Brazil and Latin America, as well as in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
—Janice Perlman, president of the Mega-Cities Project, a nonprofit organization that identifies and shares successful urban innovations across cities worldwide
This article was originally published with the title Street Talk.