chapter  6
26 Pages

Building community: New Urbanism, planning and democracy

In the context of the urban landscape, every design and planning decision is

a value proposition, and a proposition that has to do with social and political

relationships.

David Brain (2005: 233)

Americans have precious little respect for their built environment, probably

because they can rebuild a pretty convincing replica in a more convenient

location. And besides, not every city is art-rich or beautiful to look at. What

cities give us are collisions – collisions that often have startling, though not

unpleasant, results. They are the clashes that create culture and facilitate the

birth and transmission of ideas. They remind us that there are alternatives to

private life, private space, and private pursuits. This is not an easy basis for a

defense of city life, but it is the right one if we are to see clearly what cities

give us that the suburbs cannot.