Whitehead and the City
Springboards for Reflection on the Role of Cities
in an Ecological Civilization
compiled by Jay McDaniel
by 2050 seventy percent of the world's population will be urban
Sustainable Cities on the Rise
"China, like several other countries, is exploring the creation of sustainable urban areas, or “ecocities” as they are known. Around the world, ecocities are beginning to emerge from the drawing board, from Masdar City in Abu Dhabi to PlanIT Valley in Portugal. Aimed at being the world’s largest of its type, Tianjin Eco-city is a collaborative project between the Chinese and Singaporean government that will house 350,000 people in a low-carbon, green environment around half the size of Manhattan by 2020. All going well, the team hope its model for building a sustainable city will provide the blueprint for future urbanization efforts in China, and other countries...It strikes me that social inclusivity is perhaps Tianjin’s most novel and important mission. One fifth of the housing will be subsidised for low-wage workers and their families. "We want to avoid the idea that this is a haven for rich people or second-homers from Beijing," says Ho. "Being green isn't a luxury, it's an affordable necessity. This city should be a practical, replicable, scalable model for elsewhere in China and the world."
Recipe for a healthy community
Why are there cities?
"Cities exist because we – that is, “humankind” – are able to build things together, and music was among the first things we ever built together. The capacities to coordinate and synchronize our actions, to incorporate each other’s rhythms, to make choices together in real time – to groove and to improvise – these are human skills, not merely musical skills. These are the foundations of what is called civilization."
Aims of a Whiteheadian city
The aims of a Whiteheadian city are to serve the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of people close at hand and faraway, and to serve the well-being of the Earth.
Spirit of a healthy city
Bread. A clean sky. Active peace. A woman's voice singing somewhere. The army disbanded. The harvest abundant. The wound healed. The child wanted. The prisoner freed. The body's integrity honored. The lover returned....Labor equal, fair and valued. No hand raised in gesture but greeting. Secure interiors - of heart, home, and land -- so firm as to make secure borders irrelevant.
The Developing Vision of Essex, Vermont
Five Arguments for Urban Agriculture
by Rohit Kumar
I love suburbia not for what it is, but for what it could be. While most other houses on my street have grass lawns, my yard sprouts zucchinis, tomatoes, pomegranates, kale, spinach, apples, figs, guavas, almonds, garlic, onion, strawberries, and more. Over 500 plant species all in all. We grow more than 3000 pounds of food per year on a plot of land the size of a basketball court—enough fruits and vegetables to feed my family of four year-round. Our house is part of a growing global movement of people involved in urban farming.
1. Renewed local economies. Local neighbor-to-neighbor commerce generally doesn’t happen in our communities. Residential areas almost never include common spaces where community exchanges might happen. Likewise, because selling homemade bread to your neighbors is illegal in most areas, the law discourages community commerce, and instead encourages you to purchase from the supermarket chain.
In my own community, the urban farming movement has reinvigorated local commerce. Instead of buying oranges, I now trade pumpkin for oranges from my neighbor’s tree. If urban farming continued to grow, it would cause a massive and positive economic disruption by introducing local food production that would compete with the corporate mainstream on price, quality, convenience, and level of service.
2. Environmental stewardship. Industrial agriculture is a major source of fossil fuel pollution. Petrochemicals are used to fertilize, spray, and preserve food. Plastics made from oil are used to package the food, and gasoline is used to transport food worldwide. Urban farming unplugs us from oil by minimizing the transport footprint and using organic cultivation methods.
While industrial agriculture often maneuvers to avoid paying for environmental externalities, urban farmers directly bear the ecological costs of their actions. This makes urban farmers better stewards of their land because they draw their nutrition from it. Rather than using chemicals that destroy soil biology, urban farming culture stresses sustainable organic techniques that enrich the topsoil.
3. A focus on local politics. Urban farming makes it clearer and easier for people to be involved in local politics by bringing issues that directly affect neighborhoods to the fore. Local regulations become far more relevant to the day-to-day life of a person attempting to cultivate their own food than most issues normally discussed on CNN. The growth of urban farming has already resulted in large-scale legal pushes like the California Cottage Food Act, which will allow people to legally sell certain homemade goods like jams and breads. Other neighborhood issues such as the raising of chickens, beekeeping for the production of honey, or the chlorination of water are already in the sights of urban farmers and environmentalists alike.
4. A revolution of health and nutrition. Increased awareness about the negative health effects of food from the industrial food chain is itself a big reason why urban farmers grow their own food. When you feed your produce to your family, you’re less likely to douse it in poisons. Local food has more freshness, flavor, and nutrient retention because it goes through less transportation and processing. As the urban farming movement grows, it will mean more accessibility to nutritious local food and more time spent doing the healthy physical work of gardening. This could result in less obesity, less chronic disease, and decreased healthcare spending.
5. A flowering of community interaction. Urban farming is a lifestyle inherently centered on community. Growing food is, after all, a cooperative effort. In my own community, I see that the knowledge of how and what to grow is exchanged, seeds are swapped, labor is shared, and the harvest is traded. As urban farming grows, a stronger interdependence within communities is likely to result as local food systems bring more community interaction into people’s daily lives.
The most important movement of our time. Although there are many other notable initiatives today, the influence of urban farming is uniquely widespread because more people live in cities than rural areas and food is a central necessity that affects everything at once. The seeds of change are already being planted in homes like mine across the world. For these seeds to grow and blossom, we need to demand more local food so that the market for urban-grown produce expands. We also need to put pressure on our legal system to allow easier local trade and more local food production.
Imagine if we grew food instead of grass. Every community is a local food economy waiting to come to life. The answer to climate change, the health crisis, and the recession economy is right outside your door. I’ll meet you at the garden fence.
The Inescapability of Urban Moods
A Map of New York City's Moods
CAMBRIDGE (Aug 20, 2013) — Imagine having your finger on the pulse of an entire city, in real time. To see its heartbeat -- changes in people opinions and moods -- as a cascade of color, sweeping over the terrain. Researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) used the explosion of data from Twitter to take snapshots of the mood of New York City, and follow its ups and downs in real time and high resolution.
New York's Moods
The Importance of Moods
Moods in Whitehead's Philosophy
The basis of experience is emotional: In Whitehead's philosophy human experience is a matter of feeling (prehending) and responding to different objects of experience: other people, animals and plants, streets and buildings, hills and rivers, inherited memories, future possibilities, abstract ideas. We feel their presence and they influence us in our feeling of them. Something we think about the things we feel; for Whitehead even thinking is a form of feeling: that is, feeling the presence of ideas. Amid our feeling (prehending) of things we have emotional responses to what we feel. These emotional responses are our moods.
Cities influence the Brain
social crowding, social fragmentation and noise may be factors
in determining the level of stress and anxiety in a city
Source: The Guardian
Designing for Conviality
Pando Populus is a platform for people who care about big ideas and the Earth. Our aim is to create an ecological civilization.We’ve taken our name from the largest and oldest organism on the planet — a giant quaking aspen tree, spread over more than a hundred acres, thousands of years old, connected by a single root system.Various movements and organizations focus on one aspect or another of ecological concern. We endorse and celebrate their work.
Sustainable Cities: Environmental and Social
A sustainable city is sustainable in two senses: environmental and social. Environmentally, it exerts a minimum impact on the more-than-human dimensions of the world (hills, rivers, trees, atmosphere, habitats for wild creatures) given the limits of the earth to absorb pollution and supply provides a context for creative collaboration resources. Socially, it is creative, compassionate, participatory, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying, with no one left behind.
The Role of Design in Shifting Civilization
In this short video from The New York Times, Frank Gehry talks about the transformative power of art. He uses the example of his designs for the new Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi:
Seizing an Alternative
What is Arcosanti?
John Cobb on Cities