Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Separation and Cities

During the 18th century, smog, soot and waste from factories made cities very unpleasant places. The solution was to separate out the different parts of the city.

The school of separation believed that the good life can only be achieved by separating the various functions of the city, so that certain people can avoid the worst of its toxicity.
Separation was the natural response to the Industrial Revolution, which created cities, choking on soot and sewage (Charles Montgomery, Happy City, p.64).

The design of our modern cities is still based on a principle of separation of activities, even though the problems it was designed to deal with have been solved. Industry is one part of the city. Retail in another. Old people in rest homes. Residential areas are together in another place. People are forced to move from place to place in the city during their day. The automobile made this possible, but it leaves out lives disconnected and fragmented.

To bring in the kingdom, we will have to restore and re-integrate our modern cities. Most production is no longer ugly, so it does not need to be in a separate place. We will have to bring work back to where people live. Some people have already chosen to work from home. With de-industrialisation, we will see more work back in the places where we live.

Consumerism needs big temples. The collapse of consumerism will make these redundant. Retail and production will both be brought back to where we live. And of course, churches will be where we live too.


Unknown said...

Wow. I thought I was the only person who thought like this.

Something in me is very attracted to cities and I don't know why. I have a book called "The Meaning of the City" by Jacques Ellul, but I haven't read it yet.

I've added Happy Cities to my wish list. Any other recommendations?

Ron McK said...

God loves cities. A city comes down from heaven at the end of the Bible.