Tag Archives: quality of life

An Impressive GDP, Quality of Life, and Sustainability: Pick Two out of Three?

In the most simplistic statistical reading—higher GDP per capita means higher tax revenue means better funded schools means better education—there seems to be some legitimacy to the story’s thesis. I don’t think real life is so simple, however. Unqualified as I am to provide an in-depth critique of the significance of GDP or the relative educational histories of Caribbean nations, I won’t attempt to here. Besides, those things aren’t what interest me. Without questioning the intelligence, honesty, or diligence of the author, I was struck by what I perceived to be a fine example of stuck-in-system thinking.
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Posted in Climate Change, Culture, Josh Grigsby, Rants, Response Pieces, Sustainability, thinking, Uncategorized, urban design, urban planning, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beauty Kills—A Self-Rebuttal: Or, Why Joel Kotkin isn’t Always Wrong

In my recent post, Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities, I argued that beauty is an essential element of urbanism. Forget all of that for a moment; here’s the other side of the coin: beauty kills. It can turn cities into lifeless museums animated only by tourists, inhibiting creativity and innovation while exacerbating segregation and homogenization. Look at any interior design magazine spread; room upon room of artful still-life orchestration. These are rooms that pose, not rooms that are lived in. Look at fashion models, their faces inscrutable and eyes vacant. True, this is not the sort of beauty I was advocating, but an emphasis on beauty can quickly lead one astray if untempered. Beauty is essential, yes, but it can be as intoxicating as drugs, and potentially as destructive.
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Posted in Culture, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Placemaking, Rants, Response Pieces, Sustainability, Uncategorized, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities

In chapter eight of Anthony M. Tung’s erudite and impressive Preserving the World’s Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis, there is a passage that stopped me in my proverbial tracks and hasn’t left my thoughts since. Tung is writing about Amsterdam at the dawn of the 20th century:

As parts of the inner city became slums and were threatened with clearance, and as picturesque canals were filled in to create new roads and better circulation, elements of the historic environment began to be eliminated. Growing numbers of citizens became alarmed and called for preservation of the historic center. In addition, a new ring of speculative housing began to surround the old metropolis. Numerous Amsterdammers began to ask that the expansion of the city meet a reasonable standard of beauty. Continue reading

Posted in Culture, History, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Placemaking, Rants, Sustainability, Uncategorized, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments