Blog

Alain de Botton, philosopher and author of many wise and entertaining books including “The Architecture of Happiness”, has now produced a video on “What Makes Cities Attractive”. He calls on us all to express our opinions, and to make our city leaders accountable to the citizens, not just to the developers.

For too long, the economic GDP model has governed how we shape our cities, proposes Suzanne Lennard, and this has resulted in sprawl that is unhealthy for humans, and unsustainable for the planet. Today, the idea that the primary function of the city is to be an “economic engine” is driving cities worldwide to construct “vertical sprawl”, which is proving to be equally unhealthy and unsustainable. Suzanne calls for “Quality of Life” principles to guide the way we shape our cities. These are the principles of True Urbanism, that facilitate community social life, access to nature, and independent mobility, and that result in a hospitable, healthy and sustainable built environment.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

Festivity and celebration are essential to human life.  They are an organizing and unifying force in the social life of the neighborhood. At traditional community festivals on a neighborhood square, friends and strangers, old and young work, eat, talk, dance and sing with one another.  Divisiveness and conflict are set aside; age and social barriers are diminished.

We are delighted to hear that our friend and IMCL Board Member Dick Jackson is to be awarded the 2015 Henry Hope Reed Award for his work outside the field of architecture that has supported the traditional city. Please see Dick’s message below.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

The multi-functional neighborhood square acts as a catalyst for participatory, representational government. Civic and political discussion among diverse users of the square involves the expression of far greater diversity of opinions than is heard within the private realm. The power of the community to organize and act as a body to protect the common good is immensely strengthened by the availability of a successful neighborhood square at its heart.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

Neighborhood squares tend to promote ethical conduct, attitudes and relations. A place that belongs to the community as a whole cannot be made exclusionary. It must be welcoming and hospitable for all socio-economic, ethnic and age groups and designed to enhance their co-presence and mutual respect. Inequities of access and opportunity for use that prevail for most private indoor space are minimized on the square.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

It has long been recognized that the quality and quantity of social interaction and sense of belonging strongly influence physical and mental health. By facilitating face-to-face interaction and membership in a community, the neighborhood square improves physical and mental health for people of all ages.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

Humans are social beings. Contact with family, friends and social circles is not just pleasurable, it is essential. An individual’s very sense of self is shaped and maintained through social life. One of the most serious punishments we can inflict is solitary confinement, which can result in serious existential crisis, and deterioration of mental and physical health. And yet, inadvertently, we are still building too many urban and suburban environments that induce isolation and loneliness.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

How do children and youth learn the behavior, the attitudes, the skills that transform them into competent, responsible adults capable of, and interested in participating in the life of their community? A neighborhood square offers them an unparalleled learning environment.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

A neighborhood square builds trust and familiarity; this is self-evidently a place for dialogue and discussion, for meetings and greetings, for shared experiences and forming bonds.

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