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The Faith Middleton Show
Mon July 25, 2011
Solving The City
Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Shaping Our World
by Doug Saunders
Look around: the largest migration in human history is under way. For the first time ever, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. Between 2007 and 2050, the world’s cities will have absorbed 3.1 billion people. Urbanization is the mass movement that will change our world during the twenty-first century, and the “arrival city” is where it is taking place.
The arrival city exists on the outskirts of the metropolis, in the slums, or in the suburbs; the American version is New York’s Lower East Side of a century ago or today’s Herndon County, Virginia. These are the places where newcomers try to establish new lives and to integrate themselves socially and economically. Their goal is to build communities, to save and invest, and, hopefully, move out, making room for the next wave of migrants. For some, success is years away; for others, it will never come at all.
As vibrant places of exchange, arrival cities have long been indicators of social health. Whether it’s Paris in 1789 or Tehran in 1978, whenever migrant populations are systematically ignored, we should expect violence and extremism. But, as the award-winning journalist Doug Saunders demonstrates, when we make proper investments in our arrival cities—through transportation, education, security, and citizenship—a prosperous middle class develops.
Saunders takes us on a tour of these vital centers, from Maryland to Shenzhen, from the favelas of Rio to the shantytowns of Mumbai, from Los Angeles to Nairobi. He uncovers the stories—both inspiring and heartbreaking—of the people who live there, and he shows us how the life or death of our arrival cities will determine the shape of our future.
A Physicist Solves the City
by Jonah Lehrer
The New York Times Magazine, 12/17/2010
“[Geoffrey] West set out to solve the City. As he points out, this is an intellectual problem with immense practical implications. Urban population growth is the great theme of modern life, one that’s unfolding all across the world, from the factory boomtowns of Southern China to the sprawling favelas of Rio de Janeiro. As a result, for the first time in history, the majority of human beings live in urban areas. (The numbers of city dwellers are far higher in developed countries — the United States, for instance, is 82 percent urbanized.) Furthermore, the pace of urbanization is accelerating as people all over the world flee the countryside and flock to the crowded street.
“This relentless urban growth has led to a renewed interest in cities in academia and in government. In February 2009, President Obama established the first White House Office of Urban Affairs, which has been told to develop a “policy agenda for urban America.” Meanwhile, new perspectives have come to the field of urban studies. Macroeconomists, for instance, have focused on the role of cities in driving gross domestic product and improving living standards, while psychologists have investigated the impact of city life on self-control and short-term memory. Even architects are moving into the area: Rem Koolhaas, for one, has argued that architects have become so obsessed with pretty buildings that they’ve neglected the vital spaces between them.
“But West wasn’t satisfied with any of these approaches. He didn’t want to be constrained by the old methods of social science, and he had little patience for the unconstrained speculations of architects. (West considers urban theory to be a field without principles, comparing it to physics before Kepler pioneered the laws of planetary motion in the 17th century.) Instead, West wanted to begin with a blank page, to study cities as if they had never been studied before. He was tired of urban theory — he wanted to invent urban science.” read more
And I Shall Have Some Peace There
by Margaret Roach
Margaret Roach worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for 15 years, serving as Editorial Director for the last 6. She first made her name in gardening, writing a classic gardening book among other things. She now has a hugely popular gardening blog, "A Way to Garden." But despite the financial and professional rewards of her job, Margaret felt unfulfilled. So she moved to her weekend house upstate in an effort to lead a more authentic life by connecting with her garden and with nature.
The memoir she wrote about this journey is funny, quirky, humble—and uplifting—an Eat, Pray, Love without the travel-and allows readers to live out the fantasy of quitting the rat race and getting away from it all.