Random readings on society, politics and change – Jorge Carrillo
Merely critiquing cities’ unsustainable throughputs is not enough, and mistaking them as parasites is even worse because it usually precipitates highly ineffective solutions (e.g., making cities less city-like). We must not retreat from the city. Cities contain within them the seeds for overcoming their negative externalities. Catalyzing such a transformation requires harnessing agglomeration advantages and tapping into the variety that compact, mixed-use cities offer.
How can cities and their residents understand that their daily behavioural choices matter for global sustainability aspirations? The solution is not as superficial as increasing the efficiency of infrastructure alone or telling people to consume less. Too few cities actually provide sufficient infrastructure or incentive for their citizens to have many choices, much less truly sustainable ones. We can’t very well expect urbanites to cycle more often without safe infrastructure in place. We can’t expect motorists to drive less without alternatives in place. And we can’t expect young people to consume less energy if cities do not meet their demand for affordable, multifamily housing stock in city centers.
First we need to address two significant obstacles at the extremes of the classic sociological polarity: one related to ‘structure’ (both sociologically and spatially) and the other related to ‘agency’.
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