Convergence from my reading pile…
- Richard Florida: Who’s Your City: How the creative economy is making where to live the most important decision of your life, 2008.
- Jonah Lehrer, NYTimes Magazine, A Physicist Solves the City, Dec. 19, 2010.
- John McKnight and Peter Block: The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods, 2010.
Each author talks about cities and neighborhoods, and residents’ decisions about where to live and how to live within their communities. They all reference Jane Jacob‘s pioneering work in community and urban planning. And each is well worth reading.
The Times article examines the research of Geoffrey West who is developing equations that he claims describe cities… parallel to the laws of physics. E.g., “whenever a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity… increases by 15 percent per capita.” Which leads to the idea that moving a person to bigger and bigger cities will make her more and more economically productive.
Richard Florida’s book is full of interesting survey data. Take a look at his maps. Here’s a sample…
Finally, the most compelling and visionary of the lot to this reader is The Abundant Community. McKnight and Block, from a lifetime of experience lay out their case for “a new possibility for each of us to live a more satisfying life” by joining “our neighbors to live and create a community that nurtures our family and makes us useful citizens.” Lots of tactics and examples placed in a useful framework. Many neighborhoods and rural towns in Vermont are using Front Porch Forum in this way and it’s beautiful to behold.