3 Responses to rereading Ecotopia

  1. Eric Orozco June 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    “There are ideas here to excite a Tea Partier, not just an ecologist.”
    Curious, isn’t it, how constantly we encounter the urge to bring village life into the city or, as Henry Ford attempted with his Village Industries, speed to reconstitute American farm life with the industry and mobility of urbanity. Where industrial capitalists, Shaker communitarians, Castro’s Cuba, and anarchist/libertarians theorists diverge in their social theory, they absurdly don’t depart in their spatial theory. At his last ever lecture of the Theory of City Form class at MIT a couple weeks ago (a class he inherited from Kevin Lynch), Julian Beinart remarked with bemused wonder at the seeming universal recurrence of this theme among utopias and planning theories.
    Maybe it’s just our North-American/Anglo predilection to ever strain toward Ecotopia. That American intellectuals/cranks have a deep-seated ambivalence, if not hostility, toward the Big City is nothing new. In America, extending a gracious gesture toward everyday urbanity tends to so often be a contrarian stake. It takes a force field of generous sentiment, a special mantle of existential clarity, or a dislodged spirit to love urbanity in the American city. It begs the question about how to expand this middle-ground hankering for free connection without the trope of village life. How to raise this soft hammer of the ordinary gentlemen in her academies…
    Maybe it means making the effort more heroic. Announce the mission by blowing rams’ horns. Perhaps we can be emboldened to become open to sentient inconstancy and join the mildly defiant bards in this. To walk along the city’s harbors, down her lanes, and yawp, “This is the city, and I am its citizen!”

  2. Brendan June 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    I don’t think it’s true that Americans were always so hostile towards Big City living. It’s not fair to say a group of people have some natural predisposition towards a certain way of life or thinking. The reality of the situation is that Big City means a lot of things to different people, and there’s a lot of cultural (and corporate – hello, General Motors) influences that can be analyzed.
    It may be poetic to say we have some predilection, but it’s also an injustice.

  3. Eric Orozco June 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    @Brendan. I agree of course with your first statement. Lest I be misrepresented, let me clarify that I bat here for the neglected side. In this, indeed, I join a long list of American poets, artists, patriots and busybodies whose paeans of the Big City and their very lives need no defense. The challenge: to join them in the policy arena, where Ecotopian tastes tend to rudely interrupt the paths of ordinary urban lives, if not prevail over them.