Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 





Vancouver - Liquid City
Sunday, 24 January 2010 09:25
by David Swanson

When they schedule the olympics in a city, the city usually schedules a massive international advertising campaign for its greatness as "the best place on earth," which is actually the brilliant and oh-so-convincing motto selected by Vancouver, Canada, next host of the winter olympics. That we will learn a great deal about Vancouver from watching the olympics is placed in more doubt than usual by the fact that Canada arrested American journalist Amy Goodman at the border based purely on the random and baseless suspicion that she might someday say something critical of the best olympics on earth.

For those interested in learning about the city of Vancouver, and about the conflicts cities around the world are facing these days in trying to compete for international capital while also (on the contrary?) creating healthy, human, and just communities for city residents, I highly recommend Matt Hern's book "Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future." It opens with these lines:

"It's funny how people tend to describe Canada: fish, timber, prairies, empty beaches, crashing waves, lonely farmers, isolated small towns. That picture is a romantically attractive one but distorting. The reality is that Canada is an urban country. More than eighty percent of Canada's population lives in urban centers, half the country lives in Vancouver, Montreal, or Southern Ontario, and virtually all the population is crowded tightly along the border.

"That's a good thing. With a world population closing in on seven billion and not expected to stabilize until nine or ten billion, people are increasingly concentrating in cities all over the world. And thank goodness for that.

"The only chance the world has for an ecological future is for the vast bulk of us to live in cities. If we want to preserve what's still left of the natural world, we need to stop using so much of it. We need to start sharing the resources and land bases we do not have, to stop spreading out so much, and focus our transportation and energy resources carefully. It may sound counter-intuitive, but there can be no doubt that an ecological future has to be organized around cities."

Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.

But what kind of cities? Hern's book explores cities around the world in order to draw out trends and patterns, dangers and opportunities in his own Vancouver, which he loves, admires, and harshly criticizes. He explores his city's relationship with nature, with the native populations that used to live on its land, with its history. He digs into questions of food supply, recreation, regulation, unplannable anarchic beauty, bicycles, automobiles, and every aspect of urban existence . And underlying much of Hern's investigation is his concern that Vancouver and other major cities increasingly consist of two populations existing side-by-side in separate worlds:

"People with little attachment and few civic bonds to the city increasingly populate downtown: global consumers rather than citizens who care about the place as more than an investment or temporary stopping point. Along with that development pattern comes an avalanche of low-paid service economy jobs to service that economy: retail, restaurant, security, and tourism jobs with wages that ensure that workers cannot live near where they work."

So, what choices do we have? Which ones require top-down planning, and which ones can city-residents accomplish themselves through community involvement, lifestyle changes, or a little mixing up of concrete in the middle of the night? The answers are not all clear yet, but Hern opens up a lot of possibilities for exploration. Read the book.

-- David Swanson is the author of the new book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories Press. You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book.
More from this author:
U.S. v. Bush (9241 Hits)
By David Swanson Now, we almost all agree that Bush and Cheney have done bad things. But have they actually committed crimes? If you know...
The Melbourne Minutes: New Downing Street Memos from Down Under (10425 Hits)
By David Swanson Over a year before the United States launched an endless war on Iraq in what President George W. Bush told Congress was...
Be All That You Can Be: Leave the Army (8854 Hits)
By David Swanson As long as there has been a U.S. military, people have been leaving it. That choice has never been more appropriate than...
Closer to Home (8425 Hits)
By David Swanson I did something worse than St. Augustine did when I was a kid. I must confess I broke into a house on the other side of...
Honesty in Iraq (7594 Hits)
By David Swanson The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently published an editorial that said of Bush: "His pronouncements now bear no...
Related Articles:
The Spirit of Resistance in Mexico City (7542 Hits)
by Stephen Lendman   National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderon had center stage at 12:01 AM, December 1 at the presidential...
50 Killed in two Major Sadr City Bombings - US & Iran Speak at Baghdad Meet (4839 Hits)
by Juan Cole Guerrillas detonated two major bombs in Shiite Sadr City (East Baghdad) on Saturday, killing nearly 50 persons and wounding many ...
Experts: limitations on handluggage hardly useful - Fact: liquid bomb plot is nonsense (6744 Hits)
by Daan de Wit Experts: limitations on hand luggage hardly useful headlines the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf today. One of...
The Shining City on a Hill - The BBC's Justin Webb On 'Anti-Americanism - PART II (5681 Hits)
by Medialens The BBC's Justin Webb On 'Anti-Americanism'(Part I is here) The Lexicon Of Totalitarianism It is worth...
Alleged Liquid Bombers Plead Not Guilty; Alleged Mastermind's Extradition Conditionally Stalled (4329 Hits)
by Winter Patriot The alleged plotters who were allegedly plotting to bomb intercontinental airliners headed from Great Britain to the USA ...

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments (0)add comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger



Top 123