Sunday, September 20, 2015

Can a bridge save the rhinos?

This photo shows kids walking home from school across the
viaduct.  It needs repairs, but is threatened with demolition.
Photo by Christopher Miller/Erie Times News
During my visit to Erie, PA, back in August, I had the opportunity to meet Abdullah Washington, aka Bigg Wash, a poet and commentator on the local scene.  He wrote a wonderful article on the need for the viaduct on the city's East Side. I advocated for that during my visit.  I was particularly grateful that he mentioned my plea for "urbanism-informed" decision-making.  Our nation has not had a particularly happy attitude toward its cities.  As a consequence, we have carried out a long series of policies that have taken quite decent cities and messed them up.  If we all had some understanding of urbanism, we would do a lot better at managing the critical resource of having people live in close quarters.  Aside from being more sustainable and fun, cities are sites of invention and there is nothing we need more at this moment than invention.  We need to invent jobs, peace, and protection for all the species with whom we share the planet.  The new UN report on the massive rise in population makes me fear that the rhinos and the elephants aren't going to make it.  But who knows what we might invent if we make great, inclusive cities as sites of co-existence?  What is a bridge? asks Washington.  "A bridge is connection. A bridge is hope. Save the viaduct."  I would add, "Learn the lessons from saving the viaduct, and save the rhinos."

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