A Good Mayor

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We have myriad emergencies in our city. What would a good mayor do?

What needs to change is how we live. That's the point of change. We are already standing on our movie set. The drama, the make-or-break, is right here. There was once a phrase, "The Revolution of Everyday Life." That's it. The new leadership won't come from policies, laws, or professional decision-making. Or at least that is not where leadership starts.

Am I in the race? In New York, pollsters don't even ask if a new party is possible. Government agencies, political clubs and newspapers observe a strict boycott of 3rd parties. Maybe I am something to fear. As mayor I would give citizens cooking lessons in a kitchen without toxins. I would encourage school-children to shout "Local-lujah!" I would take a walk on a path through an urban forest with criminals and their mothers. There are things to do that you can't photo-op. Like the slowness of certain corny meditations, of the self-hypnosis of not driving, of deflecting the marketing that comes into us through waves and wires and billboards on the sides of the highway. There is the proud city-wide conscientious objection to war.

Turn the city upside down, so that the neighborhoods have the power to start and stop construction, highway design, zoning -- not some phony negotiation with the landlord-developers. The government must receive its power from the governed, and that is not just a policy shift. That is an act of memory. A good mayor would help with the collective memory of the idea of New York City. What did we hope for? What did we demand just a few generations back, when we died for our idea of what freedom would be.

This is such a radically different approach than our current mayor, a top-down memo-writer who buys and controls. Effective leadership now would be a new kind of persona, calling on the past and the future simultaneously, equally history lesson and sci fi exploration. Your average citizen understands this more easily than the currently powerful. When we wake up each morning -- already our day is completely different. We see our change before us -- our radical bicycle between our ass and the ground, our head-fake away from the helpless desperate corporations, our loving look relaxing into the eyes of neighbors, our unhurried working of our hands on our energy, our greenery, our waste ...

Yes! We all become like a neighborhood, with so many languages but one shared gesture and smile. We all become immigrants again, because that is what we are on this earth and in this city. We just got here, we just arrived -- and so we don't have money to grab so much as help to give. Oh, and we do have an emergency. The earth has been asking us with its fires and droughts -- do we want to survive? The mayor who tries to buy us is powerless. He has $16 billion and he says that he is limitless, but we know better. The earth is the government. Nine million of us are the government. We are a good mayor.