The direct financial costs of the Iraq war were estimated to be about $800 billion, with a 'B.' That struck me as a lot of money. I started thinking: "What else could we have done with $800 billion over eight years?"
The renewal of urban schools and communities are linked, as it is difficult for communities to improve without a decent education system, but it is also difficult for schools to improve without support from an energized, active community.
For more than three centuries, city planning, landscape architecture and a unique civic ambition that emphasizes horticulture as much as the pedestrian experience in its public spaces and streetscapes, have made Philadelphia a fascinating city.
Will the prime square footage occupied by Borders have similar 'third place' potential once reclaimed? Will replacement uses provide the equivalent fusion business purposes of books, coffee, lecture and song?
If our cities must be dense to be competitive and sustainable, we must also look with care to the potential displacement of uses, institutions or traditions -- not to mention the artifacts we will leave behind.
Can Detroit be saved? What are the myths of green energy? What can we learn from the boggled reconstruction of Iraq? Are we going to share a future of biometric surveillance? Just how did white middle-class Americans start identifying themselves as outsiders?
What if American cities legislated brighter color amid windows, balconies planted green and encouraged flags and hanging laundry? What if homeowner associations and rental contracts required vegetation and decoration?
Once a big idea is vetted -- whether in an authoritarian or democratic way -- what assures its success? Most particularly, what if, from Day One, the vision pushes comfort zones of the achievable; politically, legally or monetarily?