We noticed that we lost many followers yesterday, just after posting Jim Hightower’s article on parks and politicians. We had briefly debated whether or not to post it, and considered changing the quote to something less incendiary, that didn’t specifically call out “right-wing” politicians for stealing parks from the public. Ultimately we left it just as it was in the original post.
It isn’t our intent to make this a political blog, but it is impossible to ignore politics when discussing public space. The use, the funding, even the access to public space are all political issues, and can be highly charged ones at that. As a site that is focused on scale—the scale of architecture, urbanism and human activities—we don’t see how to avoid it. Our views here on climate change are quite clear to longtime followers, as well as our views regarding the devastation of the natural environment in general.
The political beliefs of elected officials are extremely important to our built world, not only to the world beyond. Any architect who has simply looked at zoning at the start of a job is intimately aware of this. To avoid talking about political views is to ignore most of the debate on the shape of our important places; those that care about urbanism, environmentalism, architecture and design must lobby those in power on issues relating to our expertise and experience.
This lobbying must not be restricted to one political party, or to right or left, as all sorts of leaders need input. It is clear to us, however, that notions of communal ownership of public space are most definitely less supported by those on the right and more lobbying may be in order in that direction. That is not to suggest that the left has more solutions, but that successful urbanism is simply in most cases more relevant to their concerns. Centralized planning and organic growth both have their advocates on right and left for different reasons, and both require us all to pay careful attention to their proposals and especially to their policies.
We will continue to post what we think is relevant to public space, to urbanism, and to scale, but would like your input as well. What do you all think?