One of my secret passions is Apple Computer. I love the elegance and ease of use, and I read Mac news sites on a regular basis. I ran across this article on Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, and it had the following great quote from Walt Disney:
Before his death in 1966, Disney said, “I don’t believe there is a challenge anywhere in the world that is more important to people everywhere than finding the solution to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin? Well, we’re convinced we must start with the public need. And the need is not just for curing the old ills of old cities. We think the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land and building a community that will become a prototype for the future.”
I was amazed when I read this quote. I had no idea Walt Disney was so interested in the development of the urban space. It sounds as though he really was invested in ideas of social justice (I know nothing of his thought, so please correct me if I’m wrong.)
The quote meshes very well, I think, with some of the themes I’ve hit upon before, namely moving beyond our current situation by moving beyond our limits: to think in new and creative ways while recognizing from where we have come. The solution must come from us, as our problems come from us. The great Persian poet, Nasir Khusraw, says it best:
از ماست كه بر ماست
az maast keh bar maast
what is upon us is from us [i.e. you reap what you sow]
If urban decay truly is a problem, what are the root causes? Cities are not living beings that can create their own problems, and one can argue unintended consequences, they are still consequences of human activity. As creators of urban concerns, we must address them head on, and work towards dealing with some of the hallmarks of urban decay, such as a failing educational infrastructure. ArchNet always has some great threads going on about this topic, and it’s always addressed in some very challenging ways.