Creating a city for all: The future of cities in the 21st century
Athens, Rome, Venice. History offers many examples of cities that were their own world, independent mini-states that offered freedom of ideas and a model for social cohesion — alternative societies that have often been in conflict with the larger surrounding state. Cities still drive social progress, but many factors are changing our modern world, and cities are again being forced to retool and rethink how they work. A discussion from the Stratford Festival.
The history of the world has largely been the history of cities — it's in cities that power seems to reside, where concentrations of people and ideas drive social change and innovation.
"When we evaluate any city — ten thousand, a million, ten million — we should evaluate how well we treat the most vulnerable people. Who are the most vulnerable? The children, the older adults and the poor. So I want each one of us to go out thinking that we are guardian angels — guardian angels of the most vulnerable." – Gil Penalosa
Cities in history have been the motors of society — political, as well as industrial and cultural centres. Often, they've been in conflict with the larger surrounding state — what a city needs is not what a rural society needs. Over time and with the strengthening of democratic systems worldwide, nations have changed, and cities too. New technologies and the new knowledge-based economies have forced cities to rethink their own meaning: Infrastructure, yes, but for what kind of future? Young versus old, rich versus poor, cars versus transit, all the questions for cities in the twenty-first century.
- Sevaun Palvezian is Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto non-profit CivicAction.
- Gil Penalosa is founder and chair of 8 80 Cities.
- Lorna Day is Director of Urban Design for the City of Toronto
** This episode was produced by Philip Coulter. It was recorded at the the Stratford Festival, thanks to Melissa Renaud and David Campbell. Special thanks also to Ann Swerdfager and Antoni Cimolino.