The City I Need To Be In

I’m in the process of having a meltdown, I have no sense of belonging or place. I know what I need to feel at home, just have never found it. I know it is all my fault I don’t connect to people, I’m shy, introverted, socially anxious and paranoid. Throw in my ADD with all its impulses, inability to understand social cues and appearances of being rude to reach maximum alienation. This isn’t an exercise in self pity but self understanding, I need to organize and focus the ideas to see what big picture they make.

To start the city should not have a city hall, the city services and staff would be dispersed in a series of forums/agora type centres throughout the city. A central forum would be the largest with the bulk of the services and support mechanisms. Each area’s forum would also have a council chamber to hold meetings, occasionally full city council sessions, the offices of the local councillors and public spaces including the local library branch. The forums would also provide affordable space to small business start ups. Farmers’ Markets could be hosted at the forums as well.

There is no need to have police stations, fire stations and ambulance bays in separate buildings. Combining them, their support elements and their administration will free up resources for more emergency service personnel, higher wages, and help each service understand the rôle of the others. The same could be achieved by merging the library into the education system along with recreational facilities and daycares. As demographics reduced the need for class space the rooms could be retasked as craft rooms for seniors, thus avoiding fights over who’s school gets bulldozed.

Zoning would be three dimensional, seemingly blurred and human scale. The dominate structure type would be four stories high with commercial on the main floor, cottage industry in the basements and a mix of affordable and luxury residences. Enclaves of cottages or other small single family housing would be mixed in along with office buildings, hotels, bed & breakfasts, and entertainments. The city would be instantly recognizable on the horizon because of the architecture and monuments. There would be no line between green space and other space, every address would only be meters away from parks, nature trails, conservation areas or the rural hinterland. Heavy industry would be concentrated along the rail lines, sea port and airport to be close to their products’ shipping means.

The entire city would be centrally heated and cooled. The sewer system, the garbage incineration and many industries produce surplus heat that could be used to lower heating costs for the entire city. Electricity production would be the incinerator that also burns off the sewer gases, wind generators, solar panels and all other forms of non-fossil fuel energy readily available. Compost, recycling and waste would be sold as a commodity and not treated as an expense. Good distribution of containers for people to put their garbage et cetera would keep the city clean. For security reasons the refuse would drop below ground level into bomb resistant containers to minimize terrorist attacks.

The car would be banned from almost all of the city (must.resist.rant.). The outer areas would have parking facilities for people to store their car until needed and have a few neighbourhoods for people who want their car. Roads would be for emergency vehicles, bicycles, delivery vehicles and road hockey and be logically and efficiently laid out to minimize costs. A web of walking paths and plazas would connect throughout the city without being interrupted by roads or rail. The mass transit system would be light rail and connect out to regional communities.

So yes, I want a city where everything is at my fingertips, where bare concrete and asphalt is banned along with cars, and where nothing is ghettoized. The ‘Mr Peas can’t touch Mr Potato’ approach to cities is part of why so many cities are failing. The city I need to be in doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean it is fantasy. Each element I’ve added into the city is already existing somewhere and is successful. Now some city needs to put them all together and let me know so I can move there.

Well, meltdown is over. Send in the hazmat teams.

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