If we want to preserve what's still left of the natural world, we need to stop using so much of it. And cities are the best chance we have left for a sustainable future ... but only if they remain vibrant, dynamic spaces that are unfolded by millions of people working together—and not by master plans and planners. What will it take to make our cities truly sustainable?
In a world where the flow of money and jobs and people is largely determined by the whims of global capital, Matt Hern's Common Ground in a Liquid City is a refreshingly down-to-earth look at the importance of place in the urban future. Using his own hometown of Vancouver—the poster city for "sustainable" urban development—as a foil, Matt travels around the globe in search of the elements that make our cities livable. Along the way, he pieces together a very different picture of urban renewal, one in which place regains its flavor and its funk, and cities become much more than bland investment opportunities.
Each of Hern's ten chapters focuses on a central theme of city life: diversity, street life, crime, population density, water and natural life, gentrification, and globalism. What emerges in the end is an appealing portrait of what the urban future might look like—environmentally friendly, locally focused, and governed from below.
Engaging, accessible, and relentlessly original, Common Ground in a Liquid City is an appealing portrait of what the urban future might look like—if we can get our act together.
"The best way to learn about your own city is to leave it. The second best way is to read Common Ground in a Liquid City."—David Tracey
"If you want to be a dweller, an inhabitant, a real citizen—not just a resident, a consumer of residence—if you want to begin to pay your ecological debts without leaving the city, this is the book you need to read. It is controversial. It will challenge you in a thousand ways ... for good."—Gustavo Esteva, co-author of Grassroots Postmodernism and Escaping Education
"One of the best ways to experience your own city is through the travels that you take to other parts of the globe. Matt Hern's Common Ground in a Liquid City takes this idea to heart. It reads as a set of dispatches from abroad—a series of artfully engaging postcards in which he explores the nature (and foibles) of urban planning, public space, and civic process in Vancouver—all while wandering the highways and byways of some of the world?s most vibrant urban centres."—Andrew Pask, Director, Vancouver Public Space Network
Matt Hern lives and works in East Vancouver, where he is the director of the Purple Thistle Center. He holds a PhD in urban studies, lectures globally and teaches at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. His books include Field Day, Watch Yourself, and Everywhere All the Time.
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