The last chapters: ‘Save Your City, Save Yourself’ and ‘Epilogue’
Who has the right to shape the city? The French philosopher Henri Lefebvre once offered a straightforward answer. This right is not something that can be bequeathed by the state. It is not an accident of ethnicity or nationality or birthplace. It is earned through the act of habitation.
… that great irony of the American city: a nation that celebrates freedom and weaves liberty into its national myth rarely gives regular people the chance to shape their own communities. … Scant few neighbourhoods in North America feature places that draw people together regularly for anything other than buying stuff.
We have been seduced by the wrong technologies. We gave up true freedom for the illusory promise of speed. We valued status over relationships. We tried to stamp out complexity instead of harnessing it. We let powerful people organize buildings, work, home, and transportation systems around too simplistic a view of geography and of life itself.
This is the truth that shines over the journey toward the happy city. We do not need to wait for someone else to make it. We build it when we move a little bit closer. We build it when we choose to move a little slower. We build it by choosing to put aside our fear of the city and other people. We build the happy city by pursuing it in our own lives and, in so doing, pushing the city to change with us. We build it by living it.