Following the 2016 American Presidential election, I turned to the writing of Jane Jacobs. I went straight for “Dark Days Ahead” on my library shelf and immediately came across this helpful passage in the first chapter:
“…the death or the stagnated moribundity of formerly unassailable and vigorous cultures is caused not by an assault from outside but by an assault from within, that is, by internal rot in the form of fatal cultural turnings not recognized as wrong turnings when they occur or soon enough afterward to be correctable. Time during which corrections can be made runs out because of cultural forgetfulness.”
In this election, will we forget the assault on the dignity of women carried out by a candidate for the Presidency of the United States? As a candidate, he is a part of that unrecognized “rot” fully validated by the cultural turning of a national election. Nevertheless, we must take some hope in the idea that he is not a “fatal turning” as the terms of office in the U.S. Constitution assure the observance of character sufficient to support renewal or to deny it. Terms are kernels of political time, and like seeds, they carry the subtle stories of leadership. Some terms will champion the highest of human ideals and guide us with the opportunity for growth; others do not for the lack of crucial nutrients. The message of the seed is not to grieve, but to find the nutrients to be free to grow. I cannot think of a better time in history to build a broader foundation for the vote than the 100th year of the 19th Amendment. Now is the time and 2020 is the deadline.
The cities (for hundreds of reasons) are skeptical, but unafraid of change because they are highly skilled with it. There is a lot to learn from the day-to-day reality of our city. Today, it may seem very difficult to get to the truth and I can tell you exactly where you will find it. Walk to your street outside of your home, that is where you will find the truth. It is right at your feet, look up and you will be eye-to-eye with the truth. I can walk for miles from my home, and that is how I know what is true and what is not. How far does your street reach?
Those willing to accept this idea should do so knowing we are in a period where the worried search for nutrients and fear of change is strong. History says we are tempted to choose the warrior’s promise that he will take what we want at no cost. Turning away from this path by the 100th year of the 19th Amendment will move us toward more diligent and intelligent work of amassing social and material resources. To succeed in this task, one dark force in the world requires exposure.
This idea may have nothing, or everything to do with design in the dense urban setting. I think it is the latter and the “vote” in the city is an urban design and community development problem that has been ignored.