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Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future


4.0 average, based on 1 reviews

Manufacturer: AK Press

Product Information

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.

Matt Hern. AK Press, 2010.

Product Code: COMH19

Customer Reviews

Average Rating: 4

Pretty good read

This accessible and exceptionally interesting book analyses a range of contemporary cities urban geography and culture and, in contrast to many preconceptions of anarchist analysis, sees cities as having a central role to play in a sustainable and humane society. The scope of this relatively small book is impressive including essays on Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Montreal, Portland and Diyarbakir and there are certain key themes and arguments running through the text. The main point Hern appears to be making is that for cities to be truly sustainable they need to increase in density and diversity and be based on a direct, participatory democratic structure that encourages active citizens rather than passive consumers. This is particularly refreshing reading given that this reviewer lives near Milton Keynes town centre. If Hern wants to see a great example of a consumption oriented urban layout with private ownership of public space built to encourage car use and passive citizens, he really should come to the town centre here (though weirdly enough it also includes many green public spaces). It really is something special. The only problems with the book are that you might find yourself wanting more detail on the cities he describes, particularly specific areas and the diversity of culture within them. Vancouver, perhaps understandably, gets a significant amount of attention which links to the differences in style between American and European analysts in that he does not have a problem with the occasional use of first person analysis. Whilst many will be fine with this it does appear out of kilter with other aspects of the text and the themes of the book. Having said this it is still a really good read and a great analysis of the subject, highly recommended.

Anonymous :: 16 Aug 2010, 10:37

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