Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Cities, Magnets of Hope"

Titled above is World Habitat Day theme for this year. It's clear that the role of cities and of urbanization remains and will probably stay at the center of international concern for human settlement. See the list of WHD themes for the past 20 years. For the last 11 years we've moved on from "shelter" and really focused on "cities".

BTS at the discussion in URDI this morning underscores not just the growth of large cities and the losing out of villages, but also the shrinking of (small) towns. There's no more hierarchy of cities. There's only (big) cities and everything else. SW said villagers nowadays don't move to a small town before they move to a big city; they come straight to Jakarta ("tembak langsung"). DJ said that urbanization is unstoppable. Governments need to prepare for this condition and provide adequate services for the poor coming in to the cities.

I see cities NOT as "magnets", but rather they are the ONLY "hope" left. Cities (or urban interests) have engineered it this way. Lefebvre said the rural is now part of the urban. And this, Storper & Walker said, is the "capitalist imperative".

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