20 March 2010

Can we design cities for happiness?

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Happiness itself is a commons to which everyone should have equal access. Jay Walljasper, co-editor of OnTheCommons.org, reflects on this statement by Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, in Shareables. A worthwile read whenever you need some arguments against those opposing pedestrianising city centres (and also a mind turner on one’s view on Colombia).

“Happiness itself is a commons to which everyone should have equal access.

That’s the view of Enrique Peñalosa, who is not a starry-eyed idealist given to abstract theorizing. He’s actually a politician, who served as mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, for three years, and now travels the world spreading a message about how to improve quality-of-life for everyone living in today’s cities.

Peñalosa’s ideas stand as a beacon of hope for cities of the developing world, which even with their poverty and immense problems will absorb much of the world’s population growth over the next half-century. Based on his experiences in Bogotá, Peñalosa believes it’s a mistake to give up on these cities as good places to live. […]

Peñalosa uses phrases like “quality of life” or “social justice” rather than “commons-based society” to describe his agenda of offering poor people first-rate government services and pleasant public places, yet it is hard to think of anyone who has done more to reinvigorate the commons in his or her own community.”

Read article (make sure to see the video at the end!)

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