Cities are artificial habitats; environments shaped and transformed overtime to meet the needs and desires of our species. They are also the defining ecological phenomenon of the 21st century. In 2008, the world reached a momentous milestone. For the first time in history, more than half the population resided in urbanized environments. Global urbanization will continue to produce dramatic cultural shifts as populaces homogenize, abandon traditions, and assimilate into mainstream societies. There will also be a dramatic shift in how people access resources, sustenance, and space. How we access our food, water, shelter, and how we interact with each other, will not only impact the course of human civilization, but the very future of the planet. The growing impact of cities on our global ecosystem, calls for a deeper understanding of the complex relationships between people and space; between urban and ecological systems.
In the majority of cities, land is a finite commodity with high exchange-value. This scarcity has produced continued struggles over ownership, access, and appropriation of land. Throughout the last few hundred years of human history a large portion of land has shifted from common to private use, which is owned, controlled, and used by a few rather than the collective. Cities have typically been shaped and directed by dominate classes, and not all of society as a collective whole.
The future of humanity greatly depends on the decisions we make about how to structure our built environment and systems and how we interact with each other and our surroundings. The main obstacle is that there is no clear path for us to follow. The road towards a more sustainable world is untraveled. I believe the first step in this process is to creatively reinvigorate a deep connection to the spaces and people around us. Our ability to actively shape these local spaces, not only reduces our reliance on distant bureaucratic bodies, but also produces connections between people and places, infuses us with a sense of purpose and power, and fosters within us a unique sense of place, one of our own making.