Pocket paradises

posted by Frank van Steenbergen
April 01, 2013

Cities grow and there is nothing stopping them. In 2050 not half but 65% of global citizens may be urbanites.

As our life becomes more urban, it becomes faster, richer, more diverse but also impersonal (how many neighbours do know us?), grim, impersonal, dangerous, insecure.

There is much to learn from the oldest megacities: how to avoid grime and what to do to keep them ‘liveable’. Yet here is a good example of where we hopefully may be heading for, coming from an unlikely place: Harlem in New York, for long a byword for crime and urban decay, but now transformed into a lively multicultural place.

Here is a small community garden tucked away between the houses and backyard alleys. It used to be a dirty sinister corner, storing undefined junk, waste no one bothered to remove, making everyone uncomfortable passing by. Now this dark and unsafe place has turned into a pocket paradise. A small shared garden was created –managed by neighbours, serving as a place for kids’ parties and community barbecues.

One of the old ladies in the neighbourhood takes care of it, keeps the place clean and organized, and tends to the vegetable plots that are part of the community garden.

It is hoped that for urban life this is the shape of things to come. Not just cities that are growing fast and keeping pace with demand for infrastructure and services but also cities full of human faces and small places for people to meet in the comfort of others. 

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April 1, 2013  
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