centered around “ warrior vs guardian ,” H u m a n i t i e s

centered around “ warrior vs guardian ,” H u m a n i t i e s

My Ideal City

This exercise is designed to get you thinking about what a perfect city would look like and how you could design it as a place you would want to live.. Please look at all the categories outlined below and figure out what would suit you best and why. For instance, do you like a very large city like New York City or a tiny, town like Wappingers Falls. Why does one appeal to you more than the other?

When thinking about the services your city will offer, be sure they are in proportion to the size of your city in square miles and number of people who live there. One library or one hospital for a city of 200,000 people is probably inadequate. Reflect on accessibility of hours and means of staffing. Consider the costs in line with the revenue sources your city will have. Think in terms of providing decentralized services in neighborhoods, that is providing satellites of recreational facilities, schools, medical clinics. Please think about the overall quality of life you want for yourself, your family and all people in the community.

This exercise is an evolving part of this class and starting this session I have added “policing” as a category in light of the renewed discussion of what an urban police force should look like. Above all, I am interested in your ideas of policy in regard to public vs private schools, individual vs apartment housing, big box vs small, family-run businesses, personal cars vs public transportation.

Please take time to plan your ideal city carefully. Do a little research if necessary to see what cities the size of yours include in terms of services. Try to build a community where the people will work together productively. Do not neglect the pitfalls of wide differences in income, education and privilege. Be mindful of areas of potential conflict and work to minimize problems in creative and meaningful ways.

Statement of Vision: Please put the design of your city into a statement of your overall vision. By that I mean a few words about why you have made the following decisions about the details of your plan. Why do you want a certain number of people and a particular kind of housing, schools, libraries? What sort of life do you want for the population? Has the recent pandemic and lockdown of cities changed any of your views on who has access to what goods, services and leisure activities in a city? And if so, how does your design solve the problem of some people having greater access than others? Or is this not a problem in your view? Once you make a plan for the city, are there ways of dealing with sudden crises that make it necessary to shut down parts of the social and economic life of your city? In what ways will your city, or town or village have to relate to surrounding communities, to the state and to the federal government in Washington, D.C.? These may be important if you are a suburb of a major city serving as a bedroom community with lots of local revenue to tap or a distant tiny farm town struggling for consistent revenue streams.

Population: Please give a total number of inhabitants, ethnic and racial makeup, age and be sure to take population into consideration in all other planning such as schools, parks, housing. Be sure the number of people are consistent with services and necessities. Does your population live there all year around? Is there an influx of tourists at the height of the popular season? Do your streets, highways and transportation facilities accommodate the numbers of people moving around the city?

Housing: Think in terms of individual or multiple dwellings, apartments or houses, row houses or stand alone. What about affordable housing? Also connect housing to shopping, schools, parks, transportation, religious institutions. health care, entertainment. Who determines where housing is located and who gets the so-called prime real estate? Will there be any restrictions on housing?

Schools: Where are they in relationship to commercial sections of the city or town? Are there enough to meet the needs of the population? How are they divided by grade (K-6, 6-9, 10-12 or K-8, 9-12)? Are they public or private or both? Religious or non-religious? What about teacher-student ratio? Is there a mix of race, gender, religions, income? Will they be funded by taxes, state-wide formula, local budgets, private donations? Will the teachers have the option of belonging to a union?

Libraries: How many? What about hours they are open? Digital or paper books? Special areas for special interests? How will they be funded? Who can use them? Will the librarians have a union? Where they be located?

Businesses: What kind of business (small, industrial, locally owned, large box stores, franchises) do you want to attract to your city or town? Where will they be placed in relations to schools, housing. Will they get tax breaks as incentives to move there? Will local enterprises and crafts be subsidized? Will the workforce be allowed to form a union and bargain a contract? What will be the minimum wage by law? What variety of businesses will there be? Are food and clothes stores taking the place of bookstores and community activities?

Medical Services: Is there a local hospital in distance of the city’s population? Does it service all the population regardless of medical insurance? Is the equipment up-to-date? What is the ratio between the number of hospital beds to the population of the town? Are there enough doctors? Nurses? Technicians? Is the Emergency Room well-staffed? Are there Urgent Care facilities in local neighborhoods?

Cultural Activities: Art museums, symphonies, music venues, music lessons, art exhibits, arts and craft shows, historic tours. Please be very specific here. Who will have access to the activities? Are there entrance fees or additional costs? What kinds of state and local underwriting of expenses can be count on? How is information about these cultural activities communicated to the public?

Parks: What do parks do for a community? How many will there be? What will be in them? Will there be snack shacks, restaurants, vendors? Will smoking be allowed in them? What facilities are there for children? How will safety and maintenance be assured? Who will have access to the parks? What hours will they be open? Will they have games like chess and bacci ball? Will there be benches to sit on? Tables to eat on? Trash receptacles? How will you structure a local oversight board that will meet and monitor the park? Will the park come under a public department such as Parks and Recreations? Will that department provide a paid Parks employee to maintain the park?

Recreational Activities: In addition to parks, what formal areas will there be for sports, boys and girls’ clubs, events and assistance for seniors? How much will the activities cost? Are there add-ons for euse of equipment? Who will be able to use the recreation facilities? How will they be staffed and supervised? Who will fund them? Swimming pools? Picnic areas? Tennis courts? Indoor sports like hockey?Is there public transportation at a reasonable cost or free to get to these places?

Restaurants: Where will they be located? What kinds of food at what kinds of prices? Local establishments or chain stores? Who will be responsible for inspection? Will the wait staff have the possibility to join a union? Are there options for restaurants that are farm to table and organic as well as reasonably priced?

Transit: Please put particular emphasis on this section given the amount of time we are spending with transit this semester. What kind of transportation–public or private? What form of transportation–bus, subway, taxi, private car, mass transit? Where will it be located and how will it wind through the town? How much will it cost? When will it run? How will people access the schedules? How will safety be ensured? Think of the issues Kafui Attoh raises in his book about the needs of the transport workers and access for all people in the city?Think of climate change and the need to cut emissions of private vehicles? Is mass transit a way to improve the air as well as serve a wide public?

Policing: City police forces are relatively new to urban planning. Historically in the United States, public police were not introduced until the mid-Nineteenth Century. In the North, a publicly funded police force was created to protect shipping interests of local merchants. In the South, the primary purpose of the police was to preserve slavery and were, in fact, formed as slave patrols with the job of capturing and returning runaway slaves and preventing slave revolts. The issue for you to wrestle with today as you plan your city, is what kind of policing is the most appropriate for communities of the Twenty-first Century? In recent times, the debate has centered around “warrior vs guardian,” that is, a force trained with weapons of war as opposed to one trained in conflict resolution and community policing. Prior to the outbreak of protests over the killing of unarmed Black men, two cities restructured their police forces opting for the guardian approach: Camden, New Jersey and Eugene, Oregon. There are more experiments in alternative policing methods and some very good arguments for rethinking what police should do and what other service take over some of the traditional police activities.

Additional Questions for Ideal City Exercise

When you are writing about the transportation aspect of your city, you may comment on the following questions as background for the type of transportation system you would like to see in an ideal city. I am always interested in your own experiences with elements of local government.

1. Do you ride any form of public (city or state owned) or private (Uber-type) transit? You can use past experience here as well.

2. If so, what kind and how efficient and pleasant a ride was it? Please be specific and give details.

3. If not, what would you do if you didn’t have a car to use to get to school, work, a friends, a hospital, an athletic event, a party, a religious service? Please address all of these and any others you can think are important. Each might need a different response. You might be able to walk to some, call a friend for others, organize a charter bus for some, pool with other members for the religious service or call an emergency vehicle.

Good work = good $ tips ☺️

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