Leading the way: Visionaries, scientists, heroes and poets

Late night thoughts on some of the creative thinkers who over the last five decades have, each in their own highly individual ways,  entirely reshaped  our views of  a just, efficient and sustainable city.

Not to be too aggressive here, but if you, as a planner, decision-maker, activist or student, are not familiar with the thinking and accomplishments of  a fair number  of these champions of sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives, then you have some important homework to do before you can really dig in, understand and make a contribution. And in each case the Wikipedia profiles provide only a preliminary introduction to get you started, along with a first round of  references to their work and contributions sufficient for you to start to understand their genius and contributions.

Let’s have a look at my personal shortlist of sustainability heroes, based entirel on A sample of people whom i have had the honor to know and work with. (You will no doubt have your on list, so please make it known and share them with slowcity@ecoplan.org.).

Additional details and references to follow in due course. For this first phase and to get the ball rolling,  initial  references mainly from WP.

Rob Adams (Australia) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Adams_(architect)

Donald Appleyard (USA) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Appleyard

S.K. Jason Chang (Taiwan/China) – http://www.tw-ita.org/about/academic/696

Bertrand Delanoë -(France) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Delano%C3%AB

Jan Gehl (Denmark) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Gehl

Ivan Illich ( Croatian/Austria/Mexico) htps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Illich

Jane Jacobs (USA/Canada) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Jacobs

Jaime Lerner (Brazil) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaime_Lerner

Ken Livingstone (UK) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Livingstone

Clover Moore (Australia) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clover_Moore

Carlos Felipe Pardo -(Colombia) – http://www.urbanet.info/interview-carlos-pardo/

Enrique Peñalosa (Colombia) –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrique_Pe%C3%B1alosa

Lee Myung-bak (South Korea) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Myung-bak

Hans Monderman  (The Netherlands)-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Monderman

Peter  Newman (Australia) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Newman_(environmental_scientist)

Michael Replogle (USA) – @MichaelReplogle

Jens Roerbeck (Denmark) – https://goo.gl/xytPJg

Janette Sadik-Kahn (USA)- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janette_Sadik-Khan

Lee Schipper  (USA) –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Schipper

Luud Schimmelpennink (The Netherlands) – – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luud_Schimmelpennink

Susan Shaheen (USA) – http://tsrc.berkeley.edu/SusanShaheen

Donald Shoup (USA) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Shoup

John Whitelegg (UK) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Whitelegg

William Hollingsworth “HollyWhyte (USA) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._Whyte

William Vickrey (Canada/USA) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Vickrey 

Hans-Jochen Vogel (Germany) –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans-Jochen_Vogel

# # #

And what if anything do they have in common that a young person aspiring for a better world, perhaps like you, may wish to know more about.  Since I have had the huge honor to know personally,  work with and learn from most of them over the last decades, let me share some of my thoughts with you.

Each person on this short list  is an open, independent thinker, technically solid, tenacious, always ready to learn, modest, ready to deal with the democratic process, and, let me say this, a genius (which of course helps). In all cases they have run against the wind of all thinking and resistance to new ideas, and never complained.

William Vickrey, to chose but one example,  always despaired  that his seminal work on road pricing and more generally the pricing of  scarce resources, had not make a dent in public policy.  He was wrong. Professor William Vickrey of the Graduate Faculties of Economics of Columbia University was awarded the 1996 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences  with James Mirrlees for their research into the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information,  And his contribution to expand our thinking about the power of economics got right in a just an efficient society has now entered into our culture to the extent that we almost always  forget why we think in that way. Such being the nature of culture.

Let me leave you with four words that come to my mind as I consider them and their society-transforming contributions. They are, each of them, visionaries, scientists, heroes and poets.

PS. In due course the author would hope to provide brief profiles introducing each of these extraordinary people and their contributions, along with an additional carefully chosen reference or two to round out the introduction.)

# # #

About the author:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Francis Eric Knight Britton is an American political scientist and sustainability activist who has lived and worked in Paris since 1969. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest book, "Better choices" focuses on the subject of environment, equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions . * Current information: @ericbritton * More at: http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7

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