Every day is a perfect occasion for World Streets to announce publicly, loudly and yet once again our firm belief that the most important single thing that our society, our nations and our cities could do to increase the fairness and the effectiveness of our transportation arrangements would be to make it a matter of the law that all decisions determining how taxpayer money is invested in the sector should be decided by councils that respect full gender parity. We invite you to join us in this challenge and make it one of the major themes of sustainable transport policy worldwide in the year immediately ahead.
To create a city that works for all, we need to have a vision. Policy without vision is like driving blind-folded. In this short posting we would like to explore the vision of a Soft City. You will have your own ideas on this but here are ours. And of course your comments and suggestions are as always most welcome.
- The Soft City is recognizable. Has a clear sense of identity. When you’re there you know where you are.
- Proximity: In contrast with the reality of sprawl and limited accessibility for the majority, a place where many things you need in your daily life are within a comfortable and safe walk or bike ride.
- The Soft City is quiet and clean.
- And safe – for all but above all for women and children (who are visibly apparent on the street).
- There are people on the streets (eyes on the street, assuring safety and amenity).
- Traffic is light, unobtrusive and moves slowly – in tempo with the others sharing the street.
The Soft City 2020 Collaborative is a joint venture launched in late 2016 by Luud Schimmelpennink (The Netherlands)) and Eric Britton (France/USA) as an open public interest forum building on their extensive international competence, experience and networks in the broad area of ecological, environmental and social innovation to improve quality of life in and around cities — and specifically in support of sustainable and equitable mobility and creative use of public space. The two principals have long collaborated on an ad hoc basis, and decided that the time has come for a forceful joint effort targeting the period 2017-2020.
An important element of our Better Choices sustainability strategy is to achieve our carefully-considered objectives for the city, often very demanding, without avoidable social conflicts and divisions into opposing camps. For that we need to be attentive to soft policy techniques.
Softness is often confused with weakness. But not in the martial arts. The goal of the soft technique is deflecting the attacker’s force to his or her disadvantage, with the defender exerting minimal force. With a soft technique, the defender uses the attacker’s aggressivity, force and momentum against him or her, by leading the attack(er) in a direction to where the defender will be advantageously positioned (tai sabaki) and leaving the attacker off balance; a seamless and to many invisible movement then effects the appropriate soft technique.
And one hundred and one responded:
A recent discussion has come up in the context of our work program concerning your editor’s long-standing unwillingness to hop on a plane, travel great distances to make a “cameo appearance”, and then scurry back to his burrow in Paris. Since 1995 we have tried hard to maintain a consistent policy about this kind of travel, which you can find here at “Our Personal Choices — and Our (un)Sustainable Lives“. However this does not mean that it is impossible to have some form of lively, “hot” presentation and interaction on topics of high mutual interest without that dreaded trip to the airport. With a bit of preparation and at low cost, we can do an excellent job at creating a lively and engaging interactive low-carbon environment. Let’s have look. Continue reading