Op-Ed Archives: Danijel Rebolj on The Cultures of Mobility

FB Slovenia Maribor cyclists

The Cultures of Mobility

What message could a private citizen, an engineer no less, from a small city of a country with barely two million inhabitants send to the Secretary of Transportation of the United States of America? Happily, there is more to transport and social policy than mere size. So if you decide to continue reading, I may have a modest message for you after all.

This evening, 6 February 2009, an interesting event will take place in my city. A thematic event has been organized, dedicated to the “Culture of Mobility”. In this we want to show (again) at the culture of mobility and the culture of the city are one and the same.

Maribor, my beautiful city, the second-largest in Slovenia, is to become the cultural capital of Europe in 2012. Today’s event will start with a documentary film to open up the perspectives of transportation decision-makers in the city of New York, “Contested Streets: a Mobility Tour of Four Great World Cities”. “Contested” takes its point of departure the old habit of automatically building new infrastructure for cars every time a traffic problem arose. The world-famous and world-practiced “forecast and build” culture

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PROVOKING THOUGHT WHEN WE NEED IT MOST.

bookstore with bicycle

To understand how we get the future that our children need, want and deserve, we are obliged to challenge our usual ways of thinking, seeing, reacting, deciding, and doing. Here are some wise reminders worth pondering as we look to a different future. (Get yourself a comfortable chair; to be read slowly and pensively ; – )

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THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (A TALE FOR OUR TIME)

(Relax. It’s the weekend. And nothing to do with climate change of course. Of course)

–  Edgar Allan Poe (Boston, 1842)

THE “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal –the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys.

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INVISIBILITIES: Just because you can’t see them (or prefer not to) doesn’t mean they are not there.

In a city, as in life, we normally register only what we set out to look for. The anomalies, the absences, the troubling, somehow escape our attention. But when it comes to transport, everywhere the eye might wander there are valuable clues, both visible and invisible, for planners and policy makers. However, if we fail to use our eyes we miss out on valuable information. And as a result our cities do just that much less well.

man sleeping under sidewalk - top half only

 

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A Walk along the Street of Harmony in Penang

Penang Street of Harmony Project celebrates mutual tolerance illustrated by this amazingly cosmopolitan microcosm.

– Anwar Fazal takes us for a walk down the Street of Harmony in Penang.

The island of Penang, Malaysia, has long been a magnet for a multitude of people from all over the world and has over the last two centuries succeeded in integrating countless cultures and religions into its very fabric.

Penang  is very special.  It was a place that opened up for all the communities of the world. That particular special flavor, sometimes in many places in the world, is all too often lost over history. But in Penang, uniquely, it continued.

There is much Penang can teach the world today about acceptance and harmony in diversity.

* * * Walk down the streets of Penang with Anwar Fazal. |  View: https://vimeo.com/219493364

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INVISIBILITIES: Just because you can’t see them (or prefer not to) doesn’t mean they are not there.

In a city, as in life, we normally register only what we set out to look for. The anomalies, the absences, the troubling, somehow escape our attention. But when it comes to transport, everywhere the eye might wander there are valuable clues, both visible and invisible, for planners and policy makers. However, if we fail to use our eyes we miss out on valuable information. And as a result our cities do just that much less well.

man sleeping under sidewalk - top half only

 

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Invitation to the New Mobility Fine Arts Collection: Summer 2017 SLOW CITY PENANG: TIME TO TAKE A GOOD HARD LOOK


SLOW CITY PENANG – AN INVITATION

From the New Mobility Fine Arts Collection, Summer 2017. From 1 July – 1 September

An online exhibit of shared photos, drawings, renderings, street art, child scribblings, videos, poems, proposed projects events . . . .illustrating these two very different sides of life in Penang: fast and slow. the good, the bad and the at times very ugly.

– See https://www.facebook.com/NewMobilityArts/ for details

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Slow City: In the beginning were the Provos (and the White Plans)

luud-provo-cop-white-bike

To understand Luud Schimmelpennink’s White Bicycle Plan, it helps to have a look at the broader context of values, philosophy and politics that were prevailing in Amsterdam at that time –  the Provos, a Dutch counterculture youth movement in the mid-1960s.

And if one concludes that this was more or less what was going on in other parts of Europe and North America, you would be right.  And a bit wrong. The Dutch were digging deeper. At least this part of Dutch society was.

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In the beginning were the Provos (and the White Plans)

luud-provo-cop-white-bike

To understand Luud Schimmelpennink’s White Bicycle Plan, it helps to have a look at the broader context of values, philosophy and politics that were prevailing in Amsterdam at that time –  the Provos, a Dutch counterculture youth movement in the mid-1960s.

Continue reading