Back-To-Nature Plans Stall Innovation

According to this op-ed, allowing cities to de-densify undermines the importance of the city's role in society at large--namely, as a breeding ground for technological and cultural innovation.
June 23, 2009, 6am PDT | Judy Chang
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"The Obama administration is reportedly considering backing a radical plan to shrink deteriorating American cities by bulldozing entire neighborhoods and returning the land to nature. The idea, which originated in Flint, Mich. -- cratered by the auto industry implosion -- is to persuade disintegrating and depopulated cities to embrace their shrinkage, destroy abandoned infrastructure, save money and thereby stave off fiscal ruin.

The plan makes sense on some level, but it's disturbing on another. Anyone who's driven by miles of empty lots in Detroit knows that urban demolition does more than destroy blight. It also erases history and what a city was. Traces of the past have always been jumping-off places for the next chapter (think rehabbed Victorians or sleek post-industrial lofts). And, of course, the back-to-nature plan -- which could be used in cities such as Memphis, Baltimore, Philadelphia and others -- is fundamentally an admission and may be an assurance that these cities will never rise again."

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Published on Monday, June 22, 2009 in Los Angeles Times
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