How Squatters Will Help Shape the Future

In this piece, Stewart Brand argues that squatter cities will grow greatly over the next few decades, and the world will be better because of it.
January 11, 2011, 10am PST | Nate Berg
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"New shanty-towns lack sanitation, water, electricity, and organization. In the early years, the place stinks, water and power are stolen and irregular, organization is improvised and sometimes criminal, and the homes are hovels. The whole community is always under threat of being bulldozed out of existence. But the outlaw citizens find themselves in a cash economy at last, and it is vibrant. Every lane among the shacks teems with food stalls, cafés, hair salons, clothing racks, temples, health clubs, and mini-shops selling everything. Cell phones abound. Most of the economy is "informal"-no deeds, no licenses, no taxes. Everyone works, including the children, many of whom are also getting some education, often from private informal schools. Rupee by rupee, shilling by shilling, peso by peso, real by real, squatter families are working their way up in the world.

As they do so, they lift the world with them."

Brand calls squatters the dominant city builders in the world.

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Published on Friday, January 7, 2011 in What Matters
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