How Planning is Like Growing Tomatoes

An organic system is rarely the sum of its parts. Nothing demonstrates this as clearly as sinking your teeth into a store-bought tomato, writes Ben Brown.

Brown's essay on tomato growing has lessons for effective city planning:

"By redesigning tomatoes to optimize a particular shape and hue, then contorting the growing process for the convenience of transport and just-in-time delivery, the South Florida tomato industry engineered the value out of the product, drained humanity out of the process and wed themselves to an unsustainable business model."

"Sound familiar? Compared to human settlement patterns, shelter needs and the architecture of community, tomato production is a piece of cake. Yet we've allowed similar approaches to dominate the 'industries' of designing and building the places where we live, work and play."

"What's missing is an appreciation of the way tomatoes - and other real world entities - work. Ours is a universe of constantly emerging interactions. Push on one thing, lots of other stuff starts moving around. For decision-making convenience, we yearn for simple. We are genetically programmed for simple. But we are embedded in complexity."

Thanks to Hazel Borys

Full Story: Ta-may-toe, Ta-mah-toe: Lessons in complexity from a fruit

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