Society Needs Liveable Cities #59 #cong20
Covid-19 has forced us to change how we live, work and operate as a society. Now our cities must change with us to become better places to live in and pass on to our children.
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- Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody when they are created by everybody.
- For decades we have allowed the wrong things take priority – retail space, offices blocks and attracting tourists over building communities.
- Now is the time to push for fundamental change in how we design our cities, changes beyond the current ‘temporary’ realignment of our streets.
- Proper engagement and collaboration between business, residents and local authorities is key.
About Barry Mac Devitt:
Barry has spent most of his career in marketing working for a number of multinationals across the food and telco sectors. He has also worked on the agency side too, so he knows the other side of the fence as well.
More recently though he was CEO of DesignTwentyFirst Century a not-for-profit that was one Ireland’s pioneers in promoting design thinking as an approach to advancing solutions, engendering change and unlocking new ways of learning in people. Some of this work was featured by Jeanne Liedtka, one of the worlds leading authorities on design thinking, in her bestselling book ‘Solving Problems with Design Thinking’.
He is now an independent consultant who wants places that we are happy to live in and pass on to our children.
Contacting Barry Mac Devitt:
You can connect with Barry on LinkedIn
By Barry Mac Devitt
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended basic assumptions that have long anchored just about every facet of our lives, from home and family to work and politics to our towns and cities.
It is a crisis that first and foremost has threatened our very being and so for many of us it has made us really reflect on how we live, where we live and what’s important to have around us – community, outdoor space, local shops, access to nature, areas for safe socialising and play…
These are not things that trip off the tongue easily when you think of an Irish city.
For decades we’ve prioritised retail space, offices blocks and the fleeting tourist over well planned mixed-income family-friendly residential neighbourhoods for our cities. Living in the suburbs and commuting to work is the model we have always accepted…until now.
When you look at cities like Amsterdam, Stockholm, Milan, Barcelona who have all had their COVID challenges they are bouncing back because they are busy with locals shopping, dining, moving about, sitting in parks and going about their business. In fact many of these cities are becoming more liveable not less because of COVID. This is in stark contrast to here, especially Dublin city which is on its knees because it has been completely hollowed out.
So now is the time to push for a fundamental change in the way Irish cities are designed beyond the ‘temporary’ realignment of our streets currently being forceded through under COVID by our local authorities. People want properly planned, multifunctional places that provide what they need near where they live.
But key to this success will be through real engagement and collaboration between business, residents and local authorities. As far back as 2012 the governments Putting People First policy recognised that ‘participation of citizens in public life and their right to influence decisions that affect their lives and communities is ‘at the centre of democracy’ (Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG), 2012, p.157). So engaging citizens to bring greater ownership of, and participation in, local decision-making is fundamental to making our cities work for us all.
The recent proposal from Dublin Chamber to have planning decisions based on a ’15 minute City’ model is a positive and creative move. Pilot programmes like this are needed in local authorities, but real transformational change will only come with a whole city and holistic visionary approach that includes greater citizen participation, especially considering our climate and biodiversity crisis.
Covid-19 has forced us to change how we work and operate as a society and economy. Now our cities must change with us to become better places that we are happy to live in and pass on to our children, cities that are liveable, thriving and resilient against future shocks. Cities that are for all of society.