The idea behind rationalurbanism.com is to create a site for people who want to live in an urban environment even in those areas where doing so doesn’t seem like a practical option. The goal will be to understand, analyze, and create solutions for the problems of smaller cities and be a forum for highlighting the positives of city living.
I am a long time resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, a city of 155,000 people located in western part of the Commonwealth. I have lived in the downtown for most of the last 30 years, raising a family in a neighborhood where middle class families with children are not generally found. If I haven’t quite figured out all the answers over the last three decades, I do think I know what the questions are. My hope is that by starting with analysis of my hometown I can begin to touch on issues that people from similar American cities can relate to, and in doing so create a site for people who want to live in cities, where city living isn’t cool (yet!).
This is first and foremost a site for people who love cities.
Rationalism, being honest about reality and striving to be objective, will be at the core of our methodology. Many cities are overburdened with exaggerated claims about danger and problems of livability. Furthermore, the “common sense” solutions to the problems which do exist often have at their core the models and paradigms of suburban development and so tend to exacerbate rather than resolve them. The goal is to take a fresh look in order to separate myth from reality first, and then look for urban solutions for real urban problems. The work of William Whyte, and The Project for Public Spaces will inform much of this analysis, but so will the ideas of James Howard Kunstler, Jane Jacobs, Charles Marohn, and others.
The hope is that the information presented here will help people who live in cities make the most of their circumstances while providing encouragement for those considering city living.