We are in the midst of the unwinding of a failed experiment: the re-engineering of an entire continent, and its people, around an ingenious device called the automobile. The closest thing we have to an approach that we know works – not just financially but culturally, socially, environmentally and politically – is the traditional development pattern, the way we built places for thousands of years prior to the automobile. It wasn’t perfect – in fact, a certain amount of tension, messiness and failure was a central feature that gave it resilience – but it worked.
For those of you that long for those days, forget it. We aren’t going back. We’re too far down this path to just go back. Our challenge is different. How do we take a debt-laden, consumption-based society that is used to accelerating levels of affluence and help it transition to a financially-viable way of living while sparing its members the pain and agony of that transition? In short, how do we help our cities not go through what Detroit has gone through, which is the current destination for most of our places? How do we take the knowledge our ancestors worldwide intuitively understood about how to build resilient places and apply it to this mess we have created?
Waiting for a solution — Strong Towns: