Pope Francis called for an extraordinary global response to climate change this week in his much-anticipated encyclical. But the first pope from the developing world also has a message for urban planners: Build better neighborhoods for the poor. And while you’re at it, find a way to integrate the natural world in city design. “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature,” he writes in Laudato Si. It’s subtitled “Our Care for Our Common Home.”
Cities have become unhealthy places for human beings — not only because of toxic emissions, but also because of poor transportation, visual pollution, congestion, social exclusion, violence, noise and even “the loss of identity.” And inequality looms over it all.
"In some places, rural and urban alike, the privatization of certain spaces has restricted people’s access to places of particular beauty,” Francis writes. “In others, ‘ecological’ neighbourhoods have been created which are closed to outsiders in order to ensure an artificial tranquility. Frequently, we find beautiful and carefully manicured green spaces in so-called ‘safer’ areas of cities, but not in the more hidden areas where the disposable of society live.” . . .The Pope understands the role of quality of life in urban planning, a factor that is especially important in a planned community such as Reston.
Why can't our County leaders, starting with the Board of Supervisors, but including planning, parks, transportation, education, and more, grasp this need and plan and build accordingly?
For the rest of Anna Clark's excellent article, click here.