Top Down or Bottom Up?

The European Union was a grand idea. It still is, even after Brexit. That idea is to prevent further disastrous wars by reorganizing Europe from the top down.  That reorganization is meant to make it impossible to think of intra-European conflict. And it has worked. The old national rivalries that used to explode into conflict seem like bad dreams now.

Brexit doesn’t change that. In fact, you see the same top-down orientation in the structuring of the Brexit negotiations. Can, for example, Britain reorganize itself to better manage disruption?

At the same time, one wonders whether this top-down way of thinking is the best hope for our future. Top-down governmental structures have rarely pulled people from the bottom up. Will, therefore, bottom.up thinking evolve in ways to accomplish this much-needed task?

If so, the focus will be how to empower community. One way is to better use communal spaces. This brings us to the Kounkuey Design Initiative. These idealistic folks are trying to find ways to better use public spaces for the benefit of the people around them. To move from “the tragedy of the commons” to the opportunity of having a commons.  But …

The late urbanist William H. Whyte famously observed the designs that ruin public spaces, from excluding places to sit and gather to creating dead zones. But even the best-designed public spaces can be a waste if no one uses them. This is especially true in low-income communities.

The trick is to understand the need and then meet that need with programming that incorporates design. Not just design and leave.

Bravo! Let’s see if they can learn more as they go!

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