Creating Democratic Cities

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New Urbanists believe in the power of physical design (of cities and neighborhoods) in influencing user behavior. John Thackara and Sunil Abraham talk to Cluster Magazine about the dynamism of cities in fostering democratic perceptions and influencing user behavior [hat tip: Jinal Shah]:

Tolerance of everything and openness to everybody are not universally accepted principles. This is one reason why globalization and migration have introduced new complications. Most religions advocate tolerance in theory, but organised religion can be oppressive in practice.

I’m glad they recognize the limitations imposed by differentiation of cultural and religious norms within civilizations in creating democratic cities and unless users themselves demand certain freedoms, it will be hard to impose such on them. But at the same time, unless you expose them to certain freedoms that we take for granted they’ll not know what they are missing out on. Considering the current conflict in Iraq which also faces similar dilemmas, can the nature of rebuilding their cities help any?

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