Cities, families, and “living well”

by Ryan Streeter on December 24, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Joel Kotkin has published a new report on the purpose of cities in which he argues that cities exist not just for living but for living well. But what does it mean to live well?

[It] starts with focusing on those areas where new generations are likely to be raised rather than the current almost exclusive fixation on the individual. We must not forget that without families, children, and the neighbourhoods that sustain them, it would be impossible to imagine how we, as a society, would “live well.” This is the essence of what my colleague, Ali Modarres and I call the ‘Human City’.

In the full report (PDF), he argues that urban leaders should build on this view of the human city and rework their strategies around what sustains families over the long haul. He argues that nothing in this view represents a break from the long tradition of cities serving as havens for restless and creative types, but rather requires the urban planning industry to get over its post-familial prejudices and recover another long tradition – namely cities serving as places where families want to live and use as their centers of productive activity.