New Urbanism Evolves; The Future Is "Agrarian Urbanism"

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Greg Lindsay of Fast Company attends the 18th annual conference on New Urbanism, the architectural movement founded by Andrés Duany that tries to imbibe new communities with lessons from the old. But he finds that Duany has moved on. Lindsay writes:

"Duany believes the metaphorical asteroid -- call it peak oil, climate change, the collapse of complex structures -- is on its way. He's trying to push the body of planners and architects toward a small-town America that more closely resembles pre-1850 America than pre-1950."

Duany is now talking about the next big thing: agrarian urbanism.Lindsay continues:

Agrarian urbanism, he explained, is different from both "urban agriculture" ("cities that are retrofitted to grow food") and "agricultural urbanism" ("when an intentional community is built that is associated with a farm)." He was thinking bigger: "Agrarian urbanism is a society involved with the growing of food."

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James Howard Kunstler was there as well, and gives his overview in Clusterf**k Nation, including a bit of history of the New Urbanist revolution:

The basic idea behind the New Urbanism was that the quality and character of the places where we spend our lives matters, and that the surrender of the entire American landscape to Happy Motoring was an historic aberration that had to be corrected if the USA was going to continue as a viable project. Among other things, they noticed that if people live in places that aren't worth caring about, sooner or later they end up being a nation not worth defending -- and this is on top of the daily personal punishments suffered by hundreds of millions of people dwelling in a geography of nowhere.

He points out that the New Urbanists were fiercely opposed and often mocked as "being slaves to worn-out traditions -- like walking from home to work."

Now that people are finally catching up to these basics, the movement is evolving again. Kunstler writes:

The most forward-looking leaders in the New Urbanist movement now recognize that we have to reorganize the landscape for local food production, because industrial agriculture will be one of the prime victims of our oil predicament. The successful places in the future will be places that have a meaningful relationship with growing food close to home.

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