Jonathan Hiskes at Grist describes The Future We Want, a multimedia exhibition, website and IMAX movie that projects a positive, uplifting view of a "clean energy economy that creates jobs, protects the environment and provides a secure and prosperous world for our children." Hiskes focuses on a short video showing the impact of a light rail system being installed in Kansas City, shown above.
To be fair to the Future We Want project, the video is not part of the project, although it was prepared by one of the partners in it, Jonathan Arnold of Arnold Imaging. And one has to agree that a positive vision of the future would be a nice change from the usual dystopian stuff. But Arnold's view of Kansas City has lovely new buildings and light rail, and no cars and few people. The present doesn't and the future won't look like that.
In fact, I'm not certain that we need to do computer imaging of a future we want; it already exists.
There are many good examples of light rail, but to be realistic, they also have to show lots of cars, because the rail actually displaces them when it is a dedicated right of way, or slows them down in a shared street. That's why the new Mayor of Toronto wants to rip them out and replace them with buses. People take transit when roads are full and driving is less comfortable; Empty streets means empty streetcars. A future we want will have crowded streets.
Image Credit Lloyd Alter
We have a future we want in cities like Paris where streets are walkable,
Image credit Mikael at Copenhagen Cycle Chic
Or in wind-powered, dense, cycle crazy Copenhagen;
Or in car-free, solar powered Freiburg.
As William Gibson said, The future is already here, It's just unevenly distributed.
More in The Future We Want
More Visions of the future:
From the Past: Cities of the Future
A Vision of a Green Future From Arup
Syd Mead Still Cranking Out Visions of the Future
Visions of the Future: Stacked Suburbia and Underwater Cities
Norman Bel Geddes Predicts the Future