Before we get started today, Blogger would like to say a few words about the heinous bombing of the Manchester Arena, yesterday evening, at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. There are no words that can adequately describe the shock and horror of it. The concert should have been a celebration of the music that Ms. Grande's fans made the soundtrack of their lives, instead will always be remembered as a tragedy. It is not lost on Blogger that the majority of the audience were pre-teen and teenage girls. Whether the barbarian knew this or it was mere happenstance, we may never know. What we do know is that he subscribed to an ideology that advocated violent hatred toward women regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and ability. This kind of ideology has no place in contemporary society. This is an ideology of darkness, fed by fear. The parents of girls and young women lost will now see their nightmare come true: they will have to bury their children. No parent should ever have to do that, never ever. We cannot give in to our fears, cower behind closed doors, suspicious of our neighbors. We must expose this darkness to the light of human love and kindness where it cannot survive. We must guard against those who wish to committed acts of terror, tempering with compassion. Blogger sends love and good thoughts to the people of Manchester, the families of the dead and injured.
|Protestors at the G20 conference in Germany|
Photograph by Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Photograph by Blogger
Mr. Florida asks, "How will cities navigate this geopolitical tumult?" Excellent question. Of course cities are growing-"nearly 70 per cent of the world will urban by 2050." The do have impact-"the 600 largest urban economies in the world will produce 65 per cent of the global economic growth by 2025." However, the aggregate numbers do not give the complete picture of how cities will handle their interests in this period of tumult. Mr. Florida suggests three paths for cities to take, abbreviated: reform, oppose, hedge.
As we speak, there is a massive gap between the collective economies, populations and reputations of cities and their genuine global influence. Mr. Florida describes them, "The reformers are trying to carve out a voice for local actors in the key international institutions of the post-World War II order"
The Habitat 3 Conference, held in October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, drew mayors and civic leaders from over 500 cities. The conference was organized by United Cities and local governments, "collectively call for a seat at the 'Global Table.'" For those wanting reform, the lack of local voiced in global institutions undercuts the legitimacy of the current order and limits the efficacy of global accords like Agenda 2030 and the the New Urban Agenda.
This is another approach that looks for more fundamental change. The resisters make arguments that range from tried-but-true to insightful. Some go as far as to make the anti-Americanism argument and repeat the usual attacks on "neoliberalism." Others, like the People's Social Resistance Forum to Habitat 3, have posited that "the United Nations has veered too far from a focus on human rights and that the global system of international exchange proceeds undemocratically above the influence of local and national politics." Regardless, there is a common thread: "They herald new forms and practice of politics that stretch well beyond traditional political sites."
|New Delhi, India|
While American cities are still figuring out whether to resist or adapt to developments in Washington D.C., the pragmatic approach for resisting the aging world order has been developing for some time. The 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests, the 2003 global protests to the Iraq War, and the Occupy movement are examples of what resistance can look like. Mr. Florida writes, "Leading academics with interdisciplinary approaches are helping outline these opposition tactics." For example, New Castle University scholar Stephan Graham's book Vertical, is a how-to manual for "vertical appropriation" techniques-"such as occurred in the Torre de David in Caracas, an unfinished bank tower that now houses more than 300 low-income families-that can be used to resist or reimagine the geographies of power that stretch from the GPS satellites of space to the water wells and subway lines beneath city streets." Keller Easterling's Extrastatecraft is a compendium of approaches to language, rumor, innuendo, hoax, and protest that can be co-opted as forms of politics.
These are beyond the diplomatic norms of the hallowed UN chambers tailored to new voices, instead streets, buildings, and humor turned into places of political engagement.
Although the current world order is in flux, one simple lesson from 20th century American diplomacy still holds: "Reliables partners and platforms for collective action can help amplify influences." Richard Florida asks, "But how to organize such collective action in the 21st century without a preponderance of power?" The answer proffered by those who remain independent of the world order: "Build your own networks."
Existing institutions can be challenging, thus important philanthropes and lead leaders have built new platforms-The Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities, the C40 Cities, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, and bilateral relationships between cities such as Chicago and Mexico City. The new networks are not opposed to established multilateral institutions, to the contrary, the seek to support them. That aside, they are aware that they cannot just depend on global and national governance to remedy the challenges that directly affect individual cities. They have to take matters into their own hands.
Which of the three strategies will ultimately prove the most effective? We live in an era of upheaval and extreme, new organizational methods and new ideas of identities that give priority to networks over hierarchies. Approaches that once worked may not be a sure thing anymore. What is very apparent is that the global order that is emerging from this state of flux, will, as before, have much influence over the nature of cities. Just how much of a voice the urban dweller will have in what emerges from the flux will be determined by the legitimacy and effectiveness that all three strategies have to offer