The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “cities

When Cities Define Us

Posted on May 10, 2016

“EVERY PERSON IS DEFINED BY THE COMMUNITIES she belongs to,” says author Orson Card. Depending on where you live, that could be encouraging or disillusioning. In the realm of city building, many don’t wish to be defined by municipalities that seem to be falling behind, but would rather be seen as part and parcel of smart cities doing intelligent things as they move into the future. London, Ontario, is living through such a moment, and some see it as a crucible. The current subject under debate is Light Rail Transit (LRT) versus Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Some view LRT as a sign that we are committed to the future, whereas others prefer BRT as a more affordable decision to manage the present. In unexpected…

Keeping a Community’s Soul Intact

Posted on March 18, 2016

FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, LIBRARIES WERE LIKE CASTLES of private knowledge. Even then they contained thoughts and ideas that could be dangerous, forming part of the justification for invading armies to ransack and burn them to the ground. The reasoning was simple: destroy a culture’s collected memory and you can wipe out the culture itself. Except it didn’t work that way. Memories and acquired wisdom are dynamic things that, when called upon, still empower a citizenry even when their books are taken away. And almost immediately they begin building places of knowledge again. For that very reason libraries have to be permeable, fluid things. Civilizations ebb and flow, and as long as enlightenment and knowledge are essential to progress libraries will be found at the…

It All Comes Down to Cities

Posted on December 15, 2015

FOLLOWING EXTENSIVE NEGOTIATIONS a deal emerged among 190 countries regarding climate change and the very future of the planet. Almost immediately opinions pro and con erupted in every venue imaginable. The average citizen can be forgiven for experiencing difficulty as to the truth of the summit’s success in Paris this past week. Nevertheless, there are some aspects of the climate change response that have been clearly successful, with progressive track records that still spell hope on the file. I speak especially of cities. While the accomplishments on carbon emissions of a number of nations have been mixed, cities around the world opted to act long before the Paris summit. Following the dismal failure of the 2009 Copenhagen summit, municipal leaders took the initiative when others…

Poverty’s Great Unknown (2) – Hiding in Plain Sight

Posted on February 20, 2015

IN HER BOOK ALPHABET OF THORN, author Patricia McKillip has one of her chief characters ask another: “Do you become invisible?” In reply, the other character says, “No. I’m there, if you know how to look. I stand between the place you look at and the place you see – behind what you expect to see. If you expect to see me, you do.” This is the way it is with modern poverty; people suffer their deprivations in private, yet they are seen everywhere in every community. They are us, but we don’t really see them. In Canada, we most often can’t be bothered to look for poverty in our midst, but if we truly wanted to, we could spot it – everywhere. In yesterday’s…

A Tale of Three Rivers

Posted on February 10, 2015

IT WAS ONLY THREE DECADES AGO that Pittsburgh was deemed to be dying – an urban nightmare with polluted rivers, crumbling inner core, steadily declining employment, and a population fleeing for greener pastures. Yet the city my wife and I visited this past weekend showed rare traces of such a blighted past. Instead, we were caught up in a city life teeming with creativity, investment, and a keen new belief in itself. In just few years it has transformed from a warning to a model. We had first been invited down by officials this past summer for the 15th anniversary of their RiverLife project. Rarely had we witnessed a waterfront so teeming with possibilities. Even though this past weekend’s visit was in the midst of…

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