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Join a conversation: How can we build our cities on a foundation of social justice?

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Over on TED Conversations, we’re exploring a question from George McCarthy of the Ford Foundation. He asks: “How can we build cities that are sustainable, inclusive and truly just?”

He writes:

The fact is more than half the world’s people now call cities home. All of the world’s population growth over the next four decades—some 2.3 billion people—will take place in urban areas. And rapid urbanization gives us unique capabilities for spurring social change. As the Ford Foundation partners with TED to explore and advance a socially just city, we want to hear from those of you who champion a more inclusive vision of your cities.

Some answers to inspire you to jump in:

Jorge Andrés Delgado: I think we gotta think first in the very definition of “sustainable” to answer that question. Do you mean a sustained growth of the cities or an intelligent management of the local resources to create a balanced system with a steady-state economy? As you know there is a huge contradiction between how economy works (infinite exponential growth) and how our planet can regrow its finite resources (pretty slow if you compare).

Fritzie Reisner: Are you asking primarily about areas undergoing rapid urbanization? My area has been urban for a very long time, but some of the initiatives that have long been underway here include 1)improving public transportation and bicycle-friendliness to reduce reliance on cars and parking, 2)land-use decisions to provide for a diverse array of housing options (from pod-type units to single family homes), 3)strategies for connecting neighbors and neighborhoods

Jesse Horwitz: I think great cities are somewhat like great research universities – they take centuries to develop and are pretty robust at the end of this long and challenging process of establishment. If you run through the great cities of the world – New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, Beijing, Hong Kong – they have hundreds of years of history. Interestingly, several of them have been physically devastated one or more times, so this doesn’t seem to be about physical infrastructure, etc., but about cultural institutions (both formal and informal).

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