Struggling in the Urban Grid
80.7% of people live in cities as of 2010, says the recent US Census. Just 100 years ago, most people, instead, lived in the “country”. Within a very short amount of time, our entire United States population has gone from country living to urban living. Terms like “urban growth” have been added to our language to describe the spreading out of cities and the tentacles of roads that reach out connecting commerce to places.
We must understand that this transition does not come without cost. There is of course great cost to our now, very dense ways of living. In fact, we could outline many examples of these costs in this essay. Example cities, such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas are great case studies of how urban growth has affected water, the alteration of native rivers and lakes, and how issues such as pollution, traffic, and erosion, all become of concern.
For many, living in the urban world is difficult. There is a great deal of culture and advancement of ideas that take place in cities, but the costs of living can be higher, and thus we encounter more stresses. I really believe that many people experience some level of anxiety from this great deal of vibration and noise around them. Those who have quiet apartments find solace, in those spaces. But the mechanical noise, the concrete, the constant advertising–all of these things certainly have effects upon our physical and mental health.
The urban growth rates continue to rise, some day may be in the 90th percentile. We have to ask ourselves this: if we cannot agree to live within the countryside, how then, can we bring the countryside to the cities? How can we minimize and decrease the stressors? How can we create habitat spaces, green spaces, interwoven living and working places, where commuting becomes less? How can we hybridize and take the best of both worlds? Certainly, some will choose to never leave the countryside, and some truly love their humming busy cities. But for most, whom lie in between, or whom are merely trying to be in the place where they can “survive”, we have to think more deeply about our development of these places.
If we incorporate nature into our designs, into our urban structures, there is no doubt that our cities can become more and more beautiful, and that we can inspire tranquility by being in them, not stress.