Theory and Criticism
Shrinkage: a manifesto for prosperity

We like it or not, we have crafted a culture bubble, and built an environ bubble, where mindsets are the extra-, the mega-, the over-cultures. The challenge today is to deflate the bubble before it bursts. The most vulnerable sector may be the environ in the extended sense of the word. For example, the land-use and free-space are where the bubble is most obvious.

If we continue to follow (as we do) the old traditional ideas of architecture and planning, it is so easy to witness the worsening of the current conditions and declare it as a crisis. Those who are concerned about land-use often cite alarming figures. In a recently published article "How Much Land Is Left?" Oliver Gillham says, for example, that the USA is losing nearly 400 acres of open space to new development each hour, and that new England alone is losing farmland and forest at the rate of 1,200 acres per week. In Switzerland, we can observe in a very recent statistical and explanatory document that the Swiss forests are also shrinking rapidly, the loss of a football stadium-size forest per week.

The basic point of shrinkage is that sooner or later our principle premises concerning growth and expansion must be urgently revised and reassessed. We are experiencing shrinkage in cities such as in Silicon Valley, in Grisons Alps, etc., and yet shrinkage is still in its embryonic stage. needless to say, time is running out. We need to act at wartime speed.

Let's talk, and tell our points to help to build a sustainable future.
Siamak G. Shahneshin

In a way I am glad that in the US, we are paying close to $3.00 a gallon for gasoline. I wish we would be paying like in Europe, a lot more for it. This will help in the long run find a better solution to urban sprawl.

US cities need to be denser, and with better public transportation options. Our bubble here is that the "American dream" is owning your own little detached house with a yard. There is nothing wrong with that as long as we can plan transportation and businesses that provide goods and services around it, but how long can that dream last without running out of the prime resource, land? That is the bubble that is going to burst.

I am tired of having to drive everywhere. I find it so dysfunctional for cities not to have a number of transportation options that are economical and serve the public. As Jacques Leenhardt once told me, "Americans left the horse for the car" and it is so true. We have not evolved in this country.
Maria Ayub


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