Cities Don’t Need More Good Designs

Good Design is Nothing with out Good Actions

Patrick M. Lydon
Feb 14, 2014 · 2 min read

Until last week
my last surviving grandparent
lived in a piece of crap mobile home park for old people

It is in the center of a bustling city
a city which is un-walkable by people her age
too dangerous
made explicitly for cars

Made explicitly for cars

Made explicitly for cars
by the very people
who are now growing too old to drive

The city is an island of prisons for old people
built by their very own generation

A dark comedy

Who of them ever thought
they would be too old to drive
some day

Who of them ever thought
a city where we need to drive
to the park
the store
the coffee shop

would stop them from being able to do those things forever

She moved last week
my Grandmother

Into a hospital bed

And I can’t help but wonder
what if this damned city were built
for the good of the people who inhabit it?

Why are we so ignorant?
that we can give up quality of life
in order to make cheap
profit-driven city infrastructure?

A livable, walkable city
is an investment
in something other
than financial ROI

Our cities were built to make money
they’re still built to make money

And we still smile as we drive along the boulevard
in our shiny new cars
because we haven’t yet figured out
that a society based on accumulation of wealth
no matter how philanthropic
is the antitheses of community
the antitheses of a broad-reaching quality of life

There is plenty of good design
there are plenty of good ideas

They’re all eternally on paper

Nice idea, say the developers
say the cities
say the investors
say the economists
with a smirk
nice idea, they say
but it’s kind of ‘uneconomic’
don’t you think?

‘Anything that is found to be an impediment to economic growth
is a shameful thing’ once lamented economist E.F. Schumacher

And so good design and good ideas won’t save our cities
nor the people in them

Good actions are our only salvation
honorable actions
just actions

By politicians
by developers
by contractors
by investors
be economists

Good design and good ideas
won’t build cities for the people
until the people decide
that they need to start working for each other
instead of for fame, fortune, profit
and a nice flat in a trendy neighborhood

Just ask San Francisco and Google
or even my Grandmother

Good design is a start

Now we need good actions.

P.M. Lydon is an artist, writer, and Editor at

He is currently co-directing the Final Straw, a documentary and active community dialogue about food, earth, and happiness.

    Patrick M. Lydon

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    artist & author, re-connecting people and the places they live with the rest of nature // &

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