Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The End of Utopia

I participated in the public workshop for the potential reworking of the Franklin Arterial in Portland last month along with other architects, planners and community members. The city did a wonderful job of organizing a slide show depicting the way the street was before being ripped apart and destroyed to get a mini highway installed. The general consensus among all was to knit the streets that once flowed across Franklin back together and to bring back the wonderful city fabric that once existed whilst allowing smooth high volume traffic to get from 295 to Congress.

As we and others across the country stitch up the wounds caused by 60's urban renewal we must act not with nostalgia after a time that was rough and not ideal. Nor, must we hasten toward a new utopia which will never arrive. It is the molding of idealism in each of our minds in the form of projected wish fulfillment which must be addressed as mature citizens. Utopia is a violent concept which skips reality for a neoplatonic construct- always denigrating us all. We must let go of the urge for grand gestures. 

Each of us is a small animal moving through space gathering food, protecting our families, and seeking shelter. From this beginning, sustainable questions can be dealt with while creating space and light.

The end of utopia is the beginning of infinity

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