Monday, August 04, 2008

In praise of slums

While the rest of The Globe and Mail's Saturday columnists were being painfully inane, Doug Sanders captured the complexities of modern China in less than 1200 words.

One idea that Saunder doesn't unpack in this column is the notion that slums might be preferable to work-sponsored housing because it gives people a sense of ownership and it could keep families together.

I've seen this concept floated before. Stewart Brand tries to make the case for squatter cities in his short TED Talk which, unfortunately for him, appears to be one of the less-well received talks at TED. Brand also recommended Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World in the most recent (last?) Global Business Network Book Club.

The notion that being unemployed in a shantytown may be a good thing is a difficult idea for me to embrace. I had a hard time with the concept when I tried to read Ivan Illich a long time ago. Perhaps I need to take another attempt at Illich while I wait for Doug Saunders' book about "the role of rural-to-urban migration and the rise of urban migrant enclaves as a source of political change and conflict in the world" which is due in 2010 and to be called Arrival City.

1 comment:

sonia said...

I enjoyed Leah McLaren's column from the Globe and Mail. I found it rather amusing that even her housekeeper thinks she is a loser!