Mega-cities are literally building into the clouds raising questions around scale and quality of life. 94th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan.
By ELIZABETH HOWARD
Two weeks ago I was in London and had an opportunity to attend and participate in a program around building homes, actually desperately needed housing, on land designated as green belts. London is an elegant, gracious city with exquisite parks. The English love their gardens and the exhibition, Painting in the Modern Garden – Monet to Matisse, currently on view at The Royal Academy is sold out on most days. The idea of encroaching on nature is highly controversial, so the conversation was fascinating, particularly for an American.
Then I traveled on to Vienna for a Monocle conference on "Quality of Life." If you are interested you can watch it (monocle.com/film/affairs/urban-provocations/) on the Monocle website.
The world is becoming increasingly urban and the mega-cities are being stretched for more housing, modes of transportation, clean water and green space. The Monocle conference was designed to generate conversation and ideas around these issues. Most of the participants at the conference travel from one major city to another across continents, so their insights represented many cultures and perspectives.
When I returned to New York I kept thinking about the phrase, "quality of life." We hear it often. People move to the country for reasons related to quality of life. Or they move from a cold climate to a warm climate to improve their lifestyle.
It seems to me that much of the political rhetoric that is swirling around and keeping us in a thick fog is essentially about quality of life. Where is community? Where is the desire to work together? Where is the desire to sit down and think about what we can do to boost job opportunities? Together. It isn't just about housing and green space.
Shinola (shinola.com) is a company in Detroit that is producing beautiful products that are manufactured in the United States. It is the creation of jobs for Americans in Detroit that the company is most proud of.
What can we do to stop the bullying and disagreement that seems to be pulling at the fabric of who we are as Americans? On Tuesday evening, 10th of May, Abby Disney's film Armor of Light is being broadcast on PBS. The film follows an evangelical minister and the mother of a child who was murdered in Florida and raises questions around those who are pro-life and pro-gun.
It is a film that plays a role in helping Americans understand how we can break down some of the issues that separate us. Abby invited me to one of the first screenings and I had the opportunity to view it for the second time last week in Harlem. As it ended and a discussion followed, the words quality of life came into my mind again.
People live in a community like Laconia for the lifestyle it offers. Summers on the lake, picturesque winters with opportunities for winter sports. Soon, Laconia will have a new theater, and hopefully this will bring more activity downtown. Yet, I sense there is much that could be done to improve the quality of life. It isn't an individual thought. It is only achieved when people embrace one another. When people accept that we are all different, but somewhere there are threads that link us together. It is what connects us, not what differentiates us that is most important.
Armor of Light begins with the often-cited Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote on the screen.
"Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."
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