Monday, December 11, 2006

A shift to urban living

Readers, you've probably seen many recent articles outlining the global shift towards urban development and settlement. Well, here's one more for you that's worth checking out.

Worthwhile because it examines the problems of our modern cities at a time when planners are envisioning the next wave of of mega and "hyper" cities.

Allister Doyle reports for Reuters:

With the world poised to enter an urban age when more people will live in cities than in the countryside, Josiah Tobiko sees no need to move from his cow dung-covered hut in rural Kenya.

"You can choose city life with televisions and mobile phones but I prefer living here," said Tobiko, a Maasai teacher who lives in a settlement of 125 cattle and goat herders with no electricity or piped water at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Tobiko, 35, moved into a new one-storey home this year -- made of tree branches tied with sisal and coated with about six inches (15 cms) of cow dung and mud.

Here in Amboseli, lions and elephants are residents' most pressing concerns, not road accidents or muggers.

"People go and live in the towns but most come back because they feel there's no culture there," Tobiko said.

"No culture" in cities and towns. Talk about turning the conventional wisdom of the developed world on its head. I love it! And as many of the Reuters companion articles will show, city living is not all it's cracked up to be.

Slum living, crime, and rampant development that stamps out the local flavor of city centers and neighborhoods make modern urban areas less liveable and far more culturally sterile. But see for yourself, and have your own say.