arch-peace news and articles

28.4.05

Melbourne, one of the world's most livable cities?

"Melbourne, one of the world's most livable cities"
I have heard this for years, most times the source of this information is not quoted.
But who says it? I just found out that it is the "Economist Intelligence Unit" who concluded this - if there is another source, please let us know.
I am not sure as to the parameters used to measure livability - however, they mustn't have looked at our public transport!
Beatriz

3 comments:

Su said...

Livability must be nothing less than an indicator of sustainability.
As I was walking out of the library the other day I picked up a book sitting on the Latest Purchases shelf entitled ‘Vortex Cities to Sustainable Cities: Australia’s Urban Challenge’ by Phil McManus published 2005 UNSW Press, Sydney. Phil McManus is an academic at the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney and is also a National Councillor of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
This very latest overview of Australian cities is damning in its conclusion that ‘contemporary governance and planning structures for Australia’s largest cities are not geared towards sustainability…’ (McManus 2005:68) Within this qualification he notes that ‘…some of the inner local government areas in Melbourne are beginning to take sustainability more seriously than they have in the past, and more seriously than most other local governments around Australia.’ (McManus, 2005:58).
So all we are doing with headlines such as "Melbourne, one of the world's most livable cities" is congratulating ourselves for being the best of a bad lot and ignoring the real impact of our so called ‘livability’ standards!!
McManus cautions that ‘…sustainable cities must contribute to sustainability (globally). We cannot have islands of sustainability if they are exporting unsustainable practices beyond their borders.’ (McManus, 2005:5). I contend that the notion of a ‘livable’ city must be understood according to this principle, for such chest-beating not to encourage complacency on the one hand and ridicule on the other. ‘Livability’, to be a truly valuable measure, must be nothing less than living sustainably. (While ‘sustainability’ is a hotly contested descriptor nobody disagrees that it must be considered in the light of communities other than our own and into the future.)
To apply this principle to ourselves and our own lifestyles we must first confront our own complicity in perpetuating the lie of ‘livability’. It is important to temper and re-value our good fortune as Melbournians from the point of view of others (both human and non-human) who are paying the real price of our good fortune. The harder we look at ourselves the more we see that we are trapped in a web of unsustainability. The best way out of this trap is to reconfigure it by becoming actively engaged in perpetuating more than our own good fortune. In other words, we must widen our focus away from self-gratification and beyond the limits of anthropomorphic thinking to engage wholeheartedly in a wider sense of Self that sustains good fortune and livability through ‘just’ ecological processes as well as ‘just’ economic and social processes. For many of us brought up as Westerners (with its implications of living based on the cult of the individual) this requires a profound re-thinking of ourselves and our value systems. However, one of the real strengths of Modernist Western thinking is that we as individuals can make a difference and it’s this belief that provides the bedrock for our participation in society. We must harness this belief in ourselves for the benefit of more than ourselves. This requires a certain type of knowing and being in the world that firstly needs to be acknowledged, then purposely pursued in order to be learned and finally and most importantly to become embodied within our everyday activity. We cannot afford to segment our efforts in this regard into our efforts as professionals versus our efforts as private citizens. For me personally, as a designer I am pursuing and promoting ecologically sustainable design. But in order to do this successfully I must also pursue ecologically sustainable living which is based on ecologically sustainable thinking.
Whatever ecologically sustainable thinking is, it must be predicated on more than current thinking models because it is these very models which have given rise to our ecological crisis. I concur with McManus when he suggests that ‘At the risk of sounding na├»ve to some …who have been trained in technical and scientific logic and methods, it must be acknowledged that their way is only part of the answer. Despite our fantastic technological developments and incredible increase in particular forms of knowledge relative to previous generations, it appears that hope, humility, love, ethics, wisdom and courage will be our greatest assets in creating a more sustainable future. (McManus, 2005:8). It is these qualities of participation which underscore a certain type of knowing and being in the world and which can transform us and help us to reconfigure our lifestyles away from unsustainability and towards true ‘livability’.
Su

Anonymous said...

Great work Su, the liveable tag always made me uncomfortable, especilally the smug tone with which it is usually issued. Melbourne's brief status several years ago as world's most liveable city (first equal with Vienna and Montreal I think) was awarded by a business magazine I think, Forbes perhaps.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a purple patch at the library! I've just picked up another book 'The Greencity: Sustainable Homes Sustainable Suburbs' written by a quartet of authors largely from Melbourne University (N. Low, B. Gleeson, R. Green and D. Radovic)and this time the message is positive and practical. The backpage review is 'that the sustainable city can be built by a thousand well-directed small changes.' While I haven't read the book yet I presume this means that it is well within each and everybody's grasp. Wouldn't it be wonderful to get everyone in Melbourne whose proud of this wonderful town yet not so smug as to ignore its unsustainability to become involved in a project to bring about some of those well-directed small changes.
Su

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