Transcript for An Urban Future


Jim Fleming: From Wisconsin Public Radio and PRI, Public Radio International, it's To The Best of Our Knowledge with Jim Fleming.  Chris Anderson says the future can be terrifying. 
Chris Anderson: A lot of people feel it.  We look at a future with ten billion people teaming across the planet.  A lot of people in the environmental movement have spent a lot of the last 30 years terrified of cities and really hating the process of urbanization.  What's I think remarkable about what's happened in the last 10 years say, is there's been a groundswell change of opinion here from cities being this great evil to being the thing that may save humanity, that maybe humanity's best hope. 
Fleming: Chris Anderson is the curator of the TED Conference.  This year it awarded the annual TED prize to a concept, not a person.  The idea?  The city 2.0. 
Anderson: I guess my lens on a lot of this has been being at TED and seeing some people talk.  Robert Neuwirth is one of the speakers who came.  He's written a book called Maximum City and he was talking about slums.  I've always thought of slums as these sort of hell holes, as awfulness.  He had actually to talked to lots of people in slums and heard their stories of in many cases, excitement and hope in the fact that they saw city living (and being in the slums to them was city living) as their opportunity to escape from poverty.  There are hives of innovation.  You know, when you put the camera right back and look at what's happening in the next 50-70 years, humanity will have to build as much urban living space as it has in all of history so far.  It's astonishing.  The numbers are approximately a million people a week, every week for the next 70 years will move into cities.  What that means is that humanity has a chance to reorganize itself and so there's absolutely everything to play for here.  This is not just a topic about “oh, let's make urban life a little bit more attractive.”  This is about trying to use the very best of human imagination, inventiveness to get to a future that our planet can support.

Comments for this interview

Thank you- very helpful (Catherine Shrady, 10/24/2012 - 12:51pm)

As a faculty member and the director of St. Lawrence University's new off-campus program on Sustainability, designing the urban component of that off-campus experience, I found this program very useful- we'll be using it in the curriculum to spark discussion and help prepare for our urban component!
Thank goodness for programs like To The Best of Our Knowledge and Public Radio- terrific sources for educators!