Saturday, January 28, 2006

More Wisdom from Unlikely Sources
"Research suggests walking or cycling for just half an hour a day can have a significant improvement on our state of health. But why don't we do it more? Often... because our towns and cities make it nearly impossible, and because it might help if the built environment was more attractive and appealing to the pedestrian... We are perhaps not far behind our American cousins in the 'supersizing' epidemic."
And who might this wise man be? None other than the pretender to the throne of Great Britain & Her fair Dominions, Charles Philip Arthur George.

Now, as astute readers may have already guessed, I am a trifle sympathetic to the Jacobite cause. Nonetheless, I am prepared to give credit where due, and Charles has been a strong critic of the beauty-bereft utilitarianism of contemporary architecture and urban planning. His point is strongest when we consider the transportation necessary for suburb dwellers to carry on their day-to-day activities. Virtually everything one must pick up, buy or attend to is likely beyond the comfortable reach of walking- and it is thus no wonder that society is becoming increasingly obese, not only in America, but in lands which have thus far avoided the scourge of republicanism.

A quick word about government's role in all of this- while I am by and large a fan of the Austrian School of Economics, I question whether urban planning is not an exception. The public good of aesthetic worth is so often undervalued by developers that a role for the government would seem to be appropriate.

Among our ancient mountains, And from our lovely vales, Oh! Let the prayer re-echo: God bless the Prince of Wales!

2 Comments:

Blogger blinde said...

it is so lovely to hear about other people who believe this

people in our own neighbourhood, like in ubc's LFS (formerly AGSCI) faculty, are really working for (beautiful and useful) green space in our cities

or at least they were really on fire about it last time i checked

January 28, 2006 10:40 AM  
Blogger Daniel Cowper said...

An excellent post. The Prince has always been a troublesome figure: in his public announcements so obviously a cultural leader, while in his personal example so often... well, you know.

Beauty is, like it or not, a luxury good, and then, prized differently by different cultures. Many Asian cultures have an ideal of luxury defined largely by idleness and staying inside. Subsequently those asians who can afford to build beautiful houses often prefer windowless boxes that maximize utility. This however teaches us a lesson: a culture must prize outdoor life as part of the luxurious ideal if it is to ever produce beauty in design and construction. Surely it is a prominant aspect of modern society that outdoor living is on the decline, and that indoor occupations dominate the cultural scene. Shame! How shall we change this?

February 01, 2006 6:15 PM  

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