A TALE OF TWO CITIES

As it now stands, Sustainable Development Goal # 11 reads: “Build inclusive, safe and sustainable cities and human settlements.” 

Already in 2008, more than half of the world’s population was recorded to be living in cities and towns. In order to explore the possibilities of people centered urbanization, the Permanent Missions of Italy and the People’s Republic of China hosted a half day workshop entitled “Leading Urban Transformation”. High on the agenda of this concept are balance between economic growth and social progress and harmony within all of nature.  Attention to education and decent employment along with public health need to be maintained and supported.

Mayors and academics, social entrepreneurs and journalists spoke about ways in which they are promoting integration of members of communities by social inclusion. For example, fifty years ago Detroit was booming with two million hard-working people living the American Dream. Then the auto industry crashed and so did the Motor City. Many moved away; whole neighborhoods turned into wastelands. The film WE ARE NOT GHOSTS www.bullfrogfilms.com/email/wang_online.html chronicles the stories of the people who determined to make their vision of hope and sustainability a reality –  from community businesses, to place-based schools, to thriving urban gardens and spoken word artists. The film has important lessons for academics, for policy makers and for practitioners who are interested in rebuilding distressed urban landscape.

Immigration and NYCNearly 40% of the population of New York City is foreign-born and the city credits immigrants with saving neighborhoods from degeneration during economic downturns by boosting housing values, preserving jobs, starting businesses, and volunteering at local civic and religious organizations. Foreign-born residents contribute greatly to the success and vitality of their neighborhoods. Immigrants make up 72 percent of the city’s nursing, psychiatric and home health aides as well as almost half of the city’s physicians and surgeons, and more than one in five elementary and middle school teachers. The future of New York City and the future of many other cities in the world depend on the way in which newcomers are welcomed along with the gifts that they bring to their adopted countries and communities.

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