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The Value Of The City–People

Monday’s Quote

What attracts people most, it would appear, is other people.”

~ William H. Whyte, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

This is the value of the city: the people.

We come for the daily opportunity for social interaction. The Chinese have a fantastic term for this: 看熱鬧 (kān rènao: Seek+hot+noise).

The term is a positive note to depict somewhere that is worth “being there“.  If you go out with friends to a place that has a buzz, you might turn to one another and simultaneously comment, “wow, this place is very rènao.”

Traverse City has become more rènao over the last few years with more events, good restaurants and people living an active lifestyle. The more we are out-and-about, the more vibrant the city will seem.

The design of the city may help this vibrancy or it may hinder it. Is the city designed with ample, comfortable, convenient public spaces designed to bring people together? Or, is it a city designed to move people from point A to C, with point B being a parking lot?

In the past, we have confused designing for how people get to a place, and where they store their toys, instead of designing places for people to be somewhere. We need to move beyond that. If it’s a place full of vibrancy and rènao, we will find a way to get there; we humans are compelled to do so.

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