It is not just Geddes’ historical importance but the relevance of his
vision for us here and now.
"How many people think twice about a leaf? Yet the leaf is the chief product
and phenomenon of Life: this is a green world, with animals comparatively
few and small, and all dependent upon the leaves. By leaves we live. Some
people have strange ideas that they live by money. They think energy is
generated by the circulation of coins. But the world is mainly a vast leafcolony,
growing on and forming a leafy soil, not a mere mineral mass: and we
live not by the jingling of our coins, but by the fullness of our harvests."
Geddes final lecture to Dundee students, 1918
Geddes explains the current state of the global economy is a reminder that it is not wise
to define the needs of the planet as though money were more important than the realities of the lives to which that money is meant to relate.
Geddes final lecture comments on both global finance and a profound understanding of planetary ecology.
In the end it is vegetation and other resources, not money, which is the issue. In that same lecture Geddes reflects on the
interdependence of arts and sciences and how each should inform the other
and it is this interdisciplinary approach to thinking relating to town planning.
This generalist view gives insight into his approach to planning. For Geddes,
city planning risks losing touch with the communities, cities and regions that it
sets out to serve, if it does not take a multiplicity of approaches into account.
this summary of his philosophy of planning is represented in these words of his:
‘Town-planning is not mere place-planning, nor even work-planning. If it is
to be successful it must be folk-planning.’ Patrick Geddes
What Geddes meant by this was that what was needed was a full
appreciation of the cultural, historical and geographical antecedents of a
community, and furthermore the capacity to enable that community to be
fully aware of those antecedents. That’s why his cultural revival was at the
heart of his Edinburgh planning effort. It wasn’t an add-on extra, it was a
condition of successful development.
It is all about understanding how the world works and the relationship to how everything is connected and effect each other which my device could enable people to do.
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