「English Essay」カテゴリーアーカイブ

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

submitted as the Email Journal assignment for USP480 class at PSU

Bowling Alone

Bowling Alone: Chapter 1: Thinking about Social Change in America

To the United States, rebuilding social capital is an urgent task. Social capital is a community’s valuable asset that is generated by connecting people in the community. Today, many more people in America disconnect with one another. They tend to prioritize an individual over a community. Many of them don’t involve in both social and political activities with certain degree of commitment to their communities. On the other hand, Americans who were in active during or just after the World War II were well-connected with their friends and neighbors and engaged various civic activities with a sense of obligation or responsibility. That is, in the last several decades of the twentieth century, considerable changes in their society happened. This means that social capital has been considerably eroded during the decades.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 2: Political Participation

Over the past three decades, political participation among American citizens has been changed drastically. For example, over the last thirty-six years, participation in presidential elections has declined by about a quarter. These trends can be found in decline of citizen participation in campaign activities, civic engagement in partisan activities and so on. More youth don’t care of these political activities now. They tend to be a passive stance against politics even though it can be a critical element by which they are greatly influenced.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 3: Civic Participation

Declines in club meeting attendance and organizational activity are also serious. Even though the number of nonprofit organizations has been increased dramatically over this quarter century, the number of membership has not been very increased. Most of all of the organizations are too small to make change. Thus, this trend would not be called as a boom of grassroots participation. Many more members in these organizations might not attend the meetings and even they might not know one another. These trends mean decline of active involvement their communities. Revitalizing an organized community life among people is urgent requirement for Americans to rebuild social capital as well as revitalizing a political life.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 8: Reciprocity, Honesty, and Trust

Social trust is a valuable community asset. That encourages people to more engage in community life with others who trust them. However, today, in many more situations, Americans don’t trust one another anymore. This environment likely generates transaction costs mainly generated in case that people distrust others, for example, costs for security enhancement by increase in crime. Actually, the number of employment in policing and the law soared grew rapidly after 1970. These trends did not necessarily need to be caused because society with social trust would not need much policy or law related forces that force people to pay money as a tax.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 10: Introduction

Americans are less connected one another. Communities they belong to do not work effectively anymore because only a part of the members try to control them personally while the rest of the members don’t care of them. Certainly, informal social connectedness within a community has dramatically declined in almost all cases that include club meeting, visits with friends, committee service, church attendance and so on. These trends can be seen in civil engagement. What is the cause of these trends? That is explained in following some chapters.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 13: Technology and Mass Media

Today, many more Americans spend much time in front of a TV screen passively alone. Especially, younger generations tend to watch a TV programs that were specifically associated with civic disengagement. They don’t read a newspaper far more than people who are in the generation of their grandfather. People who read a newspaper have more civil engagements than people who don’t. Also, people who tend to spend more time to watch TV have less civic engagements than those who don’t. The national decline in social connectedness was caused also by such these technologic advances.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 14: From Generation to Generation

When they were young is one of the important key indicators to know about trends of decline in civic engagement and social capital. Each generation that has reached adulthood since the 1950s has been less responsible for engaging community issues than its immediate predecessor. Actually, the former generations have less real senses of belonging to communities such as neighbors, church, and local communities or groups than the latter ones. Thus, the former generations have not been embedded in community life well. The fact has also been a cause of decline of civic engagement and social capital.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 15: What Killed Civic Engagement? Summing Up

In the section, following four factors were introduced as causes of erosion of civic engagement and social capital over the last several decades. First, the working poor have been increasing. Second, suburbanization, commuting, and sprawl have undermined relationship between people, especially, with neighbors and local communities. Third, the advance of electronic entertainment such as TV and internet has significantly transformed people’s lifestyle. Forth, generational change has been contributing steady decline in civic engagement and social capital.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 16: Introduction

What are the features of social capital generally? First, if people are well-connected one another, they can unite and view as a common problem when they encounter a big problem to be addressed in the community. Second, building consensus would be easier to be made so that the community can advance smoothly. Third, social capital encourages people to be aware that our fates are linked. Fourth, it enables people to share beneficial information because people in community with highly social capital have a lot of personal connections. Finally, social capital improves individuals’ lives through psychological and biological processes.

 

Bowling Alone: Chapter 24: Toward an Agenda for Social Capitalists

There are many proposals with the due of the year of 2010 from the author to ensure Americans reconnect one another and rebuild social capital. These proposals deal with; increasing civic engagement and social capital substantially; transforming current workplace to more family-friendly and community congenial; changing the lifestyle from typical suburban life to one that encourages people not to daily long-distance trip and to have more interactions with neighbors; attending faith-based communities more deeply; stopping to addict TV or internet and to spend much time for them alone and, rather, use these technology to encourage people to more engage for the community; being involved in more cultural festival not with a stance of consumers; and being more involved in public life of our communities.

How Sharing and Openness Can Reduce Environmental Impacts

Today, many more people feel overwhelmed and become paralyzed by the scale of the problems facing humanity. Especially, humanity is thrown in to environmental crisis. Natural resources and spaces decrease worldwide dramatically and climate change caused by global warming becomes a reality to endanger the survival of humanity. These environmental issues are mainly caused by human’s extensive activities such as mass-production, mass-consumption, and mass-disposal, and comfortable livings in suburbs with automobile-dependency etc. These activities put a significant strain on the Earth’s environment more than ever before.

One of the biggest problems in terms of the issues would be low operation rates in resources and spaces in this globe. First of all, an example in terms of the resources’ low operation rate is that each family owns furniture like a couch, electronics like a laundry machine and vehicles like personal as a typical modern lifestyle. In case of having a single life, these goods are all utilized only by individuals. Since they are used by only a very few people, they often do not fill the primary function for long hours. These low operation rates are really a problem because wasting resources and spaces is greatly harmful on the Earth’s ecosystem.

Similarly, nowadays, by sprawling, only a few people tend to settle in a big space, building personal structures so the big space is also utilized by only the limited residents. While residents go out of his or her house, the spece itself does not produce any outputs any longer even though it is capable to be utilized in many ways.  People invade hinterlands and develop the lands to raise the operation rate for themselves. However, the hinterlands themselves work to support the ecological system. Timothy Beatley (2000) states in his article, Preserving Biodiversity Challenges for Planners, that “While there are many types of threats to biodiversity in this country, destruction of habitat has become the most significant.” (p. 6). He clearly pointed out the relationship that people undermine habitats for numbers of species that support its biodiversity. That is, it is human themselves that undermine the operation rates of the lands aggressively.

Moreover, bedroom suburbs can be at low operation rates in a scale of town. People go out of their suburbs to go to work on weekday afternoons all together and to go back there only to go to bed all together. This means that the town functions only as a bed for people. While residents go out their habitats, the suburbs themselves do not work even though they have unlimited potential to produce values environmentally, economically, and socially. These facts indicate that people undermine the values that resources and spaces originally have.

These low operation rates are derived from the fact that these resources and spaces are just personalized individually, not opened and shared. Today, many more people attempt to personalize anything to generate their own profits. Tridib Banerjee (2001) states in his article, The Future of Public Space Beyond Invented Streets and Reinvented Places, that “[T]he decline of the public realm is paralleled by a corresponding decline in the public spirit, which resides in the very core of our collective intuitions of civil society (p. 12 ).” This means that the more people loose their public spirit, the more public realm is threaten by personal interests. Similarly, natural resources and spaces can be threaten by the personal interests.

However, imagine what it would be like if these personal goods and spaces are opened and shared with others. Then, how big it has effects on the environment? Not only these operation rates are raised, but also resources and spaces are required less. Moreover, the much more people share them, the more these operation rates are improved and the less resources or spaces are required.

To make this stream become reality, Robin Chase, founder and former CEO of Zipcar, introduces car sharing, bed sharing, and bike sharing at her seminar. She establishes GoLoco to seek for a further new way to share something. GoLoco is a social networking service online that helps people and communities create their own personal public transportation network. The service aims at enabling people to do these practices at pier to pier, not utilizing professional services by public or private organization. These are all good practices that improve operation rates of each material and that keep the resources to a minimum.

Chase also indicates that a dynamics of these practices is not only in collaborative consumption but also in collaborative play, collaborative work, collaborative financing. By gathering people, its human diversity and consensus base decision making makes them possible and more fun. Philip R. Berke (2002) mentions in his journal, Journal of Planning Literature 2002, that “[T]he defining question in the planning field: How can the quality of human life be improved in local communities in the context of global environmental, social, and economic systems? The procedural approach emphasizes diversity, openness, and consensus building but is not equipped to plan for, and implement, a shared civic vision in local planning arenas dominated by fragmentation and conflict (p. 22).” He implies that an openness with human diversity as a community is the key to improve the quality of human life.

To illustrate the mechanism of how sharing and openness based on collective decision makings as a community play a critical role in overcoming the environmental crisis, “collective housing” should be raised as an example. The collective housing is a house in which residents share a part of their lifestyles as a community based on participatory decision making.  Usually, each of residents has a private room as well as the common spaces designed based on the common needs from the residents.  There are usually some people in the common spaces such as a common living and dining room, and residents can join social life at the spaces with other residents anytime.  At the same time, they can be in their own room anytime they want.  This type of lifestyle was invented in North Europe, and expands to the world. Today, it is known as “co-Housing” in the Unites States.

This way of life makes a scale of community that people live in go one stage wider. Currently, living in a house at a scale of family is a norm. However, in case of the collective house, families belong to the community and live with other families and other individuals in the same building or spaces as a community. This means that a lifestyle based on a scale of family is shifted to that of a scale of a bigger community. What is the benefit of the way to live?

First, this way of life encourages resources and spaces to be minimized to use and to be improved their operation rates. A kitchen, a living room, a garden, a terrace, a workshop and so on are not necessarily owned by each family or individual. By sharing these spaces with other families or individuals as a community, people can save spaces. Not only that, they can improve the operation rates of these spaces because many more people possibly access to these spaces by sharing them. Similarly, if electronics in the shared kitchen, furniture in the shared living room, industrial tools in the workshop, automobiles in the parking and so on are all shared in the community, each family or individual do not need to own them any longer. As a result, significant amounts of resources would be able to be saved and each material in the shared spaces can be improved in the operation rates.

Secondly, possibility or power as a community can be raised. The collective housing become a community in which diverse generations, diverse occupations exist. By sharing skills and knowledge among the residents, they often come up with fresh ideas that they have never imagined ever before. Interactions among them accelerate the cycle. This might enable the community to become a zero-emission community by eliminating the waste of resources and spaces and by co-financing for facilities to generate renewal energy sources such as solar and wind. Also, they might be able to establish a self-sufficient life by shared farms in the community would be possible. These examples clearly demonstrate the possibility or power of a community because things, which never be done by a single family or an individual, are possibly done by a community.

Moreover, in a community, some needs among the members could be concerted in a favorable manner. For example, one of core characteristics of the collective housing is an opportunity of “common meal”. The residents prepare their meal on the rotation basis. This opportunity helps the residents to save time because if they participate to prepare a meal for the community members only several times a month, they can decrease the number of meal to prepare several times a week. Also, for instance, if there are both a two-income young couple with their children and an elderly couple, who already did their duty of parental care and wishes to nurture children again, the needs between the two couples are possibly met.

Finally, in the collective housing, residents straddle both private spaces and common ones at a very finely sense of distance. This often provides favorable opportunities among residents to collaborate not only in consumption but also in play, work, and financing together. Tridib Banerjee (2001) shows how privatized public places such as the arcades of Paris and Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica generate new possibilities in addition to just consumption. He states that “In all of these cases, the attempt is to create a public life of flânerie [, the activity of strolling and looking (Tester, 1994, p.1)] and consumerism; whether it actually takes place in a private or public space does not seem to matter. The line between public and private spaces blurs very easily, as was the case in the Prisian arcades (p. 15).” If it is difficult for people to utilize public open spaces, they need to create such a privatized public place to cover the lack of public spaces positively.

These points are all key practices of sharing and openness to diminish environmental impacts on the Earth. By improving operation rates of resources and spaces and cutting down the demands of them, people can have direct effects on environment because of its energy-efficiency, resource-saving, carbon-emission reduction, and nature protection. Also, a community in which diverse human exists creates a new center of culture to help people to generate wisdom to invent a new way of life that is more suited for both them and nature. Moreover, if more human resources are utilized by concerted needs among people forming a small or micro scale community, people can prevent to utilize environmentally-unfriendly commercial services. Finally, personalized open spaces enable people to straddle both private and open spaces freely and to revitalize their various collaborative activities without invading hinterlands further.

The collective housing is the world’s epitome. All practices used in the community can be put to practical use in wide range of communities. A neighborhood, a city, a state, a nation, and even the Earth can be all considered as a community. Actually, some of the practices are used in these communities traditionally. For example, a city plans to save spaces and build up roads, parks, and public structures such as the library and a stadium funded by taxes from citizens. Another example is that people have public services in case that some needs among citizens are met sharing resources and spaces. Therefore, practices utilized in the collective house are possible to be also utilized by such a bigger scale of the communities. Of course, at a micro scale such as among families, friends, neighbors, even among unrelated people, unexpected significant positive effects on environment can be expected by practicing them.

The key to activization of these practices is that people overcome tendencies of personalizing resources and spaces and willingly open and share them. Today, many more people become obsessed by “money” so that they attempt to personalize anything to monopolize their own profits. Even any services are all commercialized and people buy them passively. As a result, resources, spaces, and even human themselves operate or work at a crucially low rate. However, imagine if what it would be like if people can actively try to create opportunities comparable commercial services in their own ways, sharing their resources and spaces. Then, how dramatically does it improve our Earth’s environmental condition? Now is the time to stand up and take action for making the vision into a reality.

 

References

Banerjee, T. (2001). “The Future of Public Space Beyond Invented Streets and Reinvented Places.” Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 67, No.1, Winter 2001.

Beatley, T. (2000). “Preserving Biodiversity Challenges for Planners.” Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 66, No.1, Winter 2000.

Berke, P. R. (2002). “Does Sustainable Development Offer a New Direction for Planning? Challenges for the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of Planning Literature 2002; 17; 21.

Koyabe, I. (2004). コレクティブハウジングで暮らそう 成熟社会のライフスタイルと住まいの選択.

Tester, K. (1994). The Flâneur.

Does Technology Threaten Politics?

In 2008, the global financial crisis occurred which has its roots in the subprime mortgage crisis and bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Eventually, financial capitalism failed as a consequence of excessive globalization. Unexceptionally, Japan, where I was born, has been greatly influenced by the crisis. Even though you might not believe it, Toyota, which represents a company in Japan, fell into the red. Thus, undoubtedly, Japan is also in a major depression. In addition to global collective concerns such as climate change, and world poverty, Japan has the numbers of deep-rooted problems such as a growing gap nationwide, more than 30,000 suicide victims annually, an increasing number of violent crimes, and so on.

Why do such unexpected and undesired situations happen? That is because human experience and knowledge are limited to understand relativities between all phenomena happening in this universe. This uncertainty is a reality and people never been inescapable from it no matter how much we endure. However, people want the certainty for the future and started inventing “technology”. Today, it edges into our livelihood naturally and has huge impacts on it. We might be able to say that politics is also affected by technology in the same manner.

Does technology threaten politics? I can say that it can be. It depends on how people deal with it. That is, since technology itself is neutral without humanity, it can become both opportunity and thread with us. Technology was invented for the human prosperity and, actually, it has made our livelihood convenient, effective, and flexibly. For example, information technology enables us to communicate quickly with a terminal connected with network such as computer and cell phone no matter when and where we are. However, as history shows, technology has changed or destructed physical objects such as landscape, buildings and even human with development, wars and so on. Also industrialization as a technology made it possible to produce a huge amount of goods at a time with less people. It has actually produced many jobs for people but managers who seek just for profit tend employ more technologies than workers for efficiency to produce more. Therefore, as long as people utilize technology, which means it could threaten us, we need to ensure that politics is defended against it.

Crick describes, in the book “In Defense of Politics”, “technology” in politics as “Science”, “Technology”, and “Administration”. Each of them has a visible and fixed object that is some kind of “system”, “tool” or “form”. In general, “technology” is a “tool” invented by people with existing scientific principles to the production of tools and goods. “Science” is a kind of “form” which people have discovered in this universe with existing knowledge. “Administration” is an existing system of how to manage any form of community effectively. We tend to believe that these technologies promise certainty by being testable by experiments and work also at realms in our livelihood in the same manner. Crick says, “’Technology’ holds that all the important problems facing human civilization are technical, and that therefore they are all soluble on the basis of existing knowledge or readily attainable knowledge” (p. 93). However, in fact, technology can apply only to the environments or circumstances in the certain scope that is within human’s existing experience, knowledge or imagination. Thus, technology is not universal something. There is no assurance that technology works correctly at new environments or circumstances because there are a lot of facts that have not been proven in science especially of universe, environment and even human.

This uncertainty is a reality. Our society and environment are formed by various calculations by various experts in economics, science, and politician in their own way. However, we face a lot of uncertain and undesired situations as illustrated in the first paragraph of this paper. Interestingly, also there is something that falls short of expectations from those experts positively. For example, Curitiba, Brazil had been facing considerable problems derived from depending on society based on automobile, which was established by a certain norm called “American Dream” invented by a handful of experts and politicians as a kind of technology.  The problems include a massive traffic jam that requires extra hours to get the destination comparing to the case of public transportation and ineffective development pattern based on automobiles that makes people live a place away from any destinations as well as danger of traffic accident, air pollution and noise etc. From this point, the city effected sweeping reform of transportation from the automobile-oriented way to public-transit-oriented one. Experts in the city expected that it would be long way to go but, as a result, people in the city adjusted the new environment only for a week. This strongly demonstrates that the uncertainty is a reality even with collective knowledge and experience of experts or scientists.

However, people still depend on such experts for gaining certainty. As long as we do it, experts would try to influence on politics with the scientific principles with a semblance of reality to control such passive folks. Today, technology has been spread all over the world as a doctrine that power and production are the same thing. Crick states that “The modern state is simply the governing committee of the bourgeoisie; all power is economics and economics is production”  (p. 94).  Many of the bourgeoisies would try to gain more economic power with technology such as industrialization. Some might seek for power more aggressively with considerable ways that include backstabbing other people.

In this condition, people still overestimate experts but experts become more arrogant with their underestimation of citizen. Crick mentions that, “The complete concept of ‘Technology’ is that of all society itself as one factory of which the state is manager” (p. 94). In this case, the workers who gain benefits from the factory that produces the needs and happiness of them don’t have a right to produce anything without the manager’s skills, direction, and permission. The workers who cannot create any form of certainty by themselves still depend on the manager who could show a certain form whose certainty could prove at the limited environments and circumstances.

What are the disadvantages in such a situation? Crick introduces the position of Saint-Simon in 1821 that is, “In the new political order … the decisions must be the result of scientific demonstrations totally independent of human will … Under such an order we shall see the disappearance of the three main disadvantages of the present political system, that is, arbitrariness, incapacity, and intrigue.”  (p. 96). This means that since technology is utilized as “safety of democracy” not as something necessities for society, the potential of politics is limited. Saint-Simon viewed “arbitrariness” as “no more than product of diversity”, “incapacity” simply as “some sense of limitations”, and “intrigue” as “no more than the conflict of differing interests in any even moderately free state” (p. 96). These disadvantages create the safety of democracy but it just means people are kept away from politics without freedom by experts’ attempts to control politics even in a democratic state.

In states with totalitarian ideologies, these tendencies are obvious. Crick says, “Totalitarian ideologies make claims to be the basis of a world order, to offer a comprehensive explanation of everything” (p. 99). Under fascism, that market-like structure in politics already mentioned above can be seen in a way that personal rule dominates the state. In this condition, the personal authority of the ruler is more critical element than the institutions of the state to decide what to do. Hague and Harrop argue in the book “Political Science: A comparative introduction” that, “Once Hitler and Mussolini achieved power, state and party merged as personal vehicles of the supreme ruler” (p. 349). This is the most obvious way of “top-down” decision-making. In this case, the ruler might refuse any advices not only from ordinary citizen but also even from experts because he can make decision on his own way without any limitation or restraint. This means that the state is controlled only by the ruler who is originally an ordinary man. Since any ordinary man is limited to have skills, knowledge, view points, imaginations, and experiences, the fascist state is the most obvious case of Saint-Simon argued arbitrariness, incapacity, and intrigue.

In a communist state as one of the totalitarian forms, there is an institutional structure unlike the fascist states.  There are the executive, legislature and the judiciary but they are less well-developed than in democracies. One of the most critical differences comparing with free states is that there is a ruling communist party that dominates the formal institutions of the state. In this situation, the power is deconcentrated into more than one person unlike the fascist states. Also, skills, knowledge, view points, imaginations, and experiences from other people could be more shared to quickly adjust to new environments and circumstances than that of the fascist states. However, as long as the power is concentrated and elements for decision-making are dominated only among a certain group or individuals, the nature of arbitrariness, incapacity, and intrigue remain in the state.

There can be the danger of technology against politics in free societies. Rollins states in his article “Yes, Play Politics in the White House” that, “Believe it or not, most people in a White House are not from the world of politics. They are lawyers and experts on the budget and foreign policy”. In this point, it can be understood that those experts have unignorable influences on politics. The most obvious form of technology to be able to be seen in free states is “the respectable disguise of academic social science. Crick states that, “Politcs is, to so many social scientists, a kind of disease: society is a patient ridden with tensions and political events are the unreal, neurotic fixations by which it tries to rationalize these contradictions” (p. 100). Such social scientists know how to convince people with the rational, effective, and flexible ideas in their doctrine even though these ideas are not applicable to all environments and circumstances. So they attempt to prioritize on their scientific principle rather than citizen participation to make decision in politics by making people believe that the principle is certain.

There are two options in free states when experts utilize such their own scientific principles in the realm of politics. The first one is to cheat on people with the notions to have more power. This is the way of making improper use of technology I discussed so far. The second one is to try to use it to change society in a favorable manner also for people. Al Gore, ex-vice-president of the United States, tries to organize a bunch of scientists in the environmental field to gain as many scientific evidences on global warming as possible. At this point, what he does is the same as what modern politicians, good or bad, try to do. However, Gore utilized these scientific evidences to make people wake up to take action, hosting thousands of lectures to introduce the evidences to the “people” in the world. As a result, he earned Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. This indicates that, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, whether technology works effectively or not depends on how people deal with it. Therefore, the critical difference is that how significant such politicians and experts view for participation of citizens.

Currently, those who live in the today’s world cannot forecast how cup of sorrows will be brought into them next by such artificial macro forces and there is no end to the concerns unless they can handle such a problematic governance situation. To make the future more certain, we need as many view points from citizens as possible. That is why citizen participation is required. The need of it would be obvious with “participatory governance” as one of the most desirable example. The significance of participatory governance can be showed also by contrast with design-centered approaches based on top-down approach such as the New Urbanism. For example, these top-down approaches encourage many people to benefit at one time. However, these approaches cannot cover all concerns and problems residents have at each area unless these are conducted as a people-based strategy in bottom-up way. Also, for instance, the New Urbanism cannot sustain desirable outcomes over a lengthy period but just produce immediate outcomes in a short period of time. On the other hand, participatory governance can create a path that leads more desirable outcomes in the end even though quick effects are hardly produced.

Participatory governance draws many players in different interests into one meeting place and encourages conflicts to be arisen among them, which strengthen the decision-making. For example, at the Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee (TPAC), a committee for transportation planning in technical aspects in the Portland Metropolitan region, considerable conflicts are inevitable to be arisen because of the nature of the meeting. The committee is made up of representatives from local jurisdictions such as counties and cities, implementing agencies such as Oregon Department of Transportation, and citizens. Actually, some members made an objection against numerous claims made by speakers at some points, saying “It is not true at all!” in a straightforward manner. It is always accompanied by pain. However, such conflicts are essential in a process to advance projects step by step. Portland has advanced its planning steadily based on the participatory governance. Especially, as for the transportation system, MAX, the extensive light rail transit in Portland metropolitan region, extends its service coverage every couple of years in this decade. It is really a surprising fact to those who do not have good governance in their city like me. The success in transportation system in Portland metropolitan region is largely originated in efforts of the participatory governance. What it does is to bring all players in one place and identify and share essential problems and concerns each member has by encouraging conflicts to occur.

Politics is uncertainty of future. To make the future more certain, at least, citizen participation is required. Technology is consistently only a supplementary element for decision-makings. Crick discusses, “science and politics are different ways of looking at a common reality for different purposes” (p. 103). Technology or science must not be more prioritized than citizen participation. Rather, people have to decide whether each technology should be used or not through the process of collecting as many view points as possible from citizens and delivering what should be more prioritized politically among citizens. The danger of technology against politics is derived from the pride or arrogance of experts. Crick mentioned in the book as a part of his conclusion of the chapter 5, “What they are in fact doing, faced with all sorts of complicated choices and alternatives as to how to allocate scarce resources, is to make political decisions without the institutions and procedures which register actual social demands honestly – a place for people to speak without fear for themselves or the interests of their group” (p. 110). Therefore, as long as we utilize technology, which means it could threaten us, we need to ensure that politics is defended against it.

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How do you imagine a life without automobile?

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How do you imagine a life without automobile? There may be another possibilities for day-to-day drivers to have much better quality of life when they get off their cars. Timothy Beatley illustrated such possibilities in his book “Native to Nowhere: Sustaining Home And Community In A Global Age” with the example of the snowstorm in East Coast in February 2003. Basically, natural disasters are just harmful for us but the snowstorm made people realize another possibilities of life without automobile. To live in a place where vehicles do not exist and people walk in open spaces, there are some benefits for those who drive daily basis. First, it is no danger from any car accidents. Not only that, a place in which many people walk and do something itself provides security so-called “eyes on the street”, in Jane Jacobs’s word. Expanding these safety and secure realms would be crucial for people who cannot drive such as children, elderly people, and people in disabilities. Moreover, such an environment makes people easy to interact and socialize one another. It would be very difficult for drivers to have any interactions with others while driving because of being isolated. By contrast, sitting down and watching beauty of its landscape for a while, people can enjoy socializing with others naturally in such an open space. Therefore, people can bring vitality to the common realm.

Cities in which there are plenty of place where people walk without vehicles have unique cultures.  For example, Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, proudly has many unique cultures such as cultures of food and comedy. People in Osaka prefer to eat at many restaurants, walking around the town. They are also all skilled comedians. In fact, some Japanese consider Osaka as a “foreign city” in Japan because of its otherness. It is said that one of the sources of the uniqueness, I think, is the number of “arcaded streets”. There are 173 of arcaded streets in city of Osaka while there are only 32 in 23 wards of Tokyo. The longest arcaded street in Osaka called “Shinsaibashi-suji” has some 2.6km (about 1.6 mile) in length. Many people in various generation and diverse income always do something and walk unbelievable long distances daily basis on the arcaded streets. Actually, many of local shopping avenues in Osaka can keep vitality with unique cultures generated by people there while many of such streets in other city are suffering to revitalize the streets. People in Osaka might instinctually know “walkable realms without a car” can generate good cultures that fit with and are favorable to them. You don’t need to wait another natural disasters for a trial of life without automobile. Just get off your car, walk around your neighborhood, greet your neighbors and rediscover the possibilities of your place.

Using Urban Vacant Lands More Effectively

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Using urban vacant lands more effectively is a significant key to being sustainable city. For example, a practice of urban food production in Chicago by the small farm started by Ken Dunn shows possibilities to enable every opportunity and every place to be utilized for all the three Es to be sustainable. This farm consists of five small parcels with a small number of employees. Even though the most visible site has only 3/4 of an acre-wide, it generates some $20,000 worth of income to sell its products to local restaurants. By utilizing organic wastes from several restaurants into composts as fertilizer and using the small parcels of land wisely, a large amount of high-quality products can be produced. The income from the products enables the farm enough to have employees, and the products produced by the farm encourage the local economy because of the farm’s community focal points. Moreover, the farm provides more opportunities to connect local people with environment through farming activities as an employee. Ken Dunn estimates there are 9,000 acres of vacant lands in City of Chicago. Why not utilize that land to make the city more sustainable?

I think degree of capacity utilization of each land greatly determines sustainability of a city. For example, in Japan, there are many “Bed-towns”, in which residents of the towns mostly utilize their town as a bed for sleep. Each entire town having huge space is not utilized effectively in daytime almost at all even though each space can be utilized for sustainable practices as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this essay through the urban food production in Chicago. These spaces in such a bed-town can be said that they are used as residential uses, but the degree of capacity utilization of them is considerably low. There is unbridgeable gap in the degree between the small farm lands in Chicago and the lands in such a bed-town. This gap is caused by how to view the space by people in each city. Probably, residents in the bed-town view their lands only as a private living space. In contrast, Ken Donn views even the small parcels of land as valuable resources that can produce values for all of three sustainable elements. Therefore, it is safe to say that the degree of capacity utilization caused by people who live there determines sustainability of their city,

 

 

Place-Making, Community Building and Sustainability are…

Beatley states in the concluding chapter of the book Native to Nowhere, “…that place-making, community building and sustainability are strongly reinforcing endeavors.” (p. 353). They are all effective and essential weapons to enable people to bravely stand up and take action against both the scale and the numbers of problems facing humanity. First, place-making enables people to commit the own places and to strengthen them. Second, community building empowers individuals and encourages them to unlock their highest potential as a community. Finally, sustainability motivates and vitalizes people, being a collective standard that should be achieved.

In 2008, the global financial crisis occurred which has its roots in the subprime mortgage crisis and bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Eventually, financial capitalism failed as a consequence of excessive globalization. In addition to that, an endless variety of complicated issues, such as climate change and global poverty, are facing humanity.  Many more people are overwhelmed and have become paralyzed by both the scale and the number of problems and still remain unable to take any actions, just being depressed about it.

These disastrous results are all derived from lack of place-making, community building and sustainability. Now, intensions made by a few people become the tremendous and out-of-control impacts on this globe. These pressures level down everything as if the numbers of mounds are bulldozed. As a result, the current world’s picture is like monochrome, borderless, and march of sameness in the entire campus. Since people hardly discover uniqueness of their places, they cannot commit their own places. Also, by valuing more individual freedom and privacy, people separate each other at an accelerating pace. Moreover, as I demonstrated in the second paragraph, the current world is unsustainable in the aspects of economy, environment, and social.

By contrast, what is the world based on place-making, community building and sustainability like? Many more people would be included to prevent decisions, which generate unintended results, to be made and to unlock the highest potential as a community at each local place. Then, the world’s art consists of limitless numbers of original small arts that can decorate the entire campus. Since each place is unique, people become to love their own places. Then, people commit their place so they unite to strengthen there, taking advantage of power of a community. As a result, each community can keep its economical, environmental, and social impacts within each realm.

Switching gears to a micro point of view from a macro one, we can realize that many and various actual cases that realize such situations are dotted near ourselves. For example, Columbia Ecovillage is one of the noblest cases. Residents live in the village as a community. They become aware of a growing concern for environment so they try to focus on the place and live there with the minimum ecological footprints. Since the residents use their own knowledge, skills, and fund collectively, the village can aim at becoming a self-sufficient, zero-waste, and non-carbon emission community that is the absolute key to be sustainable, through community building.

Also, we can generate a place that teaches all corners of the globe in new and creative ways. Soka Gakkai Internationa (SGI), the world’s largest and most divers lay Buddhist association, offers a unique opportunity called “small discussion meeting” for every neighbor in the world. The monthly meetings are held in private houses of SGI members. Since SGI has 12 million members in 192 countries and territories, the extensive numbers of the meeting can be held in the world. Diverse people in gender, race, income generation, and occupation in each district come together and tell and share their passions, hopes, and troubles in the place where people trust and care about each other. The meeting would be wonderful opportunity for every neighbor, especially, a new resident to touch the neighbors and the neighborhood, which is the first step for the place commitment.

Now, with the comprehensive exercises at the Community and the Built Environment class, I can design some scenarios of the future for Hiratsuka, my hometown in Japan, based on place-making, community building and sustainability. The city already has many and variable assets for them in it. For example, Komayama-Park, a huge park placed in a nature-abundant hill zone near the Pacific Ocean can be a significant key to attract people in the community. Also, Tanabata festival, an annual big festival in Hiratsuka, offers people to participate and to become the part of the art. Moreover, supporting Shonan Bellmare, a local soccer club team in my hometown, encourages people to unite together and to view them as a community.

Indeed, every person can realize that they have already had treasured assets in each place as demonstrated the above, through my own experiences. Rediscovering these assets would be a starting point for people to develop their place, build their community, and become sustainable economically, environmentally, and socially.

 

Planning Commission Observation

Agenda of the planning commission in Portland on October 28, 2008

  1. Request for Street Vacation : R/W #7001, Alley in Block 5, Albina Homestead Addition; Only Qs and As was held on this agenda without a presentation
  2. River Plan / North Reach Proposed Plan; This is a comprehensive multi-objective plan for the land along the Willamette River, which is facing great challenges such as being piled up contaminations, growing demands and needs for riverfront parks and recreational facilities and for access to the river from neighborhood more easily. Realizing this plan would make the river the city’s most valuable economic, environmental, and social asset for Portlanders.
  3. Schools Zoning Issue Update, Short-Term Work Plan; I’ll elaborate the issue later.
  4. Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Project 4 (RICAP 4); This project is to replace or delete parts of the languages from the zoning code regarding Division Street Main Street Retail Size Limitation, Comprehensive Plan Map Amendments for Industrial and Employment Designations, and Title 17 Public Improvement Code.

The most important issue of the meeting to me

I adopted the Schools Zoning Issue as the most important issue of the meeting. Portland is recognized as one of the most livable cities, and many people come to live in the city every year. Because of that, the city conditions, trends, economics, and demographics have constantly shifted, so the city must adapt to these changes flexibly and immediately.

However, the current zoning code that affects schools and parks has very complex thresholds that possibly trigger unexpected conditional use reviews. Because of such unclear and inflexible thresholds, in many cases, current policies and regulations have not kept up with the changing needs of the city. As a result, not only a number of zoning violation complaints have raised but also it can be harmful to health for people in Portland, especially to healthy development of children. Therefore, this agenda should be addressed urgently.

The outcome from the meeting

There were larger-than-expected renounces of the agenda on the commission. After Eric Engstrom, Principal Planner, Policy and Code Division proposed his work program that are planning to be completed in short term and emphasized that the zoning code needs to be changed to address immediate code enforcement issues related to schools and associated open spaces. After that, nearly 10 testimonies testified issues that they are facing related to this agenda.

Various opinions were exchanged and many concerns related to this issue were raised. Representatives from related organizations which promote to create more open spaces such as Portland Parks and Recreation tended to support what the planner said because changing the code would make their objects easier to achieve. In contrast, people living near a park or a school tended to disagree to the planner’s proposal because realizing the plan would be harmful impact to them in the aspect of concerns from noise, safety, and so on. From a side of commissioners, there were some feedbacks. They recognized the importance of policy flexibility, but they also advised the planner to consider the plan as a long-term-project because code changes would be a big project.

Even though it seems to be about ready to cry uncle, I think this outcome can be very big forward movement. Of course, it would be very hard to overcome this kind of conflicts among people, but a broad range of concerns of this issue was raised and shared by both public and the government only in this occasion. This is an essential part of democratic politics. Therefore, it can be said that this meeting worked effectively.

Regarding the Proceedings

Usually, the Planning Commission hearing consists of the following parts. First, after the presiding officer calls an agenda of the day, the Planning Bureau Project Team has a presentation of a summary of a plan to nine commissioners appointed by mayor and confirmed by City Council. Next, being called from the presiding officer, public testifiers who submitted a testimony card speak their issues into the microphone. Then, the commissioners may question testifiers after testimony. Finally, the Planning Commission discusses the issue to reach a decision or recommendation as far as time permits.

There are some points that I considered as ‘remarkable’ on the proceedings. First of all, planners who belong to the Planning Bureau Project Team have to appeal to Public at a planning commission to realize their plan. They speak to nine commissioners at the same side as public testifiers. This style of approach would be able to lead to form a partnership between planners and public.

Also, citizens can participate in Politics that affect directly them and attempt to overcome conflicts among them by themselves. Commission members are elected from citizens so that they can be also considered as public. During the meeting, one testifier strongly complained about lack of the time to give her testimony. Actually, there was not enough time to give time so that the commissioners attempted to lay her speech over the next time. Because she had had an appointment with the planner to give her 30-minutes-speech, she continued to protest against the attempt. As a result, the commission was thrown into confusion partly. However, some in the side of public tried to overcome the confusion by themselves. That is also the responsibility that the public should take as a role of citizen participation. This happening made me remind the fact.

Absolutely, final decision is made by the city council. However, the proceedings of this commission would be remarkable as a vital part of citizen participation.

Their impact on planning in the city

People can easily know about contents of a planning commission. The contents are usually broadcast not only on TV but also on the web repeatedly without change. All people in Portland possibly know and share issues that were discussed on the commission as their collective concerns. Citizen participation is an essential part of Politics so that it must require inclusion of citizens and sharing information among them. Therefore, this commission can be a crucial impact on planning in the city.

A political system of my hometown, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, Japan, doesn’t offer an opportunity to participate Politics to citizens very much. Disclose record of a commission is limited and even a significant policy that directly affects citizens often goes into effect before they can get a chance to know about the policy. Therefore, the commission in Portland plays a vital role to democratic politics and that role can generate a positive impact on planning in the city.

Zoning Assignment

Zoning_Assignment081106Final

Basic Information

Property Address

1912 SW 6th Ave

Property ID

R246258

Year dwelling was built

1967

Zoning designation (abbreviated and full title)

CXd

Nearby zoning (within one or two blocks)

RXd and CXd

Description of existing neighboring land uses (within one or two blocks)

Residential, commercial and institutional uses are mixed together in a university district with transit streets.

What Zoning Code Says

What Exists on Site

Uses

Permitted

Household Living, All Commercial Categories except Commercial Parking, Manufacturing And Production, Wholesale Sales,, All Institutional Categories except Basic Utilities and Community Service

n/a

Conditional Use

Group Living, Commercial Parking, Industrial Service, Basic Utilities, Community Service, All Other Categories except Mining

n/a

Specifically excluded

Warehouse And Freight Movement, Railroad Yards, Waste-Related, Mining

n/a

Bulk

Lot size

Min requir

ed: None

Actual: 32,750 Square Feet

Height

Max allowed: the tallest buildings, consistent with its desired character, are allowed

Actual: about 150 Feet

Setbacks (front, sides, rear, garage entrance)

Required: front, side, rear: None

Garage entrance: 5/18 feet

Actual: front, side, rear: 0 feet

garage entrance: about 60 feet

Other Requirements, if applicable

Parking

Required/Limited: None

Actual: 60 spaces

Design

Standards (If Any): d

Actual: Modern design University Dorm with shared spaces and class rooms for students

Outdoor areas, landscaping

Required: None

Actual: 7 Large trees and 3 small trees on surrounding side walks

Map of Surrounding Area

Arial Photo (Broad Area) Aerial Photo (Only the Block)

Picture of front side of the Building Picture of rear side of the Building

My First Mid-Term Paper in US

Question.1

Today, there are only a few countries Politics work well. Without exception, in Japan, it doesn’t work at all too. People are frustrated and angry. The New York Times (2008) wrote that “The resignations of both Mr. Fukuda and Mr. Abe, who led short-lived, unpopular governments, have highlighted the lack of stability here since the popular Junichiro Koizumi stepped down two years ago“. The repeated replacement of prime ministers makes political deliberations for critical issues such as environmental issues and low birthrate problems difficult to step forward. Also conflict without collaboration among two biggest parties -The Democratic Party and The Liberal Democratic Party- never end. Distrust in politics by longtime political uncertainty and corruption are building up among citizens. According to the survey of The Yomiuri Shinbun and Waseda University (2008), more than 78% of people who was surveyed responded “dissatisfaction” toward each of the two biggest parties. People are still unaware of how does politics work well. Why don’t politics meet our need? Why aren’t people satisfied with politics? Michael K. Briand (1999) discusses the reasons in his book, “Practical Politics Five Principles for a Community That Work”. In the book, I will analyze his critiques that explain how consumerist politics, and the service, protest, and communitarian alternatives negatively affect to politics. I agree with these critiques.

Consumerist Politics

The first reason Briand raises is “consumerist politics”. “Consumerist politics” contains the meaning of a market-like relationship between buyer and supplier. Fellow citizens seek to obtain political goods produced by the government as if consumers buy products produced by sellers in the market. Politics are not Economics. Why does it happen? The cause is often on the citizens’ side. People tend to lack such a notion that they are also participate in the produce process with their government. This notion must be a basic democratic principle. Because of lack of responsibility they take, they don’t try to invent their own idea of what produce or how to produce. They believe, as if it were common sense, such a notion that they should not change the situation they are facing, by themselves, in politics even if it is causing harmful effect on them. This false sense makes politics get paralyzed to work.

Briand clearly points out four faulty points of consumerist politics. The first point is that people can lose the vote on the following three ways. First of all, they are possible to be a loser forever by “majority rule” that this politics rely on. Also, in the case that there are not enough votes to win in either sides, both of them can lose together. In this case, someone or all of them might be forced to compromise. Furthermore, as long as citizens rely not on choosing a collective decision by themselves but on making decision in the political market, an outcome that no one hopes may be produced frequently.

Second, a market-like competition of private interests among people undermines people’s efforts. In this case, people tend to rely on “power plays” to just concentrate on gathering of people. Such power players never pursuit of the common good so that there are often no alternatives to be raised among them. As a result, not only deliberations are not step forward but people break up each other more seriously.

Third, people who follow the campaign of “just say no” are rather harmful to reach the public decision making on the common ground. Their negative responses such as “power to block” or “NIMBY” not only never produce any solutions but also often ruin a relationship with public officials to work together.

Forth, people in the consumerist politics lack a basic notion for democratic politics that they are responsible for overcoming competitive conflicts among people’s interests. They tend to be confused that decisions should be made by elected officials. Therefore, each of them just pressure on the elected officials to realize the plan they support. As a result, public officials often go into a political dilemma because they are easily influenced by such lobbyists.

Service, Protest and Communitarian Alternatives

Also Briand points out “service”, “protest”, and “communitarian alternatives” as the cause by which politics don’t work.

“Service” is, in this case, a kind of outputs from public organizations. What is the problem of the service? Today, there are many voluntary organizations to provide various kinds of service to citizens. Each of services is classified narrowly by case. They are well professionalized like a service provider in a market. Being formed market-like relationship between a “client” and “provider”, such voluntary organizations attempt to professionalize our social reactions. Their service would be cultivated in the arena of expertise for people. It’s not care that should be practiced in public. That is a proof that nonprofit voluntary organizations have already lost their public character. They try to one-sidedly offer such a service, which often does not reach to people as a care that must be public welfare. In most cases, they make no efforts to obtain consent with citizens, but attempts to control them. In a real sense, this problem is rooted in public. That is, us. We must take responsibility themselves to address their public concerns both individually and collectively.

“Protest” means those who just protest to protect their rights without following any political procedures. When we discuss this kind of issue, we would need to consider carefully the question that “How is power being used, by whom, and against whom?”, which Briand described as “the central questions for politics”. Generally, the public has the power against the public in a way to deliberate, judge and choose individually and collectively among interests that conflict inevitably. That is, going through such a political measure must be an absolute requirement. However, protesters who are in the public never participate in any negotiation in public. Protesting is often the only strategy for them to realize their objectives. Briand (1999) gives warning toward protesters saying “we should be alert to the danger of making the protest approach our strategy of first resort or making it our only strategy” (P.53). They tend to assume they know what can be done in advance and reality of inequality encourage them to resort to a reckless measure. Such an abused power also enables democracy to fall into crisis.

“Communitarian” is a person who is belonging to a certain community but is unaware of responsibility as central player in the community. The character of this type are not to ignore the integral part of political act through the process of judging and choosing while goods among people conflict. Therefore, it is seemingly the way Briand pursuits. However, still, the defect is hidden in this type of approach. To demonstrate it, we need consider “how communitarians deal with essential task of politics” (P.56) Briand (1999) indicates. Communitarians establish a community and attempt to seat on the politics as the community. So such a community can be an influential entity. However, switching gear to inside of the community, the problem is appeared in sight. They often utilize tools such as polls and elections intentionally to define and build up the common good. That is because it’s fast and snappy to meet an objective that is made by a portion of members in a community in advance. Briand (1999) defines “Good democratic politics” as “the result -the “reflection”- of this commitment” (P.55). It turns out that the communitarian approach is definitely against his theory.

Conclusion

I agree with the Brian’s critiques of consumerist politics, and the service, protest, and communitarian alternatives. As long as the market principle works, politics is not “the public”, but “a private”. I will explain the reasons assuming that “a guesthouse” is the private and “a collective house”.

The guesthouse is a house which easily enables people to enjoy a shared lifestyle at a reasonable cost. On the other hand, the collective house is to create a shared lifestyle that the residents need collectively by themselves. Both the two aims an affordable shared lifestyle with others as a community to obtain a wealth of human relationships. However, there are some significant differences between the two. To define the differences, we would learn who operate each of them. A guesthouse is often operated by “a business corporation”. On the other hand, a collective house is usually managed by “a non-profit organization”.

Today, in Japan, the guesthouse is very popular and a number of beds of the guesthouses is increasing sharply. According to the white paper published by Hitsuji Fudosan (2008), the number had increase in number from 1,922 in 2004 to 6,897 in 2007. This is because enough numbers of the generalized beds are prospectively validated at a reasonable price for people as a service. They just choose the one they like from the beds. The fact we have to consider is that the service is based on the market principle because the owners form private companies to operate their guesthouse’s rooms. To pursuit profits, authorities to manage them are controlled by owners. This illustrates a relationship between a provider and the user. Some may say that it’s good because they don’t like to have responsibilities. However, if nothing is done, conflicts between the owners and the users can occur because the owners can use power to refuse demands from the users. If the users can not keep their temper, something that is an unreasonable action such as protest from users may happen. As long as the market principle works in Politics, there would be no shortage of such scenarios.

On the other hand, only a few people in Japan still live in the collective house usually managed by non-profit organizations. If people seek for it, it is not easy to find it because it has not had it shape. In this case, people who gather have to start to design the shape by themselves. This work would be very hard because they don’t know about how to shape it. Not only that they have to reach an agreement shared by those who there are there. However, they would reach the point relatively easily because there is no market-like structure among them. The Japan Times (2003) reports that “[one of the residents of Kankan Mori in Tokyo] enjoys the process and the fact that she can decide how much interaction she has with her neighbors.” Even though it depends on a degree of deliberation, they possibly obtain not only a shared kitchen but also a shared workshop, a shared library and even a shared farm land. This would be the public itself. Therefore, no market principle must be an absolute requirement, if we want to keep the public nature.

Question.2.

In politics, depending on the tools such as money, voting, candidates etc is easy way not to involve in it as much as possible for people. People often attempt to avoid to take responsibilities taken in a process of politics because, for example, political processes such as deciding priorities and collect people’s interests are very hard work. Even for a very small community such as “family”, collisions among people often occur and make them difficult to keep talking. Still more, affairs of bigger communities such as a municipality and a nation is expected to be unimaginable difficulities to discuss there affairs. Michael K. Briand attempts to challenge such difficulties boldly utilizing the principle of “Practical Politics”, which is his theory. The his theory is organized by the five principles -“Inclusion”, “Comprehension”, “Deliberation”, “Cooperation” and “Realism”-.

First principle Briand (1999) defines as “inclusion” means “the process of deciding how to respond to public problems requires the active participation of a broad range and large number of ordinary persons, not just those with formal decision-making authority.” (P.9). I’ll elaborate this principle later.

Briand (1999) explains that “comprehension” makes sense that “decision-making process must begin with a profound and comprehensive political understanding of the matter to which the community must respond.” (P.9). He analyzes such a mutual comprehension is one of the key to success of practical politics. To generate the mutual comprehension among people, Briand (1999) recommends , a discussion among people, based on this principle, should be gone through these five processes: “(1) Collecting statements, (2) identifying motivations, (3) clustering motivations into viewpoints, (4). clarifying the issues, and (5) reformulating the matter for public discussion.” (P.139). Through these processes, people learn the inevitable fact that interests among people conflict and acknowledge each other

Third principle is “deliberation”. Briand (1999) defines it as “recognizing and accepting that every political situation presents us with a hard choice between good things about which people understandably care deeply” (P.10). I’ll particularize this principle later as well as “inclusion”.

According to Briand (1999), “cooperation”, the forth principle, means “working together for mutual benefit.” (P.10). Working together in a constructive way for a collective future shared by people is a significant element of practical politics. On that basis, Briand (1999) argues about distinction between “Collaboration” and the cooperation. (P.153). This encourages people to pursuit their own interests freely. Interests among people often conflict each other. A Martin Wachs (2001) argues it is saying “things should and would be different and better in the future in ways that people could see and hear and feel.” (P.368). As long as these conflicts are a natural phenomenon for human, we attempt not to avoid these collisions but to challenge to overcome them by themselves to reach completion of practical politics.

Finally, Briand (1999) defines ”realism” as “understanding and accepting that a number of obstacles-some small, some large-stand in the way of a widespread, durable, productive practice of practical politics” (P.10) Briand discuss how important we contemplate reality. Today, most of all people in Japan have some degree of such a assumption that Politics is something that is dirty and never change. Therefore, they don’t involve it. They may consider nothing to do as nothing to change. However, a situation varies from hour to hour. Thus, nothing to do often generates a result not only that can be keeping things as they are but also that is worsen before. So we should give up such a just convenient idea because whether we can attain benefits or not would just depend on Politician’s moral. We have to realize that depending on it may be like “Russian roulette”.

I will choose “Inclusion” and “Cooperation” in the five and elaborate on their significance.

Deliberation

A constructive and in-depth dialogue is a crucial part of encouraging people to reach the common sense one another. Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) has fostered a dialogue between civilizations through dialogues of more than 1,600 times so far with world leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry A. Kissinger and Aurelio Peccei. When people discuss and deliberate each other with patience without giving up the dialogue, they can necessarily understand one another. If people stand on their common ground without sticking to individual benefits, they can stare the same respect that is common benefits for all of them. Briand (1999) argues that “All we have at our disposal is our best political judgment, achieved through democratic deliberation.” (P.10). Do we deliberate each other enough to reach common agreement? I’ll discuss what are happening to our real life to analyze the third principle of practical politics, “deliberation”.

Now, on the global basis, suburbanization and sprawl by mainly auto-dependency are going serious. Robert Fishman (2000) argues that the American metropolis are influenced overwhelmingly by policies federal government adopted past 50 years such as the 1956 Interstate Highway Act and the 1949 Housing Act. (P.201). These policies crucially promoted suburbanization and sprawl. According, Fishman (2000)’s analysis through the survey he conducted to research the “top 10 influences on the American metropolis of the past 50 years”, all on the list show some degree of negative impacts to people’s life by suburbanization and sprawl. (P.201). Why did they happen? Are these results really the results that people hope? What or who was responsible for?

The notion of “American Dream” is used widely today started using the term from 1930’s Truslow Adams James (1931), who this term first used, in his book The Epic of America defines “The American Dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” As it is known, as a result of spreading the notion widely, we can see the shape of modern-day suburbanization and sprawl. Many people in America believe this notion even now.

These results clearly come from absence of deliberation among people. How can we avoid such unplanned disasters? Briand indicates some points to avert them. First, people must argue whether it is right or wrong drastically. The example I discuss above illustrates how easily Americans believed what James said. This notion had to be discussed more carefully among people in the United State. Second, we can avoid such disasters in a way to postpone what should be adopted as much as possible. This means that before something is adopted, the retard effect encourages people to raise potential affairs as many as possible. In such a case, “troublemakers” are often beneficial for such the arguments. They are very good at seeking for faulty points from the discussion. Moreover, Briand (1999) points out “responsibility for facilitating a public discussion” (P.139). He encourages them to help a discussion to proceed as smoothly as possible.

Inclusion

We can not exist without belonging to a community. We are belonging to some kinds of communities. A Nation, a municipality, an NPO, a school, a company, a neighborhood and even a family can be considered as a community. A community that many people gather has much more potential abilities to change the situation better than individuals. The many more people there are in the community, the many more degrees of power they might have. Therefore encouraging more participation should be promoted as much as possible. Briand discusses “inclusion” of his five principles in his practical politics as the first principle.

To elaborate this importance, I will use the example of suburbanization and sprawl I used in the section of the deliberation. To stop these disasters, The Smart Growth Plan is underway. Randal O’Toole (2007) define, in the book PLANETIXEN CONTEMPORARY DEBATES IN URBAN PLANNING, the plan as “coercive land-use planning aimed at compact cities, often combined with expensive and ineffective rail transit.” (P.34). This plan’s attempts are mostly opposite side of thinkings people in suburban area have. Therefore, in fact, the significant number of people in America strongly opposes this plan. Anthony Downs (2005) points out the controversial point over the smart growth plan. The point is that “most pressures to adopt Smart Growth policies do not come from the citizenry at large but from one or more of these special interest groups” (P.368). This kind of faulty points is same as the points of consumerist politics. Such exclusions only reflect a portion of people’s interest. Also, such a small group, who controls the public, can not overcome this kind of deep-seated problems. This means full participations as the public need to be required to address these problems.

Briand (1999) argues ““the public” is considered “as meaning all” (P.73). What is the “all” participation? Sherry R Amstein (1969) discusses a degree of citizen participation and classifies the level of the degree in the book A Ladder of Citizen Participation. According to the classification, top of the ladder is defined as “Citizen Control”. This is the example of the state of citizen power.

In New Haven, residents of the Hill neighborhood have created a corporation that has been delegated the power to prepare the entire Model Cities plan. The city, which received a $117,000 planning grant from HUD, has subcontracted $110,000 of it to the neighborhood corporation to hire its own planning staff and consultants. The Hill Neighborhood Corporation has eleven representatives on the twenty-one-member CDA board which assures it a majority voice when its proposed plan is reviewed by the CDA

This example illustrates that the side of citizens have enough power to deal with the challenging problem with Government as a partner.

Conclusion

As I demonstrate above, “Deliberation” and “Inclusion” are both the essential principles for practical politics Briand argues. If either of them is lacking, practical politics don’t work well. Therefore, without avoiding challenges, we should actually practice them adding the rest of three of principles –“Comprehension”, “Cooperation” and “Realism”-

Question.3.

Recent years, in Japan, it seems interactions between neighbors decrease dramatically. Being influenced by suburbanization and sprawl phenomenon, the numbers of houses built up in my home district that is located originally in suburban area. People who originally settle in the district are completely bewildered such a radical change and the newcomers also cannot fit in with our neighborhood. Good old social and cultural interactions that are cultivated traditionally such as Bon Festival, a Japanese traditional dance festival in my neighborhood may be faced the greatest challenge. Losing such a mutual local character means losing interests of sticking to their local. Michael K.Briand (1999) argues “By intentionally saying to themselves, this to be driven or seduced away from it. It is this intentional “inhabiting” that affords neighbors the opportunity to become citizens. (P.171) He indicates a mutual relationship that is community-based between neighbors. I will discuss between what he says and what is happening.

Briand (1999) also mentions how democratic communities encourage people in the community to cooperate to work together. He says that “If democratic community requires activity by citizens in which the coincidence of personal concern and the common welfare can be experienced concretely, what can we do and experience together that we all will find to be good?” (P.171). That is, under a condition of democratic community, people can interact and meet a challenge of problems as their common affairs with not only neighbors who they already know but also those who they don’t know yet. Unfortunately, this kind of situation almost never happens in my neighborhoods any more. This proofs how our neighborhoods are far from the democratic community.

Briand encourages us to start from where we are now. He believes that there possibly are communities that transcend tolerance and acceptance to cooperate one another willingly. Whether it’s possible or not is absolutely dependent on whether each of us can start from where we are and stick to our local neighborhood and reach a mutual agreement that all of the neighbors are willingly to consent.

References

New York Times. (2008). Japanese Prime Minister Resigns Unexpectedly. Retrieved on

October 26, 2008, from www.nytimes.com/

The Yomiuri Shinbun. (2008). 自・民に「不満」8割、「期待」ともに5割…読売・早大調査. Retrieved on

October 26, 2008, from www.yomiuri.co.jp/

Karen J. Blair. (2006). Joining in : exploring the history of voluntary organizations

Michael K. Briand. (1999). PRACTICAL POLITICS Five Principles for a Community That Works.

Hitsuji Hudosan. (2008). ゲストハウス白書.

Retrieved October 28 (2008). www.hituji-report.jp/

The Japan Times. (2003). High-rise denizens wage effort to regain sense of community

Retrieved October 28 (2008). www.japantimes.co.jp/

Robert Fishman (2000). The American Metropolis at Century’s End: Past and Future Influences

James Truslow Adams. (1993). The Epic of Americ

Randal O’Toole. (2007). PLANETIXEN CONTEMPORARY DEBATES IN URBAN PLANNING

Anthony Downs. (2005). Smart Growth

Sherry R Amstein. (1969). A Ladder of Citizen Participation. Retrieved on

October 29 (2008). From lithgow-schmidt.dk/sherry-arnstein/ladder-of-citizen-participation.html

「新しい公共」について「英語で」物申す

これは、夏休みの間に取っていたライティング関連のクラスのファイナルペーパーとして提出したものです。
議論を醸し出すような微妙なテーマを持ち出して、自分の考えを出来る限り読者に納得がいく形で書くのが課題でした。
アメリカ一周旅行中にこれを仕上げました。
テーマは、鳩山政権が打ち上げた「新しい公共」についてです。
ちなみに、このクラスの成績は「B」でした。。。

The cabinet office of Japanese Government declared the “New Public Commons” on June 4, 2010. The idea is originated in the former Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, who suddenly resigned from his position just before the declaration. The concept of the New Public Commons is to encourage citizens, nonprofits, private businesses, and other parties to play an active role in providing public services that governments are used to provide. The declaration starts by stating, “A vibrant civil society in which people support one another ― this is the basic concept presented by the New Public Commons Roundtable set up by the Hatoyama Government. In such a society, various stakeholders voluntarily work together to create a “New Public Commons.”” This might be able to be true. Also, the New Public Commons is pretty similar to the way many other countries including the United States do. Thus, it might be one of the most acceptable directions for Japan’s future. However, is it the best direction? Should the “old” or “traditional” public commons be forgotten or eliminated?

Being absolutely charmed by new possibilities of the “New Public Commons”, forgetting original points, would encourage people in Japan to go a long way around. What is the “Original Public Commons? It is, for example, “government of the people, by the people, for the people” declared by Abraham Lincoln. Have Japanese been able to achieve this original point? Absolutely, they have not yet. Since 1978, which is my birth year, seven prime ministers have resigned in about a year. This unstable political situation indicates that there is a considerable distance between governments and the people. Japanese citizens have not participated in politics enough. Also, the government has not worked well to provide enough public services to the people. Originally, the needs of the New Public Commons are mainly caused by the collapse of the “Original Public Commons”.

There are three problems in the New Public Commons. First of all, as I stated above, the way of it is not prevention for the collapse of the original one but just treatment for it. It is clear that unless the original commons collapses, the needs of the new one continue to be arisen. Is it too busy with their present work to see through the essence of the matter?

The second problem is that the United States, which has been practicing the similar way to the New Public Commons with a lot of nonprofits for a long time, is not always doing great with it. As the book “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded” shows the fact that many more nonprofits and other citizen groups in the country give up their original missions to get money for their activities from their sponsors that can be government, foundations, private corporations etc. For example, in 1999, growing tension between Sisters in Portland Impacting Real Issues Together (SPIRIT) and its parental organization, The Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO) ended up to make the SPIRIT shut down. The two organizations were originated in one organization. As SPIRT made a success and the movements became larger, their foundations and supporters encouraged it to enlarge the scope of their activities. As a result, SPIRIT came to face numbers of limitation originated in the foundations and the parental organization. They no longer continued to work on their tasks without money from the foundations and help from CTWO. Finally, SPIRIT ended up to be shut down. The book introduces many similar organizations whose revolution did not be funded.

The final point is that the degree of citizen participation is limited with the New Public Commons. It expects spontaneously arising citizen’s voluntary activities. However, Japan doesn’t have any community structures that help citizens form a voluntary group. Also, the citizen’s spontaneous activities will create a lot of small “birds of feathers”. They might get along with one another but are unlikely to include different people that give dynamism derived from diversity. Doesn’t Hatoyama expect too much of the spontaneity from the people.

I know some politicians strongly disagree with the idea Hatoyama declared like me. Also, I know some people criticizes them, saying that they just want to keep their citizens poor so that can easily exploit from the people. Of course, I admit that citizen will become wise and improve their participation to politics in some ways with the New Public Commons. But it’s not the point that I want to insist on.

I value the “Original Public Commons”. The type of public commons is to ensure that all citizens could participate in all public decision-making processes at each level of communities in direct or indirect ways. I will demonstrate how it crucial as my claim of value, providing three merits that would reduce the needs of the New Public Commons.

First, with the original public commons, people can be located on the superior part of government, foundations, private corporations etc. This is the most possible way that helps people as a group to accomplish their original missions. The article “A Ladder of Citizen Participation” shows that the ultimate state of citizen participation is “citizen control”. This means that any decision-makings by citizens could not be controlled by any private-oriented groups. The original public commons is the direct way to reach this state of citizen participation.

Second, the original public commons is most likely to include all people in the community. It is based on the place-based political communities such as prefectures and cities. Today, many Japanese don’t care about any levels of politics other than the national level, which citizens are unlikely to be able to influence. Actually, turnout rates are very low at the local level in Japan. Timothy Beatley states in the book “Native to Nowhere” that, “Politics should be viewed as a noble undertaking, and local politics the noblest of all”. He demonstrates how crucial the local governments are. Local governments might be still too big when you want to influence it. Then, neighborhood associations still exist at all corners of Japan as the smallest political community at the neighborhood level. Many of them have not worked very much but could work in the future by revitalizing them. This type of small sized yet all-inclusive communities would be the most possible one to include all the community members.

Third, the small place-based all-inclusive communities such as neighborhood associations help every community create diversity in it. It is not the interest-based community so likely to include different people in generation, gender, race, income, and occupation. Such diversity generates unexpected possibilities or dynamisms. Even conflicts between such different people improve the community because encountering conflicts among people is always a chance to improve. Therefore, the way of Original Public Commons is the seemingly longcut but is shortcut to achieve what it ought to be.

Many Japanese people have a bad tendency that encourages them to be absolutely charmed by something new and to replace old ones into the new ones without any attempts to make a valuation of the old ones. In this case, Japanese people view the old one of public commons as the current collapsed one Japanese have built for a long time. That is not the original public commons that we should really pay attention to at all. Also, the N
ew Public Commons might be better than the collapsed one but can be still just treatment for secondary disasters derived from the collapse of Original Public Commons. What Japanese really need is prevention to keep the original public commons stable. Therefore, the New Public Commons Hatoyama declared would prevent citizens from realizing the essences of matters and force them to go a long way around.