Friday, September 04, 2015

What Albuquerque needs to do... Since 1993

V.B. Price:  City at the End of the World on Colores

In an over-urbanized world, in which over half the population lives in cities, if a little town like Albuquerque is going to compete in the urban marketplace of the future, it must protect it's greatest asset, which is its rarity, it's individuality, its uniqueness.

In the future, choice will be key...  There will be so many urban environments, there will be so many human beings, that the places that maintain their essential character and their respectful relationship to the land will have a tremendous advantage over all the other urban environments that don't.

Our challenge in the next 20 years is not to go for short-term, cheap-shot profits but to hang onto our essential character and beauty.
Even with all that's happened to Albuquerque since the war, we are a beautiful place.

We still have this landscape, we still have the river, we still have the volcanoes, we still have the mountains, we still have the bosque, we still have our people.

We are a unique environment, and we are an endangered environment.

Unique urban places are endangered places all over the world because of a globalizing commercial culture which want all of us to be the same kind of person so it can sell things to us.

Urban environments not only contain people, contain cultures, they shape them. When you have a place as unique as ours, with different kinds of populations and different kinds of cultures intermingling, this is not a place that's easy to sell to.  What some people want to do to us is to flatten us out, make us like every place else. That's why we're in danger. Culturally, we are in danger because rapid growth is swamping us, not necessarily with careless or uncaring human beings, but with huge number of people who know nothing about this town, and who more importantly have been told nothing about it by our leadership.

The collective myth of Albuquerque which used to be so present every place we went... When I came here in 1958, I met person after person after person who was proud to be a New Mexican, proud to be an Albuquerquean, who would tell you at the drop of a hat why they loved to live here, who understood all kinds of things about this place.  Now you hardly meet anybody who knows anything about it at all. Now's that's going to happen, obviously, if you have massive, rapid growth like we've had.

But there's only one way to counteract that, and that is to have large-scale, persistent educational efforts on the part of all of the schools and all of our elected leadership. And not just the kind of slogan-eering that goes into skiing and the Balloon Fiesta. You have to talk about real things, real human beings, real neighborhoods.


How carefully and  respectfully we try to keep the connections to the past alive is the degree to which we flourish as a town that knows itself.

Its originality, its individuality, its personality as a distinctive, eccentric town in the southwest is very close to being lost, and once you lose it, you never get it back.  Endangered cities that have worked to preserve their connectedness with the past have realized that their towns have grown geographically, and that the farther from the center that their towns have growth, the farther from the past they have also grown.  Town that have maintained their identities have struggled to keep the historical connection with the past in their downtowns. We've struggled to do that, too, we've done a fairly good job of it.

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