A FOUNDING ACT
Since ancient times, digging a deep well has represented the founding act of great civilizations, and such shared resources have always formed the center around which homes, work and community life emerge.
Like roots drawn to water, there is a place where we all long to be planted. A well built city provides a deep reservoir of connection and opportunity, allowing generations of citizens to find what they need to thrive in the present while also building a future for themselves and their families. Needs include physical things like food, transportation, housing, public safety, and resources to maximize bodily wellbeing. Just as essential are needs of connection to people, places, work, common stories, and other resources for maximizing spiritual and psychological wellbeing.
Well built cities do not appear by chance. They are always the product of inestimable love, attention, and perhaps above all, intention. They are built by builders. When some builders arrive where a well built city will one day be, there is nothing but dirt and trees. When others begin, there is concrete infrastructure but a despairing citizenry. In any case, breaking ground on a well built city does not require anything to be torn down, but rather can materialize as a city within a city. Systems of neglect, corrupt institutions, and broken lives, gradually and steadily replaced by something new. Wherever builders find themselves, much is needed, and in that need they find opportunity.
When citizens of a city have essential needs met, it enables an unmistakable human flourishing, clearly visible as self-actualized individuals positively transform the culture around them. The culture of a well built city can be recognized in a pervasive sense of citizenship and civic duty, proliferating entrepreneurship, enthusiastic endeavor in and appreciation for the arts, and a civil and constructive public dialogue. Citizens of a well built city embrace abundance, repurpose and reinvent, prioritize the vulnerable, strive for the common good, embrace mystery, and practice contentment. Many of them will, in turn, become builders of the same or another well built city.
The builders of a well built city are not always commemorated with plaques and statues. You will know them by their fruit, and its cultivation is their greatest ambition. You can recognize a builder because they love what their city is today while yearning for more. Builders believe that work makes more possible and they spend themselves on that work. Builders create connection, beauty, and value. Builders are always building for more than themselves and their own time.
A well built city can never have too many builders. Come, let us build together.
IS THIS YOUR VISION TOO?
We’ve published this manifesto and happily open sourced much of what we've learned, all in the hope that others will find it useful for building in their cities also.