Ten Essential Books for Urban Christians!

May 11, 2017 — Leave a comment

 

I recently finished reading Richard Florida’s important book THE NEW URBAN CRISIS. While I didn’t have a chance to write my review this week (watch for it on our website in the next couple of weeks), I thought that this would be a good time to recommend books in a similar vein that should be essential reading for Christians trying to understand the urban places in which they live and/or worship.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it will set readers on an excellent trajectory for understanding urban places. 

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability

David Owen

Riverhead, 2009

*** Read our review.

Most Americans think of crowded cities as ecological nightmares, as wastelands of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. Yet residents of compact urban centers, Owen shows, individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than other Americans. They live in smaller spaces, discard less trash, and, most important of all, spend far less time in automobiles. Residents of Manhattan— the most densely populated place in North America —rank first in public-transit use and last in percapita greenhouse-gas production, and they consume gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn’t matched since the mid-1920s, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. They are also among the only people in the United States for whom walking is still an important means of daily transportation.

These achievements are not accidents. Spreading people thinly across the countryside may make them feel green, but it doesn’t reduce the damage they do to the environment. In fact, it increases the damage, while also making the problems they cause harder to see and to address. Owen contends that the environmental problem we face, at the current stage of our assault on the world’s nonrenewable resources, is not how to make teeming cities more like the pristine countryside. The problem is how to make other settled places more like Manhattan, whose residents presently come closer than any other Americans to meeting environmental goals that all of us, eventually, will have to come to terms with.

 

 

A Landscape Manifesto

Diana Balmori

Yale UP, 2010

*** Read our review.

PAPERBACK AVAILABLE from the publisher

Diana Balmori, an innovative and influential landscape architect in the field of urban design, makes the case for landscape as an art in her timely and provocative manifesto. This book presents Balmori’s most complete vision yet of the theory and practice of urban landscape design as a discipline that combines the science of ecology with the formal aspects of aesthetics. Here, Balmori advocates a new formal language that reflects a philosophical shift in our traditional understanding of nature, along with “realignments” in how humans relate to nature and live in our world today, changes that will shape the livable city of the future.

A Landscape Manifesto includes discussions of urban ecology, environmental conservation, and environmentally beneficial building techniques. Projects by Balmori Associates, which include the Memphis Riverfront and a port area newly reclaimed by the Guggenheim Bilbao, illuminate Balmori’s innovations. Featuring an introduction by Michel Conan, one of landscape architecture’s most respected historians, Balmori’s book heralds a significant development in the literature of landscape architecture.

 

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