Interesting insights, Clay. It’s refreshing to discover others thinking along these lines.
I believe from what I’ve seen that spontaneity will play a big role in future communities of place. I haven’t yet made it to Detroit, but it’s on my list of urban adventures I’d like to include in my list: Memphis, St Louis, Nashville, New Orleans and Chicago. I have limited my scope to the Mississippi Basin in hopes of understanding why North America has not capitalized on its amazing topology akin to earlier civilizations that emerged around the Nile, the Amazon and the Euphrates. America seems to have developed from sea trade and its economy appears to favor the coasts.
In the big mid-western cities, I’ve seen forward-thinking groups that had formed naturally and became quasi-institutional within their urban cultures. Smaller cities, especially college towns, have exhibited some of the qualities you describe. What I’m waiting to see is resilient mobile elements that are capable of intentionally nomadic modes of influence that could interweave rural and urban frames together in a balanced way. There is so much fertile land and natural waterway infrastructure between the Rockies and the Appalachians but not near enough human presence to fully work it.
What I think is needed is a mobilization of intact support from the coastal regions to offset the menacing forces that are exploiting the nation’s mid-section for the wrong reasons and propagating a wrong mindset. At least in New England and the West Coast, proper notions of sustainability have entered the collective consciousness. The Midwest, I’m afraid, is under the cloud of 20th Century reductionism, inappropriate producer-consumer relations and the megalomania perpetrated by Big Ag, Big Oil and Big Business. Sustainability evangelism via something like ‘pop-up communities’ could help.
Thanks for the inspiration!