(One of the largest projects that has been done in terms of New Urbanism is in SeaSide Fl, ok so I’m a bit bias for my state’s progressive thinking…) 

I recently picked up a book by a New Urbanist author, Global City Blues. I have tell you the first twenty pages were a delight to read. What is new Urbanism you ask? Well wikipedia gives a short definition;

New urbanism is an urban design movement whose popularity increased beginning in the 1980s and early 1990s. The goal of new urbanists is to reform all aspects of real estate development and urban planning. These include everything from urban retrofits, to suburban infill.

There are some common elements of new urbanist design. New urbanist neighborhoods are walkable, and are designed to contain a diverse range of housing and jobs. New urbanists support regional planning for open space, appropriate architecture and planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing. They believe these strategies are the best way to reduce the time people spend in traffic, to increase the supply of affordable housing, and to rein in urban sprawl. Many other issues, such as historic preservation, safe streets, green building, and the renovation of brownfield land are also covered in the Charter of the New Urbanism, the movement’s seminal document. Because new urbanist designs include many of the features (like mixed use and emphasis on walkability) which characterized urban areas in the pre-automobile age, the movement is sometimes known as Traditional neighborhood design

As soon as I began to wonder whether any Christian cultural critics had picked up on the topic I came across this book endorsed by Eugene Peterson, written by Eric, New Urbanism and the Sidewalks in the Kingdom.

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I haven’t had the time to check this book out from the library yet but I intend to add it to my wishlist. When I think about the imageo dei being interpreted in terms of the communal nature of man reflecting the Trinitarian community I can’t help but think that some of what the New Urbanist are raising in their proposals for new forms of city planing needs to be heeded. The idea that space and location does something to us as people made in the image of God should be something that immediately resonates with our theology of city. That is one of the things in mind that makes gentrification so dangerous as a community dynamic, we are not just depriving the poor of their physical home but by moving them we may be depriving them of their entire self-reference of home. Unfortunately I’ve noticed that many of the examples of New Urbanism i’ve come across would be out of reach of the poor, but the philosophy which drives it is something I’m only just beginning to explore and has already shown signs of promise to myself.

For those of you in Urban Missions I’d love to hear your thoughts on New Urbanism and the role we as Kingdom minded Christians should play in relation to it.