Wednesday, March 28, 2012

[EQ] Social Cities

Social Cities

Kelly, J-F.; Breadon, P.; Davis, C.; Hunter, A.; Mares, P.; Mullerworth, D.; Weidmann, B.,

Grattan Institute Melbourne. - Report No. 2012-4, March 2012

Available online PDF [68p.] at:

“……Without relationships we wither – individually and collectively. Yet our understanding of the human dimension of cities lags behind understanding of economic and environmental issues. The ‘productive city’ and the ‘green city’ are both further developed in thought and policy than the ‘social city’. Of course economic activity and a clean environment are essential to thriving cities, but cities must also help people to connect with one another….”

“…..In planning, building and redeveloping our cities, we consistently consider such factors as financial cost, economic productivity and environmental footprint. The social impact of projects, however, is rarely given equivalent emphasis. Perhaps this is not surprising. Material needs like housing (shelter) and income (jobs) are more familiar and easier to quantify, yet there is strong evidence that an adequate level of social connection is just as critical to our wellbeing.

Many of the issues facing our cities are enormous, difficult, and expensive to tackle – and residents often feel they have no say about decisions affecting them.

However, improving social connection is not necessarily hard or costly. As many of the examples in the ‘ideas’ appendix to this report show, individuals and small groups can often make a real difference without massive investments of public money…..”

Bringing people together

Out-of-hours use of schools.Increased evening, weekend and holiday use of school buildings and sports grounds would create new opportunities for social


Sharing household resources -
According to one estimate, the drills in private homes are used an average of 12 to 13 minutes over their lifetime.160 People in the

same neighbourhood might have tools they rarely use, or a garden they don’t have time to cultivate. Under the rhetoric of 'collaborative consumption', websites such as Share Some Sugar in the US or Open Shed in Australia match locals to share resource….

Sharing Homes

Many older Australians live alone in large homes and need just a little support and companionship to remain independent….

Personalised care networks

The social networking application TYZE was developed in Canada as a way to coordinate support around a vulnerable individual, such as a frail older person or someone living with a disability or chronic illness….

Hyper-local websites and other online networks

A great deal of online communication takes place between people who are already in close proximity to one another. Hyper-local websites encourage neighbourhood social connection by sharing local news, posting information about events, debating planning issues and lobbying government….

Big Lunches

The Big Lunch is an annual event designed to encourage as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours “in a simple act of community, friendship and fun…..”.


Neighbourhood clean up days

Clean up Australia Day is a national event organised by neighbourhood, which brings local residents together for the common purpose of enhancing the environment….
Walking Groups

Walking school bus

Dog walking areas …”




1. What is social connection, why is it important, and what does it have to do with cities?

2. City structure

3. Neighbourhoods

4. Streets

5. Buildings


6. Appendix – ideas for social connection in cities

7. References



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