Swirling around the political discourse regarding global warming and record high gas prices are fundamental questions about city and community life in modern America. Increasingly, public officials and those in leadership positions speak of “smart growth” and its ugly alternative, “suburban sprawl.” Often forgotten, however, in the political wrangling is the heart of the entire issue: What is it that makes a city good? As important as revitalizing physical spaces might be, however, it can only do so much. Missing from the dialogue on what ails American cities is indicative of the individualistic society in which Americans live: civic associations and authoritative institutions outside of government. Yet, associations and the ideas to which they are dedicated are essential if cities are to regain their prominence in American life. Only when this larger truth is recognized and understood will political discourse start to bear the fruit of a more meaningful community life.
Robert Driscoll, "Ideas, Associations, and the Making of Good Cities," Journal of Markets & Morality 10, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 27-40