Starting from today's places

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Montepulciano, Italy

Most discussions of place take their orientation from classic examples: the primitive village, the New England small town, Renaissance piazzas, London, Savannah. My suggestion is to start from our new places and refuse to measure them by the classic examples. Instead, look for our own modes of unity and possibility. Try for inspiration from places that are sprawling, fractured, multiple, paratactic, intersecting, from the suburban commercial strip, from the Net, from speeded-up, fragmented, virtual, discontinuous, mobile inhabitations.

Should today's places be like Italian towns or New England villages? We and our lives have changed. We should start from today's places to locate the key features of our new kinds of places, and use them to find neglected features in older places, then use these features to fight the current simplifications and dumbing down of our places.