Building the World

May 1, 2019
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Jakarta: first capital to move due to sea rise

Rivers and canals of Jakarta, Indonesia. Image: wikimedia.

 

MOVING THE CAPITAL DUE TO SEA RISE: Jakarta, Indonesia is the fastest sinking city on earth. Sea rise threatens the city, located on land intersected by 13 rivers. A busy port, Jakarta is congested and dense; heavy port buildings weigh down the terrain. As the capital, Jakarta also supports government, industry, and a burgeoning population. Residential and industrial water needs result in considerable pumping from the rivers, further draining the land mass. Another burden of density: traffic – Jakarta’s is among the world’s worst. And then there’s the residential buildings: 10 million people call Jakarta home, making it one of the world’s megacities. Skyscrapers dot the skyline, adding weight. Jakarta has sunk eight feet in the past decade, and the subsidence continues. Half of the city is below sea level.

Baghdad, surrounded by the Tigris River. Image: wikimedia.

NEW CAPITAL, NEW VISION: Changing the capital of a country is not unique in history. Baghdad was founded with a new vision, drawn as three concentric circles with a stroke of the Caliph’s sword marking the new capital. As Baghdad rebuilds, will Frank Lloyd Wright‘s plans and drawings bring Al Mansur’s vision to life as Madinat as-Salam, “City of Peace?” Other times, capitals moved inland from ports: Lagos, a port city, begat Abuja, moving Nigeria’s capital to a central location designed with vision and values including Haussmann’s Paris and L’Enfant’s and Banneker’s Washington, D.C. Rio de Janeiro ceded its position as capital to Brasilia, in part because the city of Ipanema beach became too dense; coastal location also meant vulnerability. The new capital, Brasilia, was central to the diverse country, representing a wider vision. Lucio Costa designed the new capital to be built in the shape of an airplane; Brasilia was the first city built to be seen from the air.

Costa’s Plan for Brasilia, in the shape of an airplane. Image: Library of Congress.

NEW BALANCE OF POWER: Just as Brazil chose an inland location, and Nigeria selected Abuja to relate to the center of the country, so Indonesia’s possible choice of an area of Borneo might represent a wider view. Palangka Raya is in consideration, in part due to a previous proposal by first president (1945-1967) Sukarno.

FUTURE OF COASTAL LOCATIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE: Jakarta is a case example of the future. Rising seas may inundate some of the greatest cities in the world, many built as ports. As Indonesia begins to move its capital away from Jakarta, it will rebuild the coastal metropolis to defend from sea rise: “By 2050, about 95% of North Jakarta may be submerged,” according to Heri Andreas, Bandung Institute of Technology. Can innovations such as those proposed by Lempérière and Deroo to use canals, and rivers, to combat rising seas, help Jakarta and other port cities build a safer, better future? Will the Belt and Road Initiative build very different kinds of ports, using rivers, canals, and urban harbors to address sea rise?

Afra Sapiie, Marguerite. “Jokowi wants to move capital out of Java.” 29 April 2019. The Jakarta Post. https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/04/29/jokowi-wants-to-move-capital-of-java.html/.

BBC. “Indonesia’s planning minister announces capital city move,” 29 April 2019.

Lemer, Andrew C. “Foreseeing the Problems of Developing Nigeria’s New Federal Capital.” In Macro-engineering and the Future: A Management Perspective. edited by Frank P. Davidson and C. Lawrence Meador. Boulder,  CO: Westview Press, 1982.

Lempérière, François and Luc Deroo. “Peut on éviter les inondations à Paris?” January 2018. Symposium du DCBR : comité français des barrages et réservoirs. http://www.barrages-cfbr.eu/IMG/pdf/symposium2018_10_deroo_lemperiere_peut-on_eviter_les_inondations_a_paris.pdf

Litwin, Evan T. “The Climate Diaspora: Indo-Pacific Emigration from Small Island Developing States.” 2011. University of Massachusetts Boston. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers/cfm?abstract?id=1912859.

Kennedy, Merrit. “Indonesia plans to move its capital out of Jakarta, a city that’s sinking.” 29 April 2019. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/04/29/718234878/indonesia-plans-to-move-its-capital-out-of-jakarta-a-city-thats-sinking.

Toppa, Sabrina. “These cities have the worst traffic in the world, says a new index.” 4 February 2016. Jakarta, Istanbul, Mexico City, Surabaya, and St. Petersburg top the world’s cities among 78 surveyed. Time Magazine. http://time.com/3695068/worst-cities-traffic-jams/

Appreciation and recognition: David Edwards-May, Inland Waterways International, Andrew C. Lemer, Evan Litwin, and Cherie Potts for contributions to this post.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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October 14, 2017
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Capital Idea: New Nafta

Seeing earth from space, individual countries fade in the reality that regions may be the true nations. Image: wikimedia.

NAFTA is in the news, but it may soon be history. Now is the time for developing visions for a better, stronger, more sustainable, and kinder, regional alliance. One look from space shows not a troika of nations but a connected region. One aspect that should be added to current negotiations among Canada, Mexico, and the United States: water. The precedent of the Colorado River Compact may help address current considerations of shared water, especially transboundary aquifers? Another eau de vie, education: might scholarly and cultural exchange mingle the waters?

A new capital could signal the vision. It is timely. Recent earthquakes affecting Mexico City reopened conversation about the current capital built on a lakebed, not far from volcanoes. Should Mexico consider moving the DF? A federal district, such as Mexico’s capital or Washington, DC, is by definition its own moveable feast. If Mexico were to move the DF, could the new capital symbolize a regional vision embracing Canada, Mexico and the United States, in honor of shared resources? What architects should design the new city?

What’s in a name? Could TLCAN-ALENA-NAFTA become TAN? Image: wikimedia.

Finally, if Nafta emerges from current talks, it is time to unite nomenclature. How can there be a common vision when, at present, there are three acronyms for the same entity:

TLCAN – Tratado de libre comercia de america del norte https://www.sec-tlcan-mex.org/

ALENA – Accord de libre-échange nord américain http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/N-23.8.pdf

NAFTA – North American Free Trade Agreement http://www.worldtradelaw.net/fta/agreements/nafta.pdf

The new name might honor a letter from each treaty, resulting in a shared word with meaning in all three languages – TAN. Or initial the countries: cam or mac. But perhaps the alliance that really matters is bigger, representing the land as seen from space. Will these and other issues be debated at the XVII Congressional NAFTA & Border Issues Conference at the Library of Congress in Washington on 26 October 2017?

For more:

Eckstein, Gabriel. “Buried Treasure or Buried Hope? The Status of Mexico-U.S. Transboundary Aquifers under International Law.” International Community Law Review 13 (2011), Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

McHugh, James T., editor. Toward a North American Legal System. (2012), Palgrave Macmillan.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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October 13, 2016
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Nobel Surprise

Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate. Image: wikimedia commons.

Bob Dylan (who changed his birth name to honor the poet Dylan Thomas) won the Nobel Prize for Literature today. It is the first time the prize has been awarded to a songwriter; although many would argue that Bob Dylan is a poet, like fellow laureates T. S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats, whose work is deepened with music. Among Dylan’s anthems, “Blowin’ in the Wind” was performed at the Washington Mall just before Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Bono, citing Keats, stated that Bob Dylan “juggled beauty and truth.” What is the role of the poet in political change and world issues?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 15, 2015
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Strong Cities: Boston

“B Strong” badge. Courtesy of Boston Red Sox/Major League Baseball. Image: wikimedia commons.

April 15 marks the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, and the power of a city to rise in response. Turning tragedy into actions of peace, Boston inaugurates a new tradition: One Boston Day, honored by acts of what Mayor Walsh termed “resilience and goodness.” Do cities possess inherent power through the good will of citizens? Washington DC was built with open spaces to promote democratic gatherings. Boston may inspire the way to peace: a city strong, through kindness.

http://www.onebostonday.org/

http://runforkrystle.com/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 31, 2014
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Innovation and Inclusion

 

“He was Boston,” Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking of Mayor Thomas M. Menino (1942-2014). Image: wikimedia commons.

Thomas M. Menino, Boston’s legendary Mayor (1993-2014), created a legacy of innovation and inclusion. Founding an Innovation District in 2010, Menino and team brought more than 4,000 new jobs and 200 companies to the city. Opening hearts and minds, Mayor Menino also opened the gates of the city to greater inclusion and opportunity, including excellence in public education. Mayors influence success; cities may respond with greater agility to problems and opportunities. What will cities of the future learn, from Tom Menino?

More: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/10/31/remembered-tom-menino-week/

http://www.bu.edu/ioc/

http://www.c40.org/

Barber, Benjamin R. “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.” Yale University Press, 2013.

Hargreaves, Steve. “Most Innovative Cities.” October 7, 2014. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2014/10/07/greatest-urban-projects/index.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 12, 2014
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Way of Rights

Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, present at 1215 signing of Magna Carta. Image: wikimedia commons.

800 years ago, rights took a leap forward. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, champion of human rights,  is credited with an influential role in the Magna Carta, or Great Charter. The agreement, accepted by “manus” (Latin for hand but meaning legal power, similar to handshaking on a deal) by King John at Runnymede, on June 15, 1215, gave birth to rule of constitutional law in England, and later the world, including the United States’ Constitution. Magna Carta, the Great Charter, along with other landmark documents including the Emancipation Proclamation, and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, visits Massachusetts in October. What are the evolving rights of the future? Will Bolivia lead the way?

About Magna Carta: http://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-english-translation

Magna Carta in Massachusetts: http://www.clarkart.edu/Exhibition/Magna-Carta.aspx

Bolivia and the Rights of the Earth:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/10/bolivia-enshrines-natural-worlds-rights

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 7, 2014
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Capital Idea

Will North America create a Cap City? Image: wikimedia

What is the nature and role of a capital? Washington, DC is among those capital cities located in a separate district. Mexico’s DF (Distrito Federal) was also established to be located by Congress, according to Section XXVIII of Article 50, Constitucion Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1824. The DF’s population of 8 million is smaller than that of Greater Mexico City, population 21 million, where the Federal District is located. Like Hemingway’s engagingly-titled novel, perhaps a capital city can be a “moveable feast.” New capitals have been founded throughout history: Canberra, Australia; Brasilia, Brazil; and Abuja, Nigeria were each purpose-created new seats of government. In the future, capitals may expand to what Doxiadis termed “regional conurbations.” Should Canada, Mexico and the United States utilize Nafta precedent to create a Cap City to manage los bienes comunes including water, energy, public health, education? At the center of such a Cap City might be a great university, where all students learn English, French, Navajo (Dine Bizaad), and Spanish, whose mission is development of a new generation of transnational leaders. What should the Cap City of North America be named? Where located?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 9, 2013
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A River (of Green) Runs Through It: Boston’s Central Artery

Boston’s Greenway. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Greenways, like the Rose Kennedy Greenway, jewel of the Central Artery in Boston, Massachusetts, offer economic, artistic and public health benefits. An urban equivalent of the Appalachian Trail, such stretches of nature bring fresh air into dense cities including Dalian China, planned to emulate Haussmann’s Paris and the Washington, D.C. of L’Enfant and Banneker. But greenways may provide another aspect of public health: disaster response routes. City centers are prone to blockage; greenways could serve as pathways to safety, and as a means of reaching critical areas. Meanwhile, these ribbons of green keep city dwellers healthy. Sunday bicyclists traversing the Paseo de Reforma, in Mexico City, could use the same route if an earthquake strikes. Might the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (www.umb.edu/crscad/) lead the way for an expansion of urban greenways in the world’s cities vulnerable to earthquakes?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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March 27, 2013
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Cherry Blossom Diplomacy

Cherry Blossoms at the Washington, D.C. Tidal Basin, from Library of Congress at loc.gov.

Springtime is official, in Japan and the United States, when cherry trees blossom. Long a tradition in Japan, flowering cherry trees, or Sakura, are celebrated as a national treasure symbolizing life’s evanescent beauty. In 1912, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, Japan bestowed upon the United States a gift of 3,020 cherry trees to be planted in the capital of Washington, D.C. During the next seven years, 1,800 Somei-Yoshino trees were set around the Tidal Basin, while the very special Gyo-i-ko variety were reserved for the gardens of the White House. Later, in 1952, the United States was able to return the favor when a particularly beloved Tokyo cherry grove needed restoration. The National Park Service sent cuttings from the original gifted Japanese trees so that Japan’s capital could reestablish the Arakawa River garden. Statuary soon joined the other monuments for which the United States capital is famous: on April 18, 1958, a Japanese Pagoda was presented as a gift by the Mayor of Yokohama to “symbolize the spirit of friendship between Japan and the United States of America as manifested in the Treaty of Peace, Amity and Commerce signed at Yokohama on March 31, 1854” (www.nps.gov/cherry/cherry-blossom-history.htm). Each spring, in the United States and in Japan, diplomacy is renewed.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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