“Our neighbor is a potential enemy, as long as we cannot avoid him – but maybe a friend, if the possibility of encounter is provided.”
„Unser Nachbar ist potentieller Feind, solange wir ihm nicht ausweichen können – vielleicht aber Freund, wenn die Möglichkeit zur Begegnung zur Verfügung gestellt wird.“
– Herman Herzberger
I think this is one of the prime problems with Jordan’s design; the lack of contact.
Also, this post contains a degree of generalizing by the way, nitpicks be warned.
If you’ve read any of my previous urban-related work, you’ll know that I’m very much for encounters between people. I believe they really do cause the mending and shaping of culture. Change will only happen when people interact. And I’m sure there are Jordanians who would admit the fact that they do not know nor trust their neighbors, and that they would not talk to them unless they need to.
Furthermore, the ability to hide from people within the comfort of one’s home while being able to gain what they need for survival could further hurt the social fabric of a neighborhood. Kids do not play outside together as often as I remember. I recall the streets being ridden with kids playing with fireworks and football in certain times, and this decline in “kids playing outside” (very professional phrasing, I know) should not be allowed to go on, as kids do really make a lot of the neighborhood’s social fabric, especially when the parents are forced to meet for the sake of knowing who their kids are socializing with.
I think the government should know better and should be designing the city so as to force encounters to happen, and to force them to happen in public, so that they would not be life-threatening. Well this should all, of course, happen gradually while the education system is improved to push people away from violent solutions to problems. However, this “real” world encounter is what causes people’s opinions to change, as they are forced to improvise/react naturally.
Is it on their agenda? Possibly. Even if it were, they would not say, I think people would not like to mix that often, as they do not really trust each other as a people, except maybe in certain areas. But maybe that is why the gas prices are increasing, forcing people to walk to a bus stop more often and thus meeting more people and, hopefully, to interact.
I know this is very idealistic, but I think it’s a goal, and it can only happen when the people themselves resolve their problems so they would be able to get along, probably even creating a smoother economy and trust between people to serve better products; forcing local markets and shops to be more common and a better alternative for people than brand names and imports.
People have to have a general culture to go by that is not led by religion or tribalism or any sect whatsoever, but rather a culture created by the people. This is really why arts should be made and put out in the public realm rather than only in pubs and festivals; so they would become part of people’s everyday lives, and so they could express the streets (the public realm) more accurately.
Yes, I know, people have bigger concerns, but the government should know what to support in order to make things happen.
Whew… Let’s end it with a joke… Oh wait… I guess I already did. Low blow, I know. But I’m trying to hold any reader’s attention span by this point. Oh well.