Wednesday, April 30, 2008


The Big City Plan

In the sky palace, at the grand table, the great lord’s emissary sets out a vision. Conjuring images in the air of the city below in all its different future forms. The sages round the table are here to add their wisdom. Heads nod and lips purse in counterpoint. Highgate is to be transformed. Paradise made over. Trees will break through stone. Wild life will encroach. Desolation will be swept away. Hands will hold hands. Poverty will cease to be.

What a crazy thing it seems to be, to try and shape this chaos. I look out over south East Birmingham. City Planners bag top floors in order to see the world as their model. This view is stunning, but how do you start to mould this thing? It’s a fascinating thing to listen to, an adult version of the games I played out at a child; fantasy cities. Then, on cross-hashed paper I was omniscient, now I feel less than sage.

Of course we’re just meeting with a representative of the dreamers and round the table we are dreamers who have to do too. Our suggestions and questions are too detailed or deferred to a doer who is to follow. In truth, the sky palace looks down on a capitalist jungle. No politburo sits at this or any other table in these towers. The floating vision is to be accomplished through nudging and suggesting and lobbying and bidding and frowning and smiling, all strategies to create the right conditions.

This is The Big City Plan taking shape. I’d urge those of you living or working in Birmingham to look in on it, you may feel more sage-like than me.


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