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Urban Villages~ a missing governance unit

Joe Lambke shared ideas about Urban Villages with other Urban Planners at RadicalxChange's 2020 Conference


Urban Villages are small governance units of 100-500 people, nested and networked into a larger neighborhood or building that coordinates individual investments to support village-wide social and economic well-being.





Urban Villages provide camaraderie, relaxation, asset management, and collective power. A minimal public space, the Village Center is a visible symbolic place where repetitive interactions occur, supported by access to goods and transportation. Financial incentives and safety concerns specify a permeable boundary of any particular Village. Coordinated with others, each Urban Village contributes to the character and success of the larger neighborhood.

There is an increasing need for these social places in the centralized world of democratic capitalist governance. Last century’s City Planning strategies eliminated this administrative unit through the practice of Zoning-by-Function. Meanwhile, corporate pressures consolidated mixed-function services into more efficient structures: Jack’s corner store gave way to Amazon’s super-market. Some efficiencies were excellent, however social norms have deteriorated. Small-scaled, or low-risk, exchanges allow for informal behaviors between free-acting residents. Frequent interactions increase the emergence of civility and cooperation in Urban Villages.

open civility, creating responsible financial futures, locally

Networked together into distinctive neighborhoods, Urban Villages can coordinate ecosystems of different aspects of urban life. Urban Villages become an opportunity to upgrade social behaviors, educational quality, business opportunities, and the quality of the environment in which people live. New digital administrative tools are great, yet informal administrative tools are more successful at small scales. Therefore, it is the physical Village Center that primarily determines the success of Urban Villages. In higher-density cities, buildings become neighborhoods, with many Urban Villages inside and associated social spaces facilitating informal community administration.

blogging ideas along the way

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