Can we have positive urban growth?
Can we have growth without congestion, pollution, social degradation, unaffordable housing and other ills that plague Auckland's growth?
The answer is yes, but only if we reinvent the core concept of how we build communities
We can have:
- Growth without congestion (don't drive, use fibre)
- Growth without pollution (including a low carbon economy)
- Growth that is affordable (afford a home, have a reasonable cost of living)
- Growth that is economically self-supporting, not a drain on the taxpayer
- Growth that diversifies NZ's exports to help NZ attain fiscal sustainability
- Growth that is deeply and truly attractive (people want to live there)
- Growth that is democratic (for all, not solely for the comfortable class)
- Growth that is safe, secure, healthy, for all ages, stages & walks of life
- Growth that enables youth to become autonomous, self-supporting
- Growth that reinvents retirement, self-insured infrastructure for ageing
- Growth that includes personal growth: artistic, intellectual & spiritual
Let's face it, Plan A (automobile-based suburban sprawl) is not working anymore. We need a Plan B.
We call it MarketTown. It problem-solves and aims higher. It is possible because of shifts in technology are redefining the economy. In a world linked by fibre, New Zealand is no longer on the edge. We can thrive, but only if we reinvent growth.
The MarketTown answer: technological, economic and social attraction.
Fibre changes everything. We are witnessing a shift in technology that vanquishes distance and expanded almost every capacity of human beings... the brain, the hand and foot, the eyes and ears, and all of this is linked by ultra-high speed fibre. The next wave of technology is 3d printing, as everything from human skin to NASA settlements in outer space is on the drawing board. Instead of shipping goods, we will upload digital instructions as shipping is replaced by electrons. This means that anywhere in the world where there is free and unlimited fibre, new industries can thrive. What makes New Zealand competitive is its quality of life.
This technology shift is important because is has the potential to eliminate commuting. We can instead build whole towns in which all day-to-day destinations are within walking distance. One needs about 20% of a town's businesses to sell local to global, which is where fibre-based industries come in, where given a critical mass, the remaining 80% sell local-to-local: all those goods and services that people buy.
Developments respond to economic growth. Settlements create economic growth. During establishment, the MarketTown makes its economic foundation a paramount concern. It focuses on attracting head-of-household jobs, not selling homes or offices. Because it will become owned by the future citizens, it does not extract its net profits for external investors, but retains hundreds of millions of dollars to be reinvested in the long-term economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of the community. It uses those funds to invest in the private SME businesses and on a longer term investment, to fund next generation MarketTowns.
Imagine creating the most wonderful place in the world to live. What would it look like, feel like, how would it work? The MarketTown invests in the infrastructure of conviviality, citizenship and artistic, intellectual & spiritual growth. It empowers the future villagers to make decisions as to what that means for them (convivial example: affordable cafes serving flavourful, nutritious food).
As a complete community, it provides for its young and old, its weak and infirm, and for all walks of life, not solely an elite or comfortable class. It does this through initial capital investment and ongoing funding generated by its initial retained earnings. It asks far less of government, with a low tolerance for crime, a target of zero unemployment and no poverty among the willing.
A Call to Action
The timing is right. Every day the challenges facing Auckland and New Zealand are mounting. Central government has cut through the red tape for approvals. The predictions of grid-lock are no longer predictions - they are day-to-day reality. If we open up more land for homes, those new home owners have to drive. This is a failed 20th Century American growth model, and it is creating all sorts of additional challenges, not just congestion. We need a Plan B, and MarketTowns is such a plan. It is ready to implement. What it requires is decision-makers and key influencers to understand it, endorse it, and let the private sector forces do it.