I hope that everyone will watch this short, excellent presentation on the promise of sustainable cities from Alex Steffen, proprietor of the late, lamented Worldchanging and all-around smart dude. If it sounds reminiscent of my great places series, it’s only because I stole most of that from Alex. Watch:

U.S. national politics is extraordinarily depressing right now. My refuge right now is keeping in mind the lede of this recent Foreign Policy feature story:

The 21st century will not be dominated by America or China, Brazil or India, but by the city. In an age that appears increasingly unmanageable, cities rather than states are becoming the islands of governance on which the future world order will be built.

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If we want to accommodate 10 billion people on this planet and provide them all with some measure of security and dignity, we have to master cities. That is, or should be, a central axiom of 21st century politics, economics, environmentalism, and humanism.