I recently learned that in 2008, the people of Earth hit a new milestone: we became ‘majority urban’. Over half of us now live in cities. Tanzania, where I live, will be majority urban within the next 10-15 years, and being a university minister invests me in that emerging reality. Australia, where I’m from, is overwhelmingly urbanised, with most Australians living in one of 15 coastal cities.
Flourishing and promise, alienation and struggle: it’s all there in the city, and in the story we tell about the city. In this new series, City Wonder, I’ve made a collection of visual meditations on the city. There are 28 instalments, posting each Monday.
The city is both an idea and a place. Sometimes it seems like a habitat, a natural home for humanity, but other times like a habitation, a place we construct for ourselves. The city is where we might appear to be most in control of our surrounds, but also where we might seem most at odds with the planet. The Austrian artist Hundertwasser saw the city as a place diabolically oppressed by straight lines, but also a place of relationship, a place redeemable for friendship.
We shall learn earthliness, and serve its ends,
to feel its hands about us like a friend’s.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Each of the ‘City Wonder’ images provides a window into a realm or mindframe; an invitation to an ethos or concept; a meditation on histories and futures, heaven and Earth. There are many themes to consider: creativity, ecology, decay and renewal. The first image is just below. What do you make of it? Where does it take you? (Click through to view the large version.)
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.