Places can be magnetic. I felt an immediate and inexplicable affinity for the Netherlands when I first arrived in 1998. Whenever I return, like I have this week, I still feel this connection. The way these lowlands are ordered, and integrate astute design in so many facets, reverberates with me. I initially became immersed in sustainable innovation during my initial 10-month stay here. Unbeknownst to me, the experience would inflect my professional trajectory for the next 20 years. Necessity drives an abiding concern for sustainability issues here. Will we ever develop the same discipline before absolutely needing to? Doing so can fundamentally contribute to greater quality of life, if not also equity. Watching the development around the Loop over the last few years, I’ve been struck by the lack of vision. Mark my words: the short-sighted dearth of common amenities being incorporated into the increasing density is, ironically, creating the conditions for a population shift back to the comparatively humane suburbs. We are creating the conditions for immediate financial gain, not long-term livable communities. The Netherlands continues to inform and shift my perspective. The challenge, of course, remains to figure out what to do with this enlightenment when I return home.
Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.