The new suburb

There are a lot of new developments in Copenhagen these days. An entire new suburb is being built by the water near where I live. It’s going to have its own metro stop and a new postcode. 

Tens of buildings are coming up at the same time, they all look different from one another. There are grey ones and red ones, modernist townhouses and tall blocks. A cylinder building has been wrapped around an old silo. In the middle of what looks like a square, a four storey parking stands proud like a church. It even has frescos. It is if each developer has been given some lego blocks, just different bags. Walking around feels like browsing through a science exhibition. 

There is something unique about the early days in a new suburb. Offices are occupied by real estate agents. Shops are showrooms where new home owners eagerly browse through tiles, lamps and wooden floors. Can you make your place unique by arranging them in a different way? Finished building stand side by side with construction grounds. An old lady’s neighbour is a crane. A little girl’s bedroom looks into a row of of containers where workers change and drink coffee. Only in the new suburb you can chose between an indoor toilet and an out door one.

Sometimes I go walk around in the new suburb. I want to see how life is born. The first person I come across is a young father trying to put his baby to sleep. Maybe she is the first native of that reclaimed land. A runner comes by, a couple is looking around, how would it feel to live there?

The day is ending, construction workers pack their stuff and are ready to leave. For months they have owned the place, but their rough jokes don’t belong there, the new suburb is going to be a fancy one. The first settlers are back from work and are busy trying to put life in their brand new apartments. Spices and flowers ornate the balconies from where they enjoy the sea view through the unfinished building in front. Today the sea, tomorrow another family watching tv. 

Time feels suspended in the new suburb. Will all building be finished in the future or were they finished in the past? Maybe it is not a new suburb. Maybe a hurricane took them away.  

Ideology for the future

A new society can be brought about only if a profound change occurs in the human heart.

These words from Eric Fromm’s “To have to to be?” encapsulate what I have been thinking for a while.

The more I look into the future, how we will overcome the challenges of this revolution, the more I go back to a single thought: rationality alone will not save us.

By “rationality” I mean the belief that everything can be explained through facts, through laws of supply and demand, through statistics and economic incentives.

As we debate the rise of ideological movements shaking the foundations of our society, it appears clearly that we lack an alternative ideology. We have taken for granted that material progress was everything we needed. It only takes a sputtering engine to throw us off balance.

I am not talking about nostalgia. Leave all illusions about resetting the clock. We need an ideology for the future.

P.S. Two book I recommend about this:

- E.F. Schumacher, A guide for the perplexed

- E. Fromm, To have or to be?