The Quietness of the Street

Kruf, J.P. (2018) The Quietness of the Street.

Every city has its places, where the quietness of the street opens the story. Here you almost can hear the whispering of those who lived here centuries ago and the breath of an empire. This colourful and straight palette is fully packed with information and reminds us of the rich history of one of the oldest cities in Europe, Cadíz. Sherlock knows that this city was and is strictly managed in many ways. You can feel it. It is a form of art, that of city management. A beauty.

Freedom

Kruf, J.P. (2019) Freedom.

Freedom is one of the highest personal values. Thinking of society – with all free people – as a mosaic as large as a chess board. Imagine the colours of thought or belief (Pantone Quiet Gray), of physical movement in sport, dance, travel and leisure (Pantone Leather Brown) and of expression in art and culture (Pantone Pastel Yellow) together. A palette with just the core indicators of true freedom. No blue (government and police) and no violet (politics) on the horizon. Free! Browsing the many pictures in the newspapers during the last weeks – you know which I mean – I became aware that it’s all about ‘freedom’. A small personal palette of personal values.

New Insights

Kruf, J.P. (2015) New Insights.

During and directly after a crisis, one may come with new insights. Change can come from the interior need for a new organisation and maybe a more practical approach. Or it can come from an exterior perspective to have a better view on the outside world. In the old town of Lucca, Italy, we walked along this piece of art.

Anno 2020, after and during the Covid-19, the need for change is obvious, in public, civic and business organisations. This is driven by internal incentives, related to:

  • Business continuity (for all products and services to citizen and clients).
  • Human resource management (towards a more vital, agile and flexible organisation, new roles or functions are needed).
  • Finance (finding new resilience and balance, tax and budget rescheduling, control priorities).
  • Information management (secure the new cyber world with home and on distance protocols).
  • Procurement (recheck suppliers and contracts in effectivity and continuity).
  • Cooperation (the need for co-creation and for new value driven alliances).
  • Strategy and policy (from ‘be better prepared’, ex post and risk approach towards a more ex ante, resilience, value and scenario driven way of thinking and acting).
  • Leadership and the C-suite (from delegation and top-down styles to true ownership of value and risk approaches, stewardship and serving styles focused on delivery).
  • Interface politics, elected council, governing council and management (from segmentation and fragmentation towards a more holistic approach of matters concerning citizens, groups and social issues).

Lucca has this beautiful house where new insights, reorientation and rebuilding actually meet perfectly. It is metaphor for resilience management. The house of public governance is expected to follow the owners of this house.

Rainy Day Perspective

Kruf J.P. (2019) Rainy Day Perspective.

Today was a rainy day, finally. I look out my window and see the city lights in the far distance, through the palette of raindrops, while reading some articles about the latest financial developments due to Covid-19. Well an interesting view on the threshold of the near future, of tomorrow.

The predictions, to be frank, are worrisome for the coming years and more difficult after 2 years from know. I know government can – in times of and in the modus of a crisis – print the money very easily or borrow it relatively cheap. It can spend budgets to all individuals, communities, civic organisations and companies which are in (desperate) need of support. We know all these spendings will have to be refunded and paid back by citizens, companies and lower governments. It is unavoidable to find the balance again. The awareness under public leaders, city managers, CFO’s and concern controllers is growing – “Houston, we have a problem” – , because municipality cash registers are deflating rapidly.

Where a romantic late evening view with a good glass of wine can cross the thoughts on a new financial strategy for local government, the city and the village. Same picture, two perspectives: home sweet home and the need for a sparkling and financial solid public governance. For now, cheers! Next Monday of course back to the design table with my colleagues.

George Floyd and social corrosion

Kruf, J.P. (2016) Corrosion.

Well, I thought this could be the first of a set of coaching cards for public and political leaders to diagnose what is going on in society – the death of George Floyd emerges as a pars pro toto for a large scale form of racism, and which can be considered as a form of social corrosion – this to be fully aware, share perspectives and return to stewardship. It links him to the individual policeman, to his team and boss, to the police as corporate institution, to their managers, to their governors, to the president, to the system and to ourselves. Pars pro toto can not be better explained.

It is a personal association with how life in cities is dominated by demonstrations of people who ask for love, equality and justice. The city is alive and speaks loud and clear. Leaders are brought in reflection and confrontations what they actually are leading. Their leadership is at stake and when this happens a new mechanism starts working. Jimmy Carter touches the essence on this: “We need a government as good as its people.”

Article on jackkruf.nl.

City Camouflage

City Camouflage © Q Dock.

Jack P. Kruf

This palette of colour and construction finds its base in the combination of city regulation, the use of different materials, the progressive insights in and possibilities for the creation of new infrastructure to ease interior lifestyle as well as of the personal colour touch of the owner of this house in the centre of the City of Verona. It is a form of city camouflage, at least a very nice try. The image is fully packed with information.

King’s Day

King’s Day © Q Dock.

Today the colour palette of every city in The Netherlands is Nassau Orange and Blue. It is King’s Day. King and Queen enter the snow white fields of the living world of society. They thank all special citizens who kept us running and contributed to the fibres of communities so well. The King honours them for their service with the medal of Order of Orange-Nassau. Today is also Corona lockdown day. A double layer here, but with mixed feelings for all of us.

The fractured metropolis

Cover book by Jonathan Barnett

Jack P. Kruf

Improving the new city, restoring the old city, reshaping the region.

Book by Jonathan Barnett

Designing cities is not that easy, especially when it is the goal to keep it working as a cohesive whole. The city as an ecosystem with one functioning society, happy citizens and a perfect governmental stewardship, it would be great. But it is a dream scenario, and actually a not existing one. Jonathan Barnett – emeritus Professor of Practice in City and Regional Planning, and former director of the Urban Design Program, at the University of Pennsylvania – describes how political fragmentation has lead to the emerging of the image of the city as a fractured organism.

This book is an in-depth look into the fibres of the city, leading to a thorough understanding of the city as living organism. Rich, sometimes painful. The best thing about Barnett is, that he above all is honest, that he gives us a crystal clear analysis of historical paths and above all enriches our hopes with guidelines how to restore and work from here. It is must read for every public leader and city manager.

Targeted at architects, students, urban designers and planners, landscape architects, and city and regional officials, The Fractured Metropolis provides a thorough analysis of not only cities but also the entire metropolitan region, considering how both are intrinsically linked and influence one other.  Jonathan Barnett, an urban designer and architect who has worked for cities throughout the United States, teaches architecture and urban design at City College.

American cities are splitting apart. Traditional downtowns still have their ring of old urban neighborhoods, but nearby suburban villages and rural counties have been transformed into a new kind of city, where residential subdivisions extend for miles and shopping malls and office parks are strung out in long corridors of commercial development…. The old city is fighting for its life: its tax base is in danger; its schools are in trouble; its streets are unsafe. Although the development boom of the 1980s has subsided, the new city is still prosperous and peaceful, except where its sprawling growth has enveloped older communities with problems of their own.

Jonathan Barnett

“I think this book is an outstanding original interpretation of urban political and social fragmentation. The argument is elegantly expressed and tailored to its place in existing theory with exceptional clarity and skill. The field of urban politics has frequently been characterized as lacking coherent political and social theory, except perhaps, for that contributed by economists. This book runs squarely in the other direction giving considerable form to an explicit information processing theory of mass behavior in which fundamental political institutional arrangements, such as political boundaries, play not just a role, but are decisive in explaining commonly observed patterns in racial distributions. Seldom have undeniably political factors been assigned such a central role in explaining widespread social phenomena.”

Carol W. Kohfeld, University of Missouri, St. Louis

“In his latest book Jonathan Barnett explores the new realities and opportunities for the design of the metropolitan region. Architect, teacher, and urban designer, Barnett cites specific examples from around the country demonstrating how bypassed areas in the old city can become real estate opportunities, how new types of zoning can facilitate development at metropolitan edges without destroying the landscape, and how metropolitan planning can repair our environment and communities. The book describes ways to write effective urban and suburban planning guidelines; methods for making highways and transportation systems further overall planning goals; designs that make conservation areas and public places create more value for development; techniques for promoting successful historic districts; and much more, including the basic elements of city design and a national agenda for action. There are 152 plans, diagrams, and photographs integrated with the text.”

Jacket

“The accomplished urban designer Jonathan Barnett devotes his latest book to exploring ways of ameliorating the split between the ‘old city’, which used to be the center of things, and the ‘new city’ on the metropolitan periphery. Barnett discusses an impressively broad variety of recent plans and designs for controlling sprawl, improving urban centers and edge cities, and fitting new buildings in with old. One of the best available overviews of how urban and metropolitan design issues are currently being dealt with.”

Progressive Architecture

“Because Jonathan Barnett is a gifted practitioner, an experienced and knowing urban designer, as well a distinguished teacher and author his books on urban design and history, theory and practice are extraordinarily useful for both lay persons and professional readers.” 

Journal of the American Planning Association

Bibliography 

Barnett, Jonathan (1995) Fractured metropolis. 1st ed. New York: IconEds., HarperCollins.

City Resilience and 1-17-169?

1 city, 17 goals, 169 targets.

Jack P. Kruf

The world – in thinking in terms of resilience and considering society as a social-ecological system, is at drift. At least for public leaders and their civil servants it is the new buzzword. Resilience is in discovery and the status of exploration now. Resilience in itself is a deep and fundamental concept. It exists as mechanism long before mankind populated the earth. But for the most of us now it is a completely new concept. Maybe it is a psychological reaction, a gut-feeling, that back to basics is key and the search for arguments to improve present public governance is something elementary. There is something elementary about resilience, isn’t it?

Maybe it is wise to consider – to not start all over again and come in the sandbox of what resilience is and what it is not – to bring it close to the existing frame of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). This is actually about resilience. The first principles for these were defined in the 1987 Brundtland Report Our Common Future, developed from there via the Millennium Development Goals (Battersby et al., 2017) and agreed as a set of goals (17) and targets (169) for 2030.

Agreed though is very relative, because every city today is allowed to take his own route, with its own defined scenario pace and policy planning, with own personal perspectives of its public and business leaders. Every city is in principal free to act, without legislation, without obligation, without formal contract or agreement, without consequences, without accountability, without defined responsibilities related to final leadership.

The resilience as the total sum of feed-back mechanisms may potentially be embedded in the present social-ecological system of society, but the fact that all the SDG goals and targets in their actual status are structurally way out of balance (personal formulation, based on United Nations, 2019), showing significant deviations from the desired equilibrium, i.e. the optimum public value, suggests that it is not functioning as assumed.

Today’s society seem to be in a lower ecosystem status than we have declared ourselves as the ‘Belle Epoque’. It seems for many of us a far away over the mystic horizon picture, a dream scenario, a fata morgana. Nice but unreachable. We know (and see on the daily news) that we are not resilient – let us be honest – to tackle daily declines to lesser states of the ecosystem city and not be able to prevent, in some societies, to fall back to even the zero-state. Of course we may dream about, put hope in and give all our optimism (‘a moral duty’, Kant (1795)) in resilience. But the facts speak otherwise. The ‘ability to bounce back’ is relative or even absent.

Resilience is a nice word, suitable for politicians, policy makers and dreamers of far horizons. For those who have no food, no water, no freedom, for those who live in fear, in poverty or are completely lost in a war, it is an empty word. Less than that. It is a hole, in their heart. A missing link.

Jack P. Kruf

The SDG’s are best defined in my view as a call for implementing collective ‘clear conscience’ for our children and grandchildren It is intentional, a frame for good governance, a manifest for respect and a caring-for-the-earth-attitude and for true stewardship. Noble and pure. It is styled, but also highly segmented. How can 1 city manage 17 goals and 169 targets with governmental councils that have an average of 27 political responsibilities and with a constantly shifting accountability city landscape?

The network of cities do cooperate in all kind of ways. Necessary to come to results. No city can do this on its own. This have lead to a rich palette of excellent and above all inspiring initiatives and projects. But, there is one big but, the political landscape of cooperation in the city network of total 195 countries – with on average of 4 years between elections – changes every week. With the election frequency per country, state or province taken into account, this means that the overall landscape of cooperations changes every day!

Well, who will receive the Nobel Prize for Public Governance in 2030 to link 1 to 17 to 169 into one coherent approach? Since March 2020 there is the dashboard launched by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) for following the SDG’s with 232 indicators. That is a lot. It will be necessary to more and more play the holistic card. How? Interesting!

Bibliography

Battersby, J. (2017) MDGs to SDGs – new goals, same gaps: the continued absence of urban food security in the post-2015 global development agenda. African Geographical Review, 13(1), 115-129.

Kant, Immanuel (1795, republished 2003) Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch. Cambridge: Hackett Publishing.

The Brundtland Report: World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) (1987) Our common future. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

United Nations General Assembly (2015) Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A/RES/70/1.

United Nations (2019) The Sustainable Development Goals Report. New York: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Siena DNA

Kruf, Jack P. (2006) Siena DNA [print on fine art paper]. Breda: Governance Connect, Q-Dock.

Jack P. Kruf

The striking light in one of the streets of Siena, makes the DNA of this city visible. This palette of grey, beige and taupe colours and the fibres of the wall is a small piece of art in itself. This photo I took in 2006 near Piazza del Campo, in the city center. It has so many details that you almost can read how the city is governed and managed, what its rules and regulations are and even how the urban policy plans guide the city infrastructure. Sherlock Holmes doubtlessly is able to complete the whole story.

This photo tells the story of the holistic principle on which every ecosystem has been built. The street tells the story of the city and its governance. It is an exponent of it. A quote by one of the greatest ecologists John Muir (Gilford, 2006) makes us understand the principle of holism – the idea that the whole of something must be considered in order to understand its different parts (Oxford) – in just one simple sentence:

When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

John Muir

Siena is maybe the city where public governance was invented. In fact, it can be considered as the Mecca for city managers, mayors and aldermen. History has been written in the painting in the Town Hall of the City of Siena (at that time it was a republic by the way). It is The Allegory of Good and Bad Government, a series of three fresco panels painted in the Sala Dei Nove by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in 1338/1339. A glimpse of both is visible in this simple and shaded street view.

Lorenzetti, Ambrogio (1338/1339) The Allegory of Good and Bad Government [Fresco). Siena, Sala Dei Nove.

The only way to get to the high level of good government seems to be by coordination, expressed in all forms and tonalities in this beautiful  fresco of Lorenzetti, almost 700 years ago. The importance of coordination – Siena was a very well-run city at that time – is explained very clearly in this video by Charles Fried, professor at Harvard Law School, underlining the holistic principles of city governance.

Bibliography

Gilford, Terry (2006) Reconnecting with John Muir. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 216 pp.

Oxford Learners’ Dictionaries, Holism. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/holism