Some one billion people in the world live in slums. Access to clean water, electricity, safe housing and fuels is challenging, if not impossible for many slum dwellers. Slums have no doubt been around for as long as people congested into large urban areas. Especially when the industrial revolution swept the globe, and many agriculturally based economies changed to manufacturing and merchandising, slums sprung up in every big city and town. In degraded areas poverty seems insurmountable, crime spreads and those who can afford to do so, move on to literally greener pastures.
Urban planners today, however, have innovative ideas that really just lack human interest, and the even more rare, funding capital. That is why, the best ideas are those which people can realize are really long term investments that pay big dividends.
Lowering crime, eradicating addictions, creating employment and re-vitalizing urban life does occur in many places. These city models should be researched and shared with cities around the world. Places with effective community health centers, for instance, can help provide family planning tools and resources, job training and education.
Revitalization can be done if sustainable development and green jobs are invested in for people to participate in urban renewal. One example is roof top gardens. When people have green places to gather it is a winning proposition for everyone. Growing plants and trees filtrates polluted air, provides muffling quiet, provides CO2 (carbon) sinks, brings people outdoors to add more wary eyes to prevent crime, offers an efficient place to produce healthy food, encourages community efforts, and offers shady habitat for beneficial wildlife, birds and pollinators. Even abandoned lots can bloom into attractive spaces that provide a multitude of benefits.
One big challenge is helping people to reconnect to the natural world. People so often live indoors and dependent upon technological connections,’ they block out the outdoor world, which in slums, is often over crowded, dirty, noisy and hazardous.
But in creating green space, water and air purification aspects and even community gardens, these frequent disadvantages can be ameliorated.
Diversity is often a key to making a community come back to life. Programs that promote diverse cultural traditions, music, art, folk festivals, dance, crafts and fairs can all add flavor and needed attractions that also bring people together.
Places that encourage and provide incentives for sanitation, removal of garbage and sewage, and make attractive areas where people want to be not just for work, but for recreation, socialization and interaction with a community are the basic foundation for helping city dwellers not just want to have community, but to celebrate being part of creating community.
In nature, what makes inter-active systems thrive is the inter-active aspect of mutual symbiosis. When people are impoverished, alienated and hopeless they do nothing to better their circumstances. When they are connected, included, appreciated and needed, they participate in creating live-able home communities.