Hazel realized wearily that Bigwig was probably going to be troublesome. He was certainly no coward, but he was likely to remain steady only as long as he could see his way clear and be sure of what to do. To him, perplexity was worse than danger; and when he was perplexed, he usually grew angry.
~ Watership Down, Richard Adams
The exchange that takes place in a city revolves around three elements – self, other and place – at any scale. Just as I need to have a sense of my purpose, so too does my city. As I work toward my purpose, I am in relationship with others and the places around me. Place is the habitat I find myself in, and that too is at scale. It is the office I work in, my home, my block and neighbourhood and city, as well as my country and my planet. At every turn, there is an exchange that takes place between me, others and place.
In a simple statement, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach articulates a pithy question that leads to purpose and destination. This is a question that can be put to me and my city with equal import. Richard Adams articulates the struggle of the human condition when we are unsure of what to do, and the emotional charge embedded in uncertainty. Cities are no different – when we lack a sense of purpose to our cities, we certainly feel the emotional charges. It shows up in our exchanges in others, and the quality of the habitats we build for ourselves.