An article in The Atlantic suggests that cities aren’t only greener, but that physical proximity to others promotes intellectual and economic growth.
There are other models that might help us unravel this, especially those that explain the dynamics of networks. In particular, there is a phenomenon in economics that’s known as a “Knowledge Spillover.” It is one of the reasons that cities are such powerful economic engines. Within a city, if you are making x, and I am making y, then our combined knowledge might allow us to make z together, but only if we are physically close enough that our knowledge can spill over from one sort of enterprise to another.
In practice, many such spillovers gradually connect and reinforce each other, creating a kind of virtuous circle of economic activity, and whole new industries. (Think of the automotive industry centered in Detroit, or the personal computer industry centered around Palo Alto.) This pattern is a classic kind of “network,” familiar to those who work with metabolic processes in biology.
Cities can certainly have a contagious energy in the same way that an office can buzz with enthusiasm. Suburbia, by contrast, can seem sleepy – which is in part why a lot of us choose to live there.
What do you guys think? Could we all benefit from a little more urbanist proximity in our lives?