The Value of a City Miniature Model

How much value can a miniature model of a city have? Why don’t you ask the citizens and officials of San Francisco? They have a roughly 40 feet x 40 feet model of the city from the 1930s that is a buzz in the city today for conversations around the city’s history, present, and democratic urban planning for the future. That’s despite the model having been recently rediscovered and restored, some 80 years after it was built and 70 years after it had been put away? But if you can’t talk to the San Franciscans, or the right ones, have a listen to the 99% Invisible podcast below and hear for yourself!

Every city needs a decent city model, it would seem to me. There seems to be something about seeing the entirety of something in front of our eyes that changes our minds and feelings about it. Think about the Blue Marble photo of planet Earth taken over 50 years ago. It still inspires many. But so few cities have such a model, probably for the worse, and that’s too bad.

My Halifax Regional Municipality Budget 2018, with Explanations, from its Budget Allocator

Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) did an innovative and democratic thing this year to have an interactive online Budget Allocator to let people try their hands at creating a municipality budget for the area, and submit it for City Council’s consideration. How much consideration each, or all the submissions might get, is another story, but I won’t be cynical here. I want to share my example of a cohesive budget that’s more than just the numbers, with rationale behind the choices, although the numbers are critical to make things work, of course. We’ll see when HRM presents its final budget, if it will do something similar to explain its choices in a way understandable to the general public.

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