A Vision for the City

The Jeremiah Paradigm for the City

Our Cities — Our Nations

Our cities are not what they were 50 years ago, 25 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Our cities are multiethnic, multicultural, and increasingly multilingual. They are increasingly divided between the “haves” and “have-nots” and between people of color and white.

While Marshall McLuhan spoke of a “global village” to highlight the critical communication and interdependency of contemporary life, we need to further qualify it to read an “urban global village.” The apparent contradiction of urban/ village underscores the reality of the global process of people/ethnic movements from village to major urban centers. This worldwide phenomenon is also, given our immigration patterns, the experience of cities in the United States. Be it Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, or Los Angeles, each is undergoing this globalization process: a multiethnic and multicultural reality increasingly defining its ethos.

Ben Wattenberg, the author and demographer, speaks of our cities and our nation as experiencing “the dawning of the first universal nation.” The notion of the United States as a “universal nation” is not new since historically the great American experiment has represented this very aspiration. It is important to note that this internal development is consistent with the external “global mission” of America found in its cultural narratives — stories that shape American images of self and world.1