Iconic urbanist Lewis Mumford stressed the role of a well-constructed city in the development of the good life, championing pedestrian-scaled, sustainable cities. In Portland's Good Life, R. Bruce Stephenson examines how Portland, the one city in America that adopted Mumford’s vision, became a model city for living the good life. Stephenson traces Portland’s success to its grass roots governing system, its housing and climate protection initiatives, and most of all, its citizens devoted to the public good; all of which have resulted in the construction of a city that honors the humanity of its people.
R. Bruce Stephenson is a consultant and environmental studies professor at Rollins College.
Introduction: The Good Life: Utopian Hope for a Dystopian Time
Chapter 1: Place
Chapter 2: History
Chapter 3: Renaissance
Chapter 4: Mobility
Chapter 5: Nature
Chapter 6: Housing
Chapter 7: Social Capital
Chapter 8: Lessons
In this marvelous book, both study and story, Bruce Stephenson takes us to two cities that are somewhat opposites, yet each in its own way offers lessons for smart living. Drawing on his intimate relationship with them, he points insightfully toward a new age of thoughtful urbanism that could be—should be—our future.
Bruce Stephenson steps us into the good life in this remarkable, plausible portrait of America’s most climate-change aware city. He makes a convincing case that Portland is the city to emulate—full of private citizens devoted to the public good, making daily demonstrations of the blessings of city life. This is an essential message to hear in a society consumed by pandemic fears and false claims about urban decline.
Bruce Stephenson’s book is a broadly conceived and mature work by a thoughtful observer of urban life about how we can create more sustainable cities. But more than that, it is a love letter to livable places and a plea for better communities. Most importantly, Stephenson encourages us to love our fellow citizens and aspire to Aristotle’s ‘good life’ vs. the modern, commercial ‘goods life’—an urgent message in a time of uncertainty for our cities and our planet.
Winter 2021 - Author Bruce Stephenson penned an article about his book for the Winter 2021 issue of Planning Magazine. Link: https://www.planning.org/planning/2021/winter/intersections-viewpoint/