The Department of Civic Images: Nature, Technology, and Urbanism
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The modern city is the cradle of human activity, and through it humankind has both the ability to strip the planet of life and the ability to create thriving social and ecological systems. Strategic and interactive urbanisms that nurture multifarious ways of being in the world need to be formulated to save the natural world from ecological disaster. This paper traces the genealogy of the city from the unexplored wilderness to the to the conflux of technology and nature on city streets. Following the work of Neil Smith and William Cronon, this paper finds the roots of the urban system in the social construction of nature. Considering Martin Heidegger’s thoughts on technology along with David Harvey’s analysis of the urban system, it argues that city-building is a technē, an art which allows humankind to be at home with the world. As a part of this project, an interactive web application for gathering images and stories about urban spaces was created to provide a tool for citizen urbanism. The application, The Department of Civic Images, engages people in a dialogical urbanism that encourages citizens to see their environment as an intricate and valuable life network.