The goal for any city should be providing the tools for its people to live healthy lives. Being “healthy” does not just mean having access to nutritional food options and being exposed to less pollution. It also means providing people with a cultural identity and purpose, as a way for them to attach themselves to where they are from. But London, the city we have focused on in the last couple of weeks seems to focus more on the superficial projects, like revolutionizing sustainable fashion, and less on physical health of their people.
Sustainable fashion and the preservation of art are just as vital to a city, specifically London, as considering solutions to tackle childhood obesity and air pollution. Focusing on all these topics provides a balanced way of analyzing a city in order for us to make a clear judgment of their core values.
From the last few classes, I have gathered that London values its reputation, fashion-heavy culture and art way more than it values to the health of its people. Obesity and finding “air pollution particles” (“Air Pollution Particles Found Inside Human Brains”) in your brain are non-communicable—meaning that they are health conditions that are non-apparent and unrecognizable unless you dig deeper. The physical health of children or trying to make a city more walkable (“The Walkable City” by Jeff Speck) is not something that people see right away. Therefore, it makes sense why they leave those issues last. This is what is hurting London and other cities like it.
The physical health issues of childhood obesity seem to be set aside, and overwhelmed by the presence of revolutionary fashion and the preservation of edgy art, like Banksy (“How to Sell a Banksy”). These are the edgy and interesting aspects are what attract tourists. These are the things that everyday people are entertained by and are willing to invest in. Growing a dress out of bacteria (“The Next Black”) is cool, but will take way too much time and energy—time and energy that must be focuses on eliminating food deserts present in London and cities like it.
All in all, I am asking for a balance. The people of London must learn how to place importance on everything, rather than the things that are superficial and protect its name. Do more to eliminate the food deserts, especially the ones near grade schools. Do more to promote a more walkable city. Do more to fix the air quality. Health starts within.