Skip to content

C200: There Is No One Solution

2011 April 2
by dan bertolet

< Two Union Square, downtown Seattle; photo: Dan Bertolet >

Cities, like their creators, are a wonderful mess. And as with people, the mess of interdependent complexity that makes up a city can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how it is directed and cultivated.

The city’s myriad, interrelated systems require balanced care, or the whole organism withers. For example, in most cities across the United States, the intimately connected systems of land use and transportation have, in a vicious cycle, become malignantly dysfunctional. This imbalance stresses other systems—social, economic, and ecological—eventually dragging down the entire city.

Restoring balance will never happen if we stubbornly resist change. But nor will it be accomplished by obsessing on singular, narrow ideas such as the eradication of cars or density as a cure-all. Achieving a healthy balance in a city takes a holistic approach that recognizes complexity. And that recognition starts with an understanding of the complete spectrum of viewpoints.

One of the goals of Citytank, and the C200 series in particular, is to give exposure to a wide spectrum of ideas for the city. This is not to say that all ideas are equally valid, or that we should avoid criticizing those ideas with which we disagree. But we need to get it all out on the table.

If you’ve got a viewpoint that has been neglected in the Citytank C200 discussion so far, please email your idea to


Dan Bertolet is an urban designer and the founder of Citytank.