Back here in Amsterdam here we see a promise of a so-called simpler world where:
- boys walk along with a fish under their armpit
- shopfronts are swept with wicker brooms
- women in headscarfs roll past on bicycles with little ‘ch-chings’, hailing a stripey shirted boy –
- himself with a truncheon of bread under one arm and a felt hat
- tobacco-stained and smiling moustaches with an accordion laugh loudly
- arguments in front of cafes turn out to be only play
- children get into mischief in ever-faster circles around their parents legs, and
- a hollow orange light in upper floors at nighttime denote a warm family dinner, a subtle but beguiling view, and perhaps an evening stroll at sunset to pass by a friend’s.
Place management is what engineers this, anything good and anything bad, and what we get or what we imagine we get is a Sense of Place (as listed) – a term that’s been instantly reserved by the political side that would like nothing more for Xmas than a communal set of tie dyed ugg-boots – but this is a term that’s ever as serious as streetlamps and bins.
And IKEA’s place marketing is what falls out the other end because the sense of place, real or imagined, makes us pay for reminders that our self-development is out there.
And maybe one day, too, we can have a big sticking-out piece of bread and be ‘ch-chinged’ by a beautiful maiden on her bike.
So let’s wind it all up then, shall we?
The question is “Why is the bin there?”
The sub-question, of course, is who’s this invisible ‘they’ I blame so much for affecting your sense of place?
Largely, ‘they’ means local governments, who are markable for the reactions you get within a public place.
You have an interest in this Mr Government, you do, because your city’s competitiveness, the resilience of the economy and the health and interestingness of your community is dependent on it.
There’s a perpetual cycle of participation charged or not-charged by visible and invisible forces within our places, be it a bin in the way of our walking frame, filth in the river or the inability to find a good espresso and a stranger to to share it with.
In regards to this bin, this a 1922 solution for a 1999 problem.
I will be publishing Part 3 of this riveting story tomorrow at 5pm, GMT + 8.
Sign up (top right) to get the final answer to Mr Geoff Cohn’s thunderous question.