Wellness, culture and the city
The topic of wellness is often discussed in terms of individual health and well being; and the current Covid-19 situation has increased our attention to this. In addition, employers are increasingly becoming aware that they share some responsibility for their employees mental health, as well as physical health. Whilst some positive steps have been made, there are as many examples of ‘wellness-washing’/ ‘care-washing’ where employers make ineffective but widely publicised gestures of ‘care’.
Moving up the scales, we can also recognise that the way that our cities are organised also has a structuring role in our opportunity to be ‘well’. Clearly, traditional concerns such as access to quality housing and jobs is an important aspect; however, our dependencies on transport that can lead to physical or cost related isolation, or simply ‘co-ordination’ challenges (its difficult to meet people). Perhaps it is not at the forefront of out thoughts at present with the prospect of lockdown and our worlds being reduced to our homes and immediate neighbourhoods, but the availability and access to culture in the broadest sense is also critical. If you define culture more widely that includes access to bars, pubs, meeting places, cinemas, theatres, parks and gardens. In this sense we are hypersensitive to our local environments at present.
Andy Pratt has long been interested in these issues. Twenty years ago he wrote on book on the ‘secret life of cities’ which is about the everyday life of the city; more recently he wrote a key report for the UK government on the Future of Cities; his report was on the relationship of Culture and Cities. Foresight reports are used in any future planning of social, cultural and economic development. Andy’s report looked back over 50 years, and forward 50 years in a scenario exercise to understand the significant trends.
Andy has just written an book chapter on wellness, culture and the city that draws upon the foresight report, and it is published today in the edited collection. ‘Designing Future Cities for Well Being’ (edited by Boyko, Cooper and Dunn). Andy’s chapter is ‘Making space for culture and well-being in the city‘ (pp171-182)
Pratt, A. C. 2020. “Making Space for Culture and Well-Being in the City.” P. 171-182 in Designing future cities for well-being, edited by C. Boyko and R. Cooper. London: Routledge.