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Welcome - my name is Kevin Klinkenberg, and this site "The Messy City" is my blog and company website. I started blogging on urban planning and design issues in 2007, and began working in the field in 1993. Please feel free to connect with me on any of the social media sites listed here. Thanks for reading.

Independence Day

Independence Day


“When in the course of human events…” 236 years ago, a remarkable document was authored that set the stage for the creation of the United States of America. Since then, wars, economics and social change every couple of generations seems to chart a new course, or at least an altered course, for the country.  Whether it’s the War of 1812, Civil War, Reconstruction, WWI, Depression/WWII, the 60’s, etc., they happen with an interesting regularity. Now seems to be one of those times as well.

Instead of embracing this, we seem to be hell-bent on doubling down on what each of us thought was the “right” way before the current economic collapse.  Is this the deep denial that happens before the acceptance of some fundamental realization?

It’s so easy for us to become slaves to our own minds, our own thoughts and beliefs.

In that regard, I’ll share one of my deep-seated beliefs: one of the biggest flaws and dangers of humanity is fundamentalism.  Fundamentalism by nature eliminates critical thinking, as it seeks to see the world through one particular prism, and rationalize everything we see/hear to fit that prism or worldview. So, whether that prism is political, religious, professional, philosophical, etc – fundamentalism can affect any of us.

In the world of urban planning, we have fundamentalist New Urbanists, for example. It’s clear to me that those zealots who practice fundamentalist NU are just as problematic as the apologists for suburban sprawl.

Life is just more complex than simple slogans, no matter how appealing they may be.

So, on this Independence Day, I suggest it’s a good time for us to declare our own independence. Here’s a list of things to get us started:

From beliefs of our own “tribes” – our friends, colleagues and families

From political party ideology

From our cars

From fossil fuels, especially in far-away countries

From old ideas that don’t work anymore

From the notion that we are the best at everything

From the notion that we can’t do anything right

From long-established myths

From the beliefs that hold us back

And importantly,

From the aliens!


What are you declaring your independence from?

Enjoy the holiday.


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