Smaller Cities in a Shrinking World: Learning To Thrive Without Growth

Island Pr. Jun. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781642832273. $35. SOC SCI
City planner/urbanist Mallach (sr. fellow, Center for Community Progress; The Divided City) draws on his professional background to examine shrinking cities and to offer an alternative prescription for a sustainable future. In readable prose, the book clearly outlines the global trends that are affecting receding cities, including population decline, climate change, migration, technological advances, and political instability. The author seeks to inspire the kind of experimentation that can offer shrinking cities a different vision for a post-growth future. He suggests a model of “networked localism,” in which cities would invest their natural, financial, and workforce resources into producing much of the energy, goods, and services they use, while still participating in national and international networks. Mallach offers existing examples of networked localism, such as localized food systems and placemaking to attract and retain residents, and describes the economic, social, and cultural characteristics of these examples; he also addresses barriers to overcome. Although the book frequently cites examples from around the globe, the challenges and applications for shrinking cities in the U.S. receive special focus.
VERDICT Of interest for libraries that cover city planning, landscape architecture, or urban design. This book would also be at home in libraries where readers are curious about economics, geography, political science, or the environment.
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