~ the culture of choice

citynessHot specialities by contemporary British realist painter Nathan Walsh. Yes, that’s a painting indeed.

There is no term that fathoms the pleasantness of urban density. As a city can be defined as a fixed place where people come together to benefit from each other’s presence within an urban environment, a general term that refers to this is urbanity. However, this term also means suavity, courteousness, and refinement of manner which is not really the idea we’d like to capture here.

For this dictionary, cityness is the all-encompassing term for a pleasant gathering of many densities. The idea of cityness is to grasp the density of choices of housing, shops, friends, hobbies, jobs, cultures, restaurants, education, networks and other opportunities.

Cityness can be expressed by skyscrapers, grand architecture, urban bustle, verticality, extremities, and above all, choices. This song sums it up quite nicely.

Cityness is about the idea of being able to develop and experiment with every interest and potential you might have, especially the very niche ones. It is as much about having the choice as it is about making it. It is about quantity of choice, but also, and maybe more so, about quality of choice. Large cities don’t neccesarity offer more cityness than smaller ones.

I’ll probably never take up Knitting 101 at the nearby Arts & Crafts Center, but what matters is that I could if I wanted to. It’s nice to have a shopping mall will many national chain stores, but those that sell used books, design furniture and proper whiskies are the ones that matter. Or at least to me they do, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Sociologist Saskia Sassen had a stab at defining cityness (read here) but in the context as described above the term hasn’t been discussed much, let alone defined.