In the previous two discussions on the subject of Crime and City Planning, we have established that for the people of a town or city to satisfy their five basic psychological needs they must have, in order of satisfaction, the rudiments of physical survival (food and shelter), a sense of safety and security, the development of community, individual value within their community and the development of their intellectual, emotional and physical potential (self-actualization). We have also suggested that the satisfaction of these needs requires both the physical environment and a range of social institutions.
In other words, we have established that, regardless of any government’s intention, the people of the town or city need elements of the built environment to become whole as both individuals and as a community. Shelter is a feature of the built environment. Initially its importance is so great that its form is unimportant. But once the need is satisfied, its form becomes of the greatest importance in the search for a sense of physical security. It is even more important when trying to develop a sense of community, as questions of physical proximity, separation of functions and the like help or frustrate the development of relationships. (For example, at present, the question of shanty towns, used for the first-level satisfaction of the need for shelter of one segment of the community, has become a major concern for other sectors of the community who have moved to the concern for security.) Again the physical expression of shelter may satisfy a part of the community’s establishment of value within the community. These examples are only offered to show that the neglect of the planning of the built environment stifles the development of both the individuals and the community as a whole. The dis-association fostered by that neglect we today call crime.
So, how does Nassau as a City address these issues?
First of all, it is necessary to establish a clear and public definition of the boundaries of the City of Nassau. It is neither the area of the Old Nassau, from the top of the hill to the water and from Nassau Street to Malcolm Park, as used by government, nor is it the whole island, as indicated in Wikipedia. The boundary is necessary because, as the definition of a town requires, there must first of all be an “inside” the City and an “outside” of the City for the people of the City to begin their work of community development. The arbitrary re-naming of communities by altering political boundaries does not address the organic relationships between the people who in some cases have shared centuries of communal life. Serious efforts to identify existing relationships must lead to the establishment of the boundaries of the City of Nassau.
Secondly, it is imperative that the elements needed for the reinforcement of historical memory, for celebration of the accomplishments of the people of the City, for the sharing of the cultural wealth of the community, for the inspiration of their children and for the encouragement of environmental order become a conscious part of the agenda of governments. This is the primary role of that part of the City called the Downtown. At present, the City of Nassau, by any definition, has no Downtown, and there is no apparent plan to create one. It is the second most urgent need for the development of a sane City.
Thirdly, as an extension of the development of a Downtown, there must be an encouragement of the construction of the training facilities for telling the story of the community. Various types of performers, producers, directors and staging agents must be trained in facilities that signal the importance of the effort to share the community’s story, first within the community itself, then to the outside world. Places for performance, from theatres to concert halls to arenas must be built. Museums that share the stories and artifacts of value to the community must be built, the more, the merrier. Permanent and substantial monuments that celebrate the history and accomplishments of the community must be designed and installed in appropriate locations. Complexes that establish the permanence and sense of order, represented by local government City Hall, Parliament etc. must be built by a post-independence community. The cultural mores of the community must become part of the public art, the architecture, the civic design. The design of the City must encourage the community’s enjoyment of its shared culture in night clubs, restaurants, art galleries, local festivals and the like.
This is the job of the City, a job the City of Nassau is presently not prepared to do. It is ill-defined, lacks order, pays no respect to the history or accomplishment of its people and ignores the need to share their cultural similarities. It is therefore incapable of developing a sense of community or responsible citizenship. As noted above, it is more likely to exhibit dis-association as the people of the City focus more on their differences than their similarities.
The various governments have all labored under the misconception that changes in laws and regulations, the imposition of feel-good social programs and the provision of jobs would create a more responsible and productive community. After 40 years, it should be clear that the development of a City is about relationships, and that that requires years of city planning by people committed to the satisfaction of the real needs of their citizens.