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How Ring City Informs Civic Liberalism 
If we are to rein in the edge cities and create an urbanism between them and our downtown cores, we must find a way to affect a very large part of our metropolitan landscape. The existing highway system has an impact at the scale of the entire metropolitan region. Ring City, therefore, is an attempt to develop a kind of transformer to reduce the scale of the highway to a level where it can be imbued with enough pedestrian character to foster dense urban growth inside and outside of it. 

Civic Liberalism is also a kind of transformer. It is a plan to create common public experiences for all citizens, regardless of their backgrounds. Though there will always be different neighborhoods, races, income classes, building types, and neighborhood character, an Urban Ring creates the opportunity to have a specific part of Appendx 3 page break 144 | 145the city that is common to all. The decision to pursue a Ring City by way of inserting an Urban Ring requires the will to change the fragmented character of our urban and suburban environment, and add instead a place of dense, shared investment. It requires a plan that will affect all future development in a given city. It requires both political and design commitment. 

Such a zone within our metropolitan areas would allow urban characteristics to blend more without citizens fearing that allowing such interaction would compromise the character of their own neighborhoods. And the political advantage of having a better-defined public realm is enormous. For it is only when people see advantages to communal activities  that they are willing to support them. As we have grown more fragmented as a society, we have also lost our will to support public programs and civic enterprise. We have become hyperindividualists. This lack of a place to experience "the common good" and our unwillingness to support it cannot be unrelated problems. 

Political analyst E.J. Dionne cites the practicality of pursuing civic goals: 

    Talk of citizenship and civic virtue sounds utopian. In fact, it is the essence of practical politics. Only by restoring our sense of common citizenship can we hope to deal with the most profound—and practical—issues before us: How to balance rights and responsibilities; how to create a welfare state that is both compassionate and conducive to the deeply held American values of self-reliance and personal accountability; how to pay for the size of government we want; how to restore dialogue and friendship among the races; how to promote strong families while respecting the rights of those who live outside traditional family structures; how to use government—notably the educational system and the state's proven capacity to promote research and development—to restore America's economic competitiveness.21 
There is a physical and spatial component to such political change. The idea that such "practical" political ideas could transform our cities from their current fragmented condition into denser, more diverse Ring Cities may seem simple, but it is a necessary step if the form and content of our built environment is to be reconciled.
the end George Thrush 

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