Will all our cities have a Taksim Square?
It seems that Istanbul’s Taksim Square has been saved, at least for now, from development. The AJ reports this, along with an eye-witness report on recent developments from one of its team, who happened to be there last weekend. The battle may be over, but the fight goes on, with the park shutting just after opening because of further riots, as Al Jazeera reports.
So was the riot in Taksim Square just a flashpoint for generalised unrest? To an extent, yes. But as Rory Olcayto wrote in the AJ just over a month ago, the park is important for simple health reasons as well. Istanbul has grown incredibly fast, and for it to lose its green space is almost unbearable. If we want to learn this lesson we need look no further than China, where reports today say that air pollution in the north is cutting average lifespans by more than five years.
There is enormous pressure on development around the world. It is worth remembering that open spaces and clean air are not some old-fashioned luxury that we can dispense with in our progressive, money-driven age. Their absence can threaten lives, and governments.