OK so this post has nothing to do with the history of Germany. The picture above was the only one I could find of a book, an excellent one by the way, written by the son of Thomas Mann, Golo, who was also gay. This post is about my own endeavors to write. Since I started working in government more than ten years ago I have been honing an idea for a book about my main area of interest in life, the planning and delivery of public infrastructure. My work experience at both provincial and municipal levels of governments has confirmed to me again and again that the context that infrastructure is considered from a public policy perspective is too narrow, too economic; it follows trends instead of trying to lead them. So many amazing things have been written, especially in the field of sociology about the influence of built form, from Georg Simmel’s metropolis to Jane Jacobs “highway men” and more recent work by European writers such as Michel de Certeau and John Urry. My aim is to distill some of these ideas for a broader audience and stimulate debate among the public, public technocrats, and in the halls of power. Around $50 billion a year is spent on public infrastructure each year in Canada. Isn’t it important that we ask what this is for – is it building the society we want, or entrenching the socially alienating, globally warming society we have?
Anyhoo, it’s a big topic. But one I am passionate about (as I think are many others). It’s not unique – many people are writing about urban infrastrastructure these days – but I think the perspective I bring, having worked as a “technocrat” for a variety of organizations will add something. Beyond the pitch, there is the usual existential angst of whether I am really up to this, writing a book. It takes a lot of work, but also the confidence to sell oneself out there in the world, and that is what I worry about. Can putting my ideas out there in print be a vocation, something I can make a living from? Or it just easier to sit in a cube, write briefing notes, and let the taxpayer take care of my bills? Cynicism aside, any feedback would be appreciated! As noted in earlier posts, I am totally down with giving up the security and trappings of the formal career, just feeling a bit uncertain right now, which is maybe normal given all the changes I am making. One day at a time, I need to remember that. Off to the library!