October 18, 2020


Last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald featured the usual gutsy weekly homily by Elizabeth Farrelly. She is the controversial columnist who covers architecture, rural and urban design, and social issues. This week's essay advocates the use of “slower cities” as a brake on diminishing biodiversity and the erosion of human society. She builds her case between two “bookends.” One is David Attenborough’s film, A Life on Our Planet, which portends an “extinction revolution” by those who despair of climate change.

 The other is a book by two geographers, Paul Tranter (UNSW/ADFA) and Rodney Tolley (Staffordshire University). Their Slow Cities extols the benefits of the walking city—social, psychological, medical, and environmental.

Geographers should rejoice not only in such a publication, but the role of geography in public affairs that Dr. Farrelly acknowledges. What a pity that she neglects to identify Tranter and Tolley as geographers. Our shadowy existence is the vexed problem now bothering the American Association of Geographers, which asks whether geography’s current absorption into a “world of interdisciplinary programs” is “encroachment or opportunity?” 

Be that as it may, we should applaud the publicity that Dr. Farrelly provided. We should be equally grateful for Tranter and Tolley’s collaboration. For them, being aligned with Sir David surely deserves two green thumbs

Tranter & Tolley. What a combo! They sound like two of Santa Claus’s reindeer. Bully for them.

Bruce Ryan, Ph.D., FIAG
Emeritus Professor of Geography
University of Cincinnati, USA

5 Minnamurra Street
Kiama, NSW 2533
Ph. 61+2+4233 1525