“We are by nature aesthetic animals. We exist to appreciate beauty, to create beauty, and to be beautiful. That is all the world asks of us. Nothing more is required.” (From the book.)
Benjamin Sells’s premise is straight-forward—beauty is a civic necessity. Beauty inspires and sustains community and is essential to politics and governing. Beauty gives rise to love, and without love, there would be no community, no society, and no culture. It is the binding and ordering powers of beauty that draw humans together to achieve things that they could never achieve as individuals. And so, in the beating heart of every village, town, and city lies the foundational presence of beauty. This book tells the story of how as village president of Riverside, Illinois, a small suburb just west of Chicago designed by the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1869, Sells attempted to put the idea of beauty as a civic necessity into practice. To tell this story, Sells looks at beauty in relation to politics, ethics, and nature. These ideas lie at the beginning of our Western minds and are inextricably bound together.
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