SIR PATRICK GEDDES is often described as “the founding father of modern town planning”. He was born in 1854 in Ballater, Scotland, and died in Montpellier in 1932 after a lifetime’s work covering a vast range of activities, interests and passions. For me, he’s one of those pioneers of what we now call sustainable development whose work, sadly, is almost entirely ignored.

I discovered his work by chance, more than ten years ago, when running a course at Schumacher College on the history of green ideas. One star in my galaxy of individuals involved was Lewis Mumford (a great American scholar, sociologist, ...


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