Oliver & Kariana Christopherson (2nd & 3rd from left) unveiling the Braille plaque at the Forster Memorial, 24 June 2006 © Friends of the Forster Country.
Oliver wrote: One day in 2006 my wife Kari-Anna and I found ourselves in St Nicholas churchyard (in Stevenage), at the unveiling of a Braille plaque next to the monument to E M Forster: “Only connect”. In this peaceful setting, looking at the monument and out over the Forster Country, I was suddenly aware both of the value of this archetypal piece of Hertfordshire countryside and of its relationship with the towns which surround it - Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth, three towns close to each other geographically yet very different in their history and nature: Stevenage, the first post-war New Town, Hitchin, an old-established market town and Letchworth, the first of Howard’s Garden Cities.
How good it would be, I thought, if these three towns, which between them have the potential to become a great and marvellous city, could be brought together - not physically joined, but sharing a common purpose and identity. So the idea of the ConnectedCity was born.
The obvious model for the ConnectedCity is Ebenezer Howard’s “social city” – a group of new settlements in the countryside organised around a larger central settlement – see diagram. But here we are not trying to create the city from scratch, we are taking a collection of towns and developing and unifying it to form a coherent city. To achieve this, government and people must act together.