Town planning. Interest-led, open-minded education. Preservation of buildings with historical worth. Community gardens. All are so central to modern society that our age tends to claim these notions as its own. In fact they were first visualised by Sir Patrick Geddes, a largely forgotten Victorian Scot and one of the greatest forward thinkers in history. In turns a gardener, biologist, conservationist, social evolutionist, peace warrior, and town planner, he spent many years conserving and restoring Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile at a time when most decaying buildings were simply torn down. With these plans of renovation came the importance of education as the development of the Outlook Tower, his numerous summer schools and his College des Ecossais in Montpellier illustrate. It is in India where his name is most widely known. It was here that possibly the greatest example of Geddes' belief in people planning can be seen and which took the form of pedestrian zones, student accommodation for women, and urban diversification projects. When grandiose schemes of urban renewal were in vogue his conservative surgery offered a humane alternative.
His influence spread around the world, through the people he met and stimulated, and has survived, after his death. In recent years he has become almost a patron saint of the sustainable development movement. Think Global, Act Local: The Life and Legacy of Patrick Geddes examines not only the life of this important man, but also the enduring relevance of his ideas and their place in our world, present and future.