There’s been a recent increase in Facebook pages dedicated to the arts in Belen — Through the Flower, Arte de Belen and the Belen Arts District, to name a few.

This reminded me Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and wondered if this same hierarchy applies to a city.

Maslow postulated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Maslow’s theory, often represented as a pyramid with five levels of need, is a motivational theory in psychology that argues that as people meet basic needs, they seek to meet successively higher needs.

The bottom tier — and most important — are the biological requirements for human survival, e.g. air, food, drink, shelter, clothing and warmth. If these needs are not satisfied, the human body cannot function optimally.

The second tier is safety and security — protection from the elements, security, order, law, stability and freedom from fear.

The third level of human need is about love and belonging. This means feeling that you are a part of a community.

This is followed by self-esteem needs, such as dignity, independence and mastery.

And at the top, once all other needs have been fulfilled is self-actualization — realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, personal growth and peak experiences.

In a nutshell, a person isn’t going to worry about self-actualization if their belly is empty; if they are unprotected from the elements or feel unsafe. Once the basic needs are met, one can indulge in self-actualization, personal growth and reaching for the stars.

Are cities the same way? Are we seeing an increase in the arts in Belen because the city’s first four needs are being met?

Physiological needs in a city are basic infrastructure, land, water, sewer, power, roads, a food source and a tax base.

Safety and security needs: Police and fire services are the most obvious component of this tier, but perception of safety also adds to the picture. This includes jobs, access to jobs, financial security and food security.

Love and belonging: This is about a community’s social, community, and economic institutions — the organizations both formal and informal that connect, nurture and invest in a city’s residents.

Self-Esteem: A city’s self-esteem is often reflected in its sense of place and in the level of investment in itself. Parks and open space, schools, public landmarks, private attractions are all examples of ways in which cities show themselves to the world. Without the ‘love and belonging’ tier in place, these investments can’t work

Self-Actualization: This is a stage where cities can successfully focus on issues, such as the arts and humanities. This is the stage I see our city expanding into. Thanks to the good works on the part of our city’s leaders, the arts, education and entertainment sector is flourishing.

Please visit the Facbook pages for the Belen Art League Gallery and Gifts, Studio 508, Belen Arts District, Through the Flower, Belen Desoto and Arte de Belen. Keep abreast of the art events in our area.

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