user groups

Urbanist Feedback

About a month ago, I handed over an article I had written, titled The Onus of an Urbanist to a colleague of mine. I was seeking feedback on the flow of the piece. "But what exactly is an urbanist?" the colleague asked after reviewing it. The focus of it centered on how urban-based individuals can address & combat climate change in cities by exploring scale and framing. Thinking it a given, the space provided to understand who an urbanist was though, remained brief. I considered his question for a few days and thought of a better way to answer it: by asking self-described urbanists for the definition. 

So I created a survey. Fully acknowledging that there exist urbanist denominations, the aim was for them - us -  to share thoughts on not only the definition of the identity, but also how it is molded through urban life, while discovering our common ground. After combing through a small sample of responses, I realized the mixture of interests and perspectives seem to truly enhance what each urbanist promotes: better solutions for urban problems. Appreciation of the benefits and beauty of urban living. The memorable moments they've experienced in a city. The issues their city is currently facing and what actions they are invested in to create positive outcomes. 

With this feedback, I hope that these urbanists can find ways to link with one another on issues, projects, initiatives and future ideas - and that more urbanists will join in. You can add your voice to the discussion, too - connect on social media, or take the survey.

Cheers, Urbanists. 

"All of Earth is a planned community these days, so I don't think of 'urbanist' as excluding farms, mountains, or oceans. An 'urbanist' is someone who acknowledges that our lives are all connected and that we must make respectful, shared decisions about how our space and resources are used on our block and on our planet. I'm an urbanist because I acknowledge this reality."
Erik Moe, Washington, District of Columbia

"An urbanist deeply feels the interconnectedness of struggles for justice, visions for a more equitable society, and a practice of collective liberation."
Martin Xavi Macias, Chicago, Illinois

"An urbanist is a proponent of healthy cities. I am an urbanist because I am invested in seeing myself contribute to a strong and resilient community."
Magdalena Kaluza, Minneapolis, Minnesota

"My definition is probably unique - my own urbanism is born equally out of a love for walkable, compact cities and a respect for nature. Sprawl has greatly harmed the ecosystems of Georgia. Concern over the loss of land & connectivity in the habitats of native plants and animals fuels my love for compact land use and livable density." 
Darin Givens, Atlanta, Georgia

"A civic activist. I am interested in the phenomena of people in a place. I am inspired and guided by these thoughts: 'True involvement comes when the community and the designers turn the process of planning and building a city into a work of art.' (Edmund N Bacon)"
Franc D'Ambrosio, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

"An urbanist lives in the city, embraces, reflects and participates in the city's culture, and is active in creating a better environment for others."
Jared Hanks, Minneapolis, Minnesota

"Being centrally located."
Marc Ingram, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

"Access to people and culture."
Erik Moe, Washington, District of Columbia

"I love that there are so many different cultures represented in my city. One can meet people from nearly every walk of life. It is also the biggest small town you'll ever live in!" 
Magdalena Kaluza, Minneapolis, Minnesota

""[Being able to do] anything I want, whenever I want. With family, friends, co-workers and /or strangers."
Franc D'Ambrosio, Victoria, British Columbia

"Living wages, the right to heal, leisure, good food; a healthy environment."  
Martin Xavi Macias, Chicago, Illinois

"Good people. Community."
Jared Hanks, Minneapolis, Minnesota

"Transportation options."
Marc Ingram, Minneapolis, Minnesota

"The availability of alternative transportation modes, abundant green spaces and lots of attractions/entertainment - preferably located in mixed-use developments."
Brionte McCorkle, Atlanta, Georgia

"Equal access, shared experience, shared responsibility."
Erik Moe, Washington, District of Columbia

"I worked to expand our Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority into Clayton County. This is the first expansion of the MARTA system since the 1970s, and will restore transit to Clayton County residents who lost access when C-Tran (the local county bus system) shut down in 2010. Essentially, I worked as part of a coalition that informed the residents of the opportunity on the table, actions they could take, and how to put direct pressure on the decision makers to get a referendum on the ballot. We successfully got it on the ballot in July 2014, and in November 2014 nearly 74% of the county voted in favor of joining MARTA. MARTA's expansion is a $1.5 billion dollar investment by Clayton County over the next 35 years; the largest investment in public transit that Georgia has seen in decades."
/ Brionte McCorkle, Atlanta, Georgia 

"In Durham, I've used placemaking events to bridge gaps between various cultures."
/ Wanona Satcher, Durham, North Carolina

"I work for a nonprofit that makes city gardening more accessible; I am on a community advisory committee to contribute to community engagement for a south service area master plan for the park board; I am a performance artist and am an active supporter of the arts."
/ Magdalena Kaluza, Minneapolis, Minnesota

"I try to improve my city by way of volunteer work of various kinds. Atlanta is a city full of untapped potential contrasted with inertia on the part of city leadership; realizing that potential requires vision and work from residents and business owners."
/ Darin Givens, Atlanta, Georgia 

"[By] reducing the dominance of automobile use (parking, traffic) by giving preference to pedestrian, [public] transit and cycling infrastructure in all projects, public initiatives and conversations with leaders and influencers."
Franc D'Ambrosio, Victoria, British Columbia

"South Downtown is a neighborhood that was fairly devastated by disinvestment and bad development decisions in the latter half of the 20th century. It has a small residential population of a few hundred people and their voices are barely "at the table" with city leaders when it comes to effecting positive change in the area. I'm participating in regular neighborhood meetings to try and boost the voices of people who live and work here."
Darin Givens, Atlanta, Georgia 

"Currently, I'm heavily focused on the issue of mental health. I'm reporting on disparities in service and police violence towards people with mental illness. I'm also trying to dig into what stigma is, where it comes from and how to eradicate it."
Martin Xavi Macias, Chicago, Illinois

"Transportation. I am working on expanding MARTA in Cobb & Gwinnett through similar process as I did with MARTA in Clayton."
Brionte McCorkle, Atlanta, Georgia

"I am invested in seeing more healing spaces for people. I have been supporting a new community healing center that opened, called the People's Movement Center and I have been meeting with healers. I am in an organizer training called SPEAC, run by Hope Community, and I am seeing that we are in desperate need of platforms for emotional sharing around trauma, especially in light of Black Lives Matter."
Magdalena Kaluza, Minneapolis, Minnesota