The Thriving Cities Blog exists to investigate the deep structures and ideas that underpin the ways we view and understand our cities. Whereas most blogs trade in policy debates or current trends, our goal is to go deeper. We want to examine the underlying forces that affect the possibility and limits of our cities to thrive. We aim to explore the beliefs, institutional arrangements, and everyday habits that foster commitment and care in places that are often endogenously conflicted and complexly interwoven. We believe that exploring these topics online together will help us unearth the elusive capacities of our cities—both individual and collective—needed in shaping our communities for the better.
Our last blog post highlighted some of the history surrounding indicators and measurements. We now turn to a question: How do all these measurements help us understand what it means to thrive in today’s cities?
We are awash in indicators. From big aggregate economic metrics such Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to more socially oriented indexes such as the Human Development Index (HDI), and all popular demographic statistics—life expectancy, to carbon footprints and “happiness” metrics—we measure almost all aspects of our lives.
Our search for evidence drove us to spend the last two years exploring how other community groups think about the health and well-being of their communities. This week we released our Indicator Explorer, an interactive web tool which highlights the most popular indicators* used by community indicator projects and situates them within our human ecology framework and current academic research.
Enabling local affections involves hard work from individuals, locally embedded institutions, a built environment scaled to people, and community-focused habits and practices.
Aside from improvements to cardiovascular health, walking, particularly within one’s community, provides a myriad of benefits.
The next time a city or community is struggling, rather than looking only to macroeconomic forces or national policymakers for reasons, we should equally examine the strength of local leadership and the texture of their networks.
The most effective measure of gentrification will not be a magic bullet, but rather a constellation of variables aimed at addressing its processual and multi-dimensional character.
With patience, with equanimity, and with discernment, we can identify new potentials to provide opportunities for growth and prosperity to everyone.
This past April, the Landmarks Law turned 50. Its legacy has been important for shaping the urban environment.