6 inspiring city stories

Amy Labarrière

By Amy Labarrière, on July 18th, 2019

> Read Amy Labarrière's articles

Looking for a quick dose of urban inspiration? From Helsinki (FI) to Belgrade (RS), Vancouver (CA) to Cape Town (ZA), here’s your fix of city stories packed with ideas, images and can-do attitude!

1. Urban inequality in pictures

These aerial photos by Johnny Miller offer a stark visual reminder of the economic, social – and physical – divisions between neighbours in the same city. On his website, Unequal Scenes, Miller writes: “If the images provoke uncomfortable feelings of fear, despair, or an unsettling realization of complicity – good. They are intended to.”

National Geographic shares 10 of the most striking shots. Want to visualize inequality? View cities from above!

2. Welcome, watch or ban: how cities are dealing with electric scooters

Do you see e-scooters as a dangerous annoyance or a welcome ticket to freedom? In the Guardian, Laura Laker says the ‘arrive first, ask later’ tactics of scooter hire companies has riled cities around the world – but tech bros and city authorities are finding solutions. Hop on for a whirlwind tour of the different ways cities are adapting to Lime, Bird and their rivals.

3. Helsinki‘s radical solution to homelessness

Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. The Guardian’s Jon Henley investigates: “The secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally.” A clear overview of Housing First and how it came about.

(If you find that interesting, also see URBACT’s article on the role of cities in fighting homelessness More from URBACT)

4. “Nothing about a city is ever truly permanent”

This short read highlights just one of many inspirational ‘CityChangers’ the URBAN FUTURE Global Conference defines as “passionate people who drive change towards more sustainable cities”. Former Vancouver city planner Brent Toderian motivates cities to tackle the ‘we can’t do that in our city’ mindset head on. He says: “You can transform your city quickly and temporarily, with great benefit and effect. As we’re building the city we’ll have for 100 years or more, we also need to build the city we have for the next six months in smarter and more creative ways, always learning from what works and doesn’t work”.

5. Tourist-crowded cities in North America wonder when to stop self-promotion

From Vancouver, a city now at “95% tourism capacity”, Molly Mccluskey gives an interesting North American perspective on a question that many European cities have been grappling with for years: the negative sides of mass tourism.

6. 5 unexpected cultural hubs 

The most buzzy, artistic places on the planet are not the ones you might expect” – writing for BBC culture Libby Banks whisks us away to discover five cities with burgeoning art scenes and explore what makes a cultural hub.

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