Density: What’s the goal?

When you think of urban density, what do you picture? Hong Kong, Manhattan, and Sao Paulo pack in high-rises to create extreme population densities. Older European cities like Paris, Barcelona and Athens create high densities with mostly mid-rise buildings. Informal settlements in global mega cities can squeeze hundreds of thousands of people into each kilometer,… Read More

Hop on a bike and cut emissions

The newest report on climate change is grim: we have 12 years to dramatically cut our carbon emissions. If we don't, there are enormous risks: worse heat waves, more droughts, species loss, melting ice sheets, rising sea levels. It's already too late to stop climate change, but we have just 12 years to avert the… Read More

Uber Hype

Uber wants to come to Halifax. There is huge hype around Uber. The company operates across the globe, and in hundreds of North American cities. It's a ride-sharing business, using an app to connect travelers with Uber drivers. Uber sells itself as a disruptive company, shaking up the transportation business. People are excited by Uber, and… Read More

Global Cities – Pushing Back

Global cities: New York, Paris, London, Toronto, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Vancouver, Mumbai and a few dozen others. The cities with wealth, culture, talent and brand recognition. The winners. List after list  after list ranks cities by their economic power and their international connections. According to many theorists, notably Richard Florida and Edward Gleaser, these alpha cities… Read More

Social Infrastructure

The Atlantic posted an opinion piece by sociology professor Eric Klinenburg on America's failing social infrastructure. Klinenburg believes that America is neglecting places like libraries, parks, schools and playgrounds. These are critical places where people meet and form friendships and connections. These social connections are the basis of public life. Klinenburg's piece is similar in tone… Read More

Paradox City – Vancouver

It's been a few years since I've published here at Social Cities. It's been busy, but I also lost focus on my original message about creating great public space and encouraging social connections. My interest in writing has revived. I have fresh doubts. I have questions about beliefs I held firmly only a few years… Read More

Accessibility is good for everyone

I attended HRM's Transportation Standing Committee on Thursday, where I heard a great presentation on the huge challenge that thousands of people with disabilities face trying to travel. The presentation by Gerry Post was specifically about options for Access-a-Bus, which has long waiting lists and many users who have trouble getting where they need to… Read More

Trumping the public?

"Well, at least we are doing better than the States". It's a common theme in Canada, especially among progressives. Whether it's environmental protection, tolerance, health care, or hockey, Canadians often like to point out how we do better than our southern neighbours. These days, however, it's not much of an accomplishment to say our political system works better… Read More

In Praise of Green

I've been living in the Annapolis Valley for a few months. I'm more of a city person, but I'm thrilled with the parks and trails around New Minas, Kentville and Wolfville. We haven't even gotten too far out of town, but my wife and I, and my two little girls, have plenty of beautiful places… Read More