Global Urban News: Inviting Your Thoughts

The Citistates Group invites your ideas on a challenging new project.

The focus: how we can connect the world’s cities, their leaders and citizens, to share more effectively their hopes and goals, and the leading experiments that they’re forging?. The need’s growing more critical as the world’s urban population, which just last year passed the 50 percent mark, heads for 70 percent urban by 2050.

Our belief: the innovations are out there! But they are buried in specialists’ “silos.” And most serious: neither traditional “mainstream” media, nor web sites, nor the “bloggesphere” take them into much account. Conflicts, disasters, personalities, alarming incidences of corruption get the lion’s share of attention.

We feel the answer to this is good journalism – story telling about experiments in cities (whether official or citizen-initiated) based on verifiable facts, balance and credible resources. Pointing honestly to the problems and limitations of the new approaches. With engaging writing that focuses on people’s lives, actions taken and impacts they make.

We’re realistic: cities’ economies, political styles and cultures differ; rarely can an experiment in one city can simply be “replicated” elsewhere. But elements of new experiments may fit, and the ingenuity and spirit behind the efforts in one city may spark fresh new thought and innovation in another.

We have some modest support to develop this concept for a global audience from UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance. And we plan to have an operational plan and a website ready for feedback before the World Urban Forum in Rio next March.

Here is our broad concept right now –

A website with up to four major news stories a week, written by journalists across the developed and developing world. The stories will be short enough (800-1,000 words) for easy reading. They will be enhanced by a variety of “new media” elements to peak and keep reader interest and prompt other Internet, broadcast and newspaper pick-ups around the world. Expert observers will also be invited to add brief commentaries to the stories, placing the experiments in their global context. Stories will be accompanied by a variety of creative links to relevant web sites for anyone with a further depth of interest in the topic.

We are now meeting with a variety of key players we believe have some interest in how this concept can be perfected and advanced. But we need much broader feedback and thoughts before we figure out our options.

As readers of our Citiwire columns and an interest in our Citistates Group, please offer your insights on how we move forward – either as a comment added to this blog, or in an e-mail to Neal Peirce (npeirce@citistates.com) or Farley Peters (fpeters@citistates.com).

And many thanks!