Thinking back on 2010, there were at least three noteworthy phenomenon that have helped change the discussion about cities and how we live in them. Here are my three. Feel free to debate, or add your own in the comments section.
1. The discussion and debate surrounding Richard Florida’s publishing of The Great Reset. In Canada, bloggers and the media focused more on his argument about urbanization supporting the knowledge economy and broader creativity–the new economic reality for the 21st century. In the US the discussion was more about the role of home ownership in slowing the needed economic restructuring, tying people to places with dying economies. But everywhere, it got many thinking about the relationship between how we live, where we live, and the economy.
2. Walkscore.com saw it’s popularity and use expand, and received the funds to expand its offerings, adding more heatmaps, a transit score, commute report and a commercial property score. Taken in conjunction with discussion coming from The Great Reset, walkscore provides some quantiative data on amenity density and walkability that can be correlated to economic or job growth. By mapping features and amenities of a city, it’s allowing for discussion of what makes an ideal home location.
3. Social media is playing a growing role in city politics and city life. Key city policies are now arguably discussed and debated on blogs and websites more than in town-hall or council meetings. Naheed Nenshi harnessed social media to offer a more walkable and urban vision for the city and seize the mayor’s chair in Calgary. And twitter has more people sharing urban events with each other and the world.