Shortly after posting our last Top 20 list, Brent Toderian, an engaged Twitter follower and professional urban planner, suggested we compile a list of websites for “multidisciplinary urbanists / city-builders.” To make a slightly longer story short, we took his idea to heart and created this new list. We gathered every relevant site, none of which appear on our previous lists for 2013, and then ranked them using Alexa International Rankings. This list belongs to those passionate about building, reviving, and improving cities. These 20 websites take a holistic perspective towards city-building by incorporating traditional urban planning, the arts, technology, crowdsourcing and other fields that can be used to help urban communities. Read our list and see where people from all professions and backgrounds are going to not only to learn about city-building, but also to participate in the process.
The number one ranked site on our list analyzes cities from every facet of urbanism. Co-founded by Richard Florida, the site can be explored through several categories: housing, economy, commute, art, design, technology, politics and neighborhoods. You can also browse through the site based on specific cities or features. If you are up for some urban brainstorming, take a look at The Big Fix, where they pose a weekly question and open it up for discussion. Stay involved by subscribing to their newsletter or providing them with your own feedback. For all of you writers, look through their career opportunities and perhaps you can join the staff!
The online magazine offers a platform for bloggers interested in inspiring social change to publish their writing. You can find numerous articles about business, cities, culture, politics, technology, science, media, the globe, environment and even some light relief. Learn how to become a better writer with Citizen University, which provides an instruction packet and insight from the Urban Times editors. Aspiring writers should look into their job opportunities or just sign up to write! Have some fun looking through the Urban Market for trendy products. Feel free to contact them with any questions.
Shareable is a non-profit based out of San Francisco, California that inspires people to create an equitable world. The team of writers shares articles about cities, lifestyle, enterprise, economy, tech, commons and “how to.” The organization is supported by several sponsors and through donations. Look at their calendar to see events going on around the world. You can even post your own! Stay involved by subscribing to the newsletter or just shooting them an email. There are many ways to become involved in the sharing community. Just give the site a few clicks!
The Urban Institute was formed in 1968 under President Johnson, who believed there needed to be a group devoted to independent nonpartisan analysis. The organization is a part of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. The website provides an impressive amount of content, with 10 different policy centers. Take a look at their current projects, publications and press room for the information. Scan their events page. And do not worry if you cannot attend in person, as many can be viewed via video webcast. Their resources page is a lot of fun. I particularly enjoy the “Five Questions For…” section. Look through their job postings, which are all over the US. Send an email with any questions you have and support their work by sending in a donation.
Next City is a non-profit devoted to connecting cities and educating the public. It was founded as The Next American City in 2003, when it only published a quarterly magazine. It has since grown into an content-rich website that focuses on economic development, policy, livability, infrastructure and civic technology. The Next City staff is supported by a large group of contributors. Interested users can become a part of the group by pitching a story. If you really like what you are seeing, subscribe to The Forefront by either paying $20 per year or purchasing individual stories. On top of this subscription, Next City also puts on several events throughout the year, including the annual Vanguard Conference.
Going on 40 years, Planning is the website for planning professionals in the UK. Their news is updated as the stories happen, whether they be in-depth articles, Op-Eds or blogs. You can even read appeals cases and tune into audio and video content. Their thorough list of resources is helpful to a variety of professions, including lawyers and consultants, amongst others. If there’s a topic you would like to discuss, start a conversation on their forum. If you are feeling inspired looking through the site, apply to one or more of the jobs on their extensive listing. To get access to even more content, create an account!
Future Cape Town is a non-profit think tank started by Rashiq Fataar in July 2010, shortly after South Africa’s successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup. The website creates awareness and facilitates discussion about the future of cities. The diverse content on the site includes sections on cities, mobility, architecture, economy, public space, community, information from around the world and other unique features. Future Cape Town provides a helpful list of resources that help you stay involved with cities’ growth. And good news - the organization is growing! Fill out this form if you are interested in contributing to the site’s content.
Smart Growth America helps create well-designed, livable cities through advocacy, coalition building and research. If you are unsure as to what “smart growth” means, just click on this page for a clear definition. Readers can scroll through their blogs, various guides and programs the organization has kick started. There is a large amount of information on the site, but fortunately there is a site map to help you navigate the content. If you too are interested in building great neighborhoods, subscribe to Smart Growth America’s mailing list. And make sure to watch out for their career opportunities!
Street Film, a project of OpenPlans, was founded in 2006 and has grown into a reliable source for education on smart transportation design. The fun part is that the whole site is videos. Amazingly enough, the website contains almost 500 videos, all of which can be viewed for free. That’s not bad for a two-person staff! You can subscribe to their newsletter to receive periodic updates. You can help the organization grow by making a donation, sharing the story about Street Films, ordering a DVD, or submitting your own video to be featured in their Community Showcase.
Capping off our Top 10 is Strong Towns, a non-profit organization that helps America’s towns develop financial resiliency. The website defines a Strong Town and explains how communities can grow while spending money efficiently. Scan through the site’s different sections, including their blog and publications. One of their fun tools is called Curbside Chat, a program that includes a presentation and community discussion in your town. Make sure to check out their podcast and SID.TV, which includes 48 videos about how we can make our communities more resilient. You can stay involved by subscribing to their mailing list or making a donation.
The following websites just missed our Top 10, but that does not mean they should go un-clicked. Take a look at the second half of our list. Not only will you find a variety of content, but you will be interested to see how they engage their users.
We hope you enjoyed reading through the websites. Make sure to subscribe to the Twitter list so you can stay updated with the sites’ activity.
People are constantly exploring new ways to help cities thrive. After reviewing our list, are there any websites we missed that you think belong here? Let us know!
Credits: Data and images linked to sources