How Self-Proclaimed Urbanists Can Make Our Towns Stronger


Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a new, weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

Two semesters from a bachelor’s in technical writing with no particular interest in cities, I sat in my usual school day lunch spot, a three-seat swing on the University of North Texas campus, and listened to an interview with Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City.

The premise—how we can design our cities to make people happier—enraptured me and before I could finish my sandwich, I ordered the book, which arrived at my home later that week.

369 pages later and a newly inspired vision for a happier Denton, I became a self-proclaimed urbanist. Sound familiar?

Maybe you read Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Maybe you read the classic Strong Towns stroad article. These powerful pieces can turn any casual reader into a lifelong urbanist—no matter your background.

It’s an enlightening yet frustrating position: you understand good urban design enough to see its potential in your city. However, because you don’t have a related job or degree, you discount your potential impact.

Quite the contrary: as a city dweller, your observations—the pedestrian hesitant to cross the road, the student (still) standing at the bus stop—can capture the attention of your peers and inspire much-needed improvements to the livability of your city.

All you need to do is document them.

In this episode, I chat with Alissa Walker, urbanism editor at Curbed. Like myself (and perhaps you, as well), Alissa didn’t formally study cities. Instead, she walked her neighborhood. She rode her bike. She took public transportation (with her daughter, too!) and documented her observations throughout.

The result, as you’ll learn in this episode, was that Alissa gained an important lesson that all self-identifying urbanists should memorize by heart: “Living in cities is personal, and that’s why writing about those cities also has to be personal—that’s how we make change.”

If you’re a self-proclaimed urbanist struggling to find your role your city, this is a can’t-miss episode—guaranteed.

For these and many more insights, check out It’s The Little Things: our new podcast by our Community Builder, Jacob Moses.

(Top photo via pxhere.)