This issue, we’re preoccupied with cities and how we live and work. 2020 has been a year to… remember? Forget? Fundamentally challenge our beliefs about what we do and how we do it?
The role of cities in our cultural and economic life connects so many of the big ideas we hear about at governmental or economic level, from devolution and levelling up to #buildbackbetter, 15-minute cities and the functioning of the gig economy; basic income, employee ownership.
As much as we’ve been told we’re ‘all in this together’, there have been a huge range of experiences during lockdown. From key workers and home workers to parents juggling home schooling and the simple inadequacy of many of our internet connections, there’s more nuance to our experiences in 2020 than we’ve seen represented.
While throwaway lines about ‘the death of the office’ or the ‘end of cities’ have peppered the newspapers, these decisions have a profound impact on millions of people. On their physical – and mental – wellbeing, the health of which won’t become clear for some time yet. While Boris gets on his bike to tackle obesity, we need to think about the impact of diminishing the places that bring people together, whether workplace or city centre or venues up and down the country. We need to make sure people have access to the facilities they need: healthcare, schools, shops, places to meet and green space; we need public transport to remain viable – even if people switch permanently to working from home. And we need to make sure that car-free families can still get around if we’re to maintain the environmental wins we’ve seen in lockdown.
And so we think about levelling up; about the opportunity to green our cities and, later this month, we’ll be hearing from cities on a more frequent basis about what they’ve done, and what works. And what doesn’t. Our correspondents tackle the challenges of heading back to the office, and what that means across the globe. And we think too about the economic interventions that can support these challenges; about basic income, and employee ownership.
We’ve also launched our new writing competition and commissioned its first writer, who you’ll hear from in issue four. It’s part of our commitment to hear a broader range of voices and ideas from beyond the walls of our office – and our city. We, too, can build better.