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Cities are melting pots for geopolitical ideology, cultural appropriation and expression of identity and beliefs. As the world continues to globalise, but also polarise, the best parts of this integration are being put to the test and pushing some people to the margins. In this episode we explore how cities can manage geopolitical conflicts, embrace the richness of cultures and ensure that all individuals and communities are represented and have equitable access.
In response to a 2019 report on regenerative city-regions stating that we need a “‘mutually supportive symbiosis between the built, cultural and natural environments,” Katya Letunovsky refers to Henri Lefebvre’s “trialetic of space” and Edward Soja’s “thirdspace”, the intersection of the physical and the perceived or imagined, where policy and decisions happen. Habidatum provides data to urban planners and investors, for example on how vacant buildings may be re-purposed, and powers the Mastercard Inclusive Growth Score™. In Manhattan, evidence showed that once commercial rents reach a tipping point, “elite abandoned areas'' get created. Time-sharing and friendly lease agreements can diversify commercial activities.
Spatial equity is about equal access to jobs, services, nodes of activity and green spaces through transport, last-mile connectivity (the development of a bicycle network in Almaty, Kazakhstan being a case in point) and walkability. Residents’ and census data alone are not sufficient; data can also tell us about the temporary communities congregating at certain times and in particular places.
Mary Pagano advocates for obliging corporations and the ultra-wealthy to take more responsibility and to tackle the hollowing out of the middle class. She points out how women lead and live differently, and urges bringing in more of the 51% of the population into urban planning - life is about more than working and earning money. She acknowledges her plans to build a sustainable new city in Morocco focused on humanity, health, happiness, quality of life, urban agriculture and “non-invasive” technology for all will require education.
Naresh Fernandes looks at how the informalisation of Bombay’s (Mumbai’s) economy, and politics, are thwarting social mobility and solidarity. Historically successful, and needed, civil society and trade unions are finding it increasingly difficult to operate. After the 1992-1993 communal riots, mohalla (neighbourhood) committees convened the worst-hit communities to discuss local problems, and how to resolve them. This regular concerted effort - resulting in direct action - allowed them to ride through moments of heightened tension. Hindi films in the 1950s and 60s portray Bombay’s popular promenade, Marine Drive, rather than its mansions, but the incongruous gated communities sprouting in a city with little street crime and break-ins risk making it more dangerous, as they expel Jane Jacobs’ “eyes on the street”.
Nonetheless, Bombay’s public transport and spaces allow familiarity across classes, which, in Naresh’s view, can lead to empathy. He and Mary speak about religions and nationalities cohabiting in New York City. Following the 1999 police shooting of an African immigrant, Naresh witnessed individual protests by diverse communities, culminating in a collective march across Brooklyn Bridge. In other words, our voices matter. Citizen action can derail non-inclusive and marginalizing policy. We still have the responsibility of being agents of change.
Naresh Fernandes is the editor of Scroll.in, a digital news publication in India. He is the author of City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay and Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay's Jazz Age. He is a trustee of the Urban Development Research Institute in Mumbai.
Board Member, Founder,
Hera City, HeraTV, FemFoundry
Mary is a founder/CEO, board advisor and angel investor to several female founded companies. Currently she is CEO/Founder of Hera Media Group, a media channel for all things Hera, Hera city, TV, Film, podcasts with solutions & stories around the globe, where people are making a positive impact on humanity and the planet. Prior to this over the last 25 years, as a female P&L leader in a male dominated tech industry, Mary has worked at Fortune 30 companies such as Motorola, AT&T and GE as well as tech start-ups, to drive and build new businesses and revenue, valued from $100M to $3B. She has led businesses and organizations as a founding partner and in global sales, strategic marketing, business development, product development, strategy and partnerships roles, across education, large enterprises, government, entertainment, technology and consumer segments.
Katya is a location analyst and entrepreneur. Co-founder at Habidatum where her role is business development and overseeing product and operations. Before starting Habidatum, she led the Urban Data Platform innovation project at Thomson Reuters and worked as an analyst at S&P and research institutes. MS in regional and urban studies. Gained experience around data science and real estate / urban economics at university. Since 2013, Katya has been lecturing on location data analytics for smart cities and real estate at the US and European academic institutions (own courses, workshops, guest lectures). Invited to oversee final thesis presentations as an external (non-faculty) chair.
For this episode we will be supporting SINA by donating £100 for Every 100 Listeners which will allow :
One young urban refugee in Uganda supported to join SINA for 6 months to unleash his/her potential
Marginalized youth and refugees lack opportunities to create a dignified life and are expected to remain in poverty. Social Innovation Academies in East Africa are transforming the educational system and allowing marginalized communities to create their own solutions and social enterprises tackling root causes of social problems.