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A kaleidoscopic moment shapes a new mosaic, as forces conspire to create a social new order

Children, inescapably, have a fascination with kaleidoscopes. They don’t need to know that the kaleidoscope was invented in 1816 by Sir David Brewster or...

Austin and the future of water

For a glimpse of the future of water in fast-growing Austin and Central Texas, don’t look to the past of reengineered rivers, multi-dam reservoirs...

Austin’s segregation mirrored in the devastating burden COVID-19 imposes on city’s poor, uninsured and yet ‘essential’

Long before the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic began their spread across the globe, the two halves of Austin divided by Interstate 35 were...

Austin needs to become as wired as it is weird

Austin is a technological hub, a startup mecca, the best educated, fastest-growing large city in America, home to a world class university and brilliant...

The Renewal Series - Coping with COVID-19

Tales of the Global City

On the origins and future of urbanity in our moment of populist and nationalist resurgence

I have spent most of my life as a diplomat, working for my native Belgium and later for the European Union. While most retired...

And in conclusion, here’s how we might seal Austin’s progressivism with a ‘city parliament’

Austin’s progressivism might be compared to the agave americana, better known in its native Texas as the “century plant” for the decades between each...

An opportunity in a new era of urban governance defined by global consciousness and deeper democracy

2020 may well prove the year when the Austin Paradox became paramount. Dually sparked by the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the concurrent...

Austin moves toward a new and modern style of progressivism, but not without civic aches and pains

If the slow death of the term liberal, the “L word,” and it’s replacement by the more broad-shouldered “P word” of progressive, has a...

Environmental passion on one side of a city, neglect on the other – how ‘weird’ is that Austin?

From its annual birthday party for Winnie-the-Pooh’s Eeyore over the past half century to Texas’ only nude beach, to its tolerance for hippies, bats,...

How a city plan, the atomic age and Cold War economics converged to shape today’s Austin

Among famous dates that defined everything that came afterward, there’s 1776 for the Declaration of Independence, 1789 for the French Revolution, 1914 for the...

Views & Reviews

A signpost called Trust at the crossroads of America’s diverging and evermore partisan pathways

Review: Trust – America’s Best Chance, by Pete Buttigieg, 2020, 215 pp., Liveright/Norton Endeavoring to read and produce a review of a book called Trust amid...

A Promised Land, a prologue of cautious counsel to a nation readying for change in the White House

Review: A Promised Land, by Barack Obama, 2020, 768 pp., Crown, an imprint of Random House Reading former President Barack Obama's sad and hopeful memoir, one...

How to make America radical again (and how to remember that in fact it always has been)

In this wide-ranging conversation, Urbānitūs Associate Editor Robert Brehm and Professor Harvey J. Kaye thumb through the pages of Take Hold of Our History:...

America’s zero-sum, tooth-and-nail political battlescape in the microcosm of Wisconsin

Editor's note: In light of America's nail-biting election now down to the tedious count of ballots in the upper Midwest, we are republishing this...

Owning the American Dream, ending the trap of rent servitude

Homeownership is generally considered a staple of the American dream, symbolizing individual freedom, financial security, political representation, and access to community. Strongly rooted in...

Misremembering Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X – how America rewrote a legacy

Review: The Sword and the Shield – The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., by Peniel E. Joseph, 2020, 373 pp., Basic...

Life at the end of the ‘Age of Miracles’ — a look at why progress itself makes plagues and...

Review: Plagues and the Paradox of Progress – Why the World is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways, by Thomas J. Bollyky, 2018, 280 pp.,...

There is a reason cities are outpacing national governments in the face of COVID-19

Review: The Nation City – Why Mayors Are Now Running the World, by Rahm Emanuel, 2020, 235 pp., Alfred A. Knoph America’s first death attributed to...

Why can’t we price for externalities?

Last November, Austin lost Freddie’s Place, a funky bar, barbecue joint, outdoor music pavilion and children’s playground all rolled into one. The restaurant had been closed...

Perhaps you will consider this a eulogy

I see myself in the television screen (where the man stands in a sweatshirt that says “6 million was not enough”) ...

The Year of Elisions

It is Decemberin the year of elisionsthe vowels of feelinghave been lost to fit the metric povertythe 300,000 lost in the leapsacross the lines...

When That Day Comes

We’re waiting for the day when we can say, it’s over, foreverWe’re tired of all the lies, and all the guys who’ve gone to...

By Allergy and Allegory

There is a ghostland somewhere near Of spirits of the Earth And aging oxygenated dirt And there is hope and there is hate But no one ever shows up late