Urbānitūs is a fast-evolving media project. It grew from a set of discussions in mid-2019 among a small group of the curious and concerned about the state of the world and the emerging role of newly global cities -- particularly the one in which we all live, Austin, Texas.
The upshot of that ongoing conversation was the concept of ‘geo-urbanism,’ a term we invented to frame the mission we set for ourselves. That mission is to understand and describe how and why cities are affected as never before by global events. At least as importantly, that mission is also to understand and describe how cities are becoming geo-political actors in their own right on the global stage as never before.
As the old saying goes, “all politics is local.” We certainly believe that is still the case. But now, the local drives the global as never before. The national – not just in the United States but worldwide – is in perpetual crisis. National actors are awkwardly caught in between. For the dynamism, innovation and drivers of change are all local and their effects are broadly global.
This represents an inversion of the polarities in the way local, regional and national governments interact. It upends hierarchies in the the way the news media refracts events and developments. It reshuffles the contours of business, trade and economic relationships.
Collective and institutional memory – another way to say history -- is also important to us. We cannot chart and navigate the future if we lose our understanding of our past. So while we endeavor broadly to put local developments in the larger global context, we also seek to put them in the deep and often unexplored historical context. We’ve given this a name too, “prequelism,” pushing back the starting point of our reporting narratives.
Urbanitus is the publishing vessel for this endeavor. There is no roadmap. There is no model for examining and reporting on the emergent change in the world’s operating system and systems. Ours is and will remain a work-in-progress. And difficult work it is.
In most discussions of why we are doing this, the first question is always the same: Why Austin?
Austin is the fastest growing city in the United States. It sits at the center of the emerging new Dallas-Houston-San Antonio urban triangle that is the fastest transforming mega-region of North America - culturally, demographically, politically and economically. We are beset, meanwhile, with some of America’s and the world’s most daunting challenges of climate change, migration, urban displacement, refugee relocation, water scarcity, homelessness and education systems strained to the breaking point. These are just a few of the global challenges that can only be effectively responded to with local action.
So we are fortunate to be participants in the life of one of America’s best educated cities, a hub of technology, innovation and creativity. Austin is among the cities very much up to the challenge.
And so Austin is the lens through which we are following the emerging story of geo-urbanism. We have a lot to do. As does Austin, which is doing a lot.
Having launched in early November, we are currently publishing on a monthly cadence. We plan to step this up in 2020.
Welcome. Take a look. And send us a note or two. Let’s all help one another learn about what Austin and other cities are doing in the new age of geo-urbanism. And please watch this space.