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So You Want to Build a City?

If you want to build a city, you have to tell a story. The truth is it takes a good deal of yarn spin

Urbn Developments

May 13 · Issue #1 · View online
A semi-regular roundup of all things urbanism, economic development, and good old-fashioned city building. Written by Lucas Lindsey.

If you want to build a city, you have to tell a story. The truth is it takes a good deal of yarn spinning to stitch together some urban fabric. You’ve got to lay down a narrative that sets the agenda and rallies supporters before you need them. Now, the story can be told any number of ways: with a camera at street level, from a drone high above the skyline, in the op-ed of a local paper, or way off somewhere on the Internet. But tell it you must. Because if you don’t, someone else sure will. And then one day you’ll wake up and find yourself in a city that someone else built. Where’s the fun in that?

AerialTallahassee is in the storytelling business. They drive their narrative the right way, with consistency and quality. AT’s social accounts routinely capture and share infrastructure development in real-time, across multiple platforms, driving hundreds of interactions, tens of thousands of views, and inspiring all sorts of, shall we say, civic discourse. 
They drip drip drip micro content that fills the cavernous space between public meetings. They beat the drum. Again and again and again, amassing an engaged audience along the way and turning their Facebook wall into a de facto public square where caps-locked sneers meet fact-based rebuttals meet sarcastic quips. It might not look like it, and especially not to those used to in past eras shaping community stories with only the occasional headline, but in the midst of this mess, a story is being written, one interaction at a time. Opinions are being formed, eroded, and reinforced–not at the pace of a press release, but every. single. day.
In the case of Tallahassee’s shiny new bike/ped connector bridge, the runaway cost narrative caught on early. Local agencies had a hard time getting ahead of the headline, but they risk losing the long game by failing to follow up with regular content like AerialTallahassee offers. As a result, lost in the discussion are the bridge’s economic benefits to a part of town that’s long sat forgotten. Lost are its mobility implications for an impressive, regional-scale network of trails that will wind from the heart of urban Tallahassee all the way to the Gulf. Lost is the opportunity to tell the story, and the opportunity to proactively build an aligned audience that could help move future projects forward. Lost, that is, for the local government. For others, opportunity abounds.
Drip. (+1 for Leon County recognizing the social power of a feed like AerialTallahassee and partnering up to tell a story that matters. In addition to creating their own content, local agencies can do far more with far less by leveraging creative relationships)
Urbn News Roundup
Young and Old: Both Need Housing To Make Tallahassee Home
What Makes a Thriving and Interesting City? Something Called Collision Density
GM, Lyft to Test Self-Driving Electric Taxis
The point of cities is multiplicity of choice. - Jane Jacobs
Like this sort of stuff? I post a ton more of it, drip by drip, on Twitter. Follow along here.
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