This post is based on welcoming remarks given at the Human Cities launch at Stanford University in December 2015.
We’ve chosen to name this effort the Human Cities Initiative because it's about bringing the focus of urban development back to people and communities. But how do we tackle this sort of challenge when cities are such multifaceted and complicated places? How do we find solutions when a “right answer” for one place may not fit other contexts? That's where you come in.
Collaborating Across Disciplines
One way we can start this search for answers is through collaboration—in particular, interdisciplinary collaboration, which Stanford is well known for and has by now been encoded into our DNA. Not a single school or department or discipline has all the answers. Magic happens when you put us together—so I’m glad all of you, with your diverse backgrounds, are here today!
But putting people into the same room is not enough. Each member of the team also has to have a desire to work with the others, and the group must find a common framework that facilitates their interactions. In short, collaboration has to be intentional.
I hope then, that the Human Cities Initiative can be that place of intention for those of us at Stanford who are excited about cities, and who care about shaping our collective future—and especially those who want to push back on the prevailing notions of what development should look like. If you want to imagine the future differently, you are in the right place. This initiative is the ship that brings together.
Your Contribution is Needed
Human Cities is also a home. We want to offer programming and activities that personally interest you—that come from the grassroots and aren't just issued from the top.
This is a community. Look around you. These are your people! These are the people who are crazy about, and inspired by, and who dream about cities. I invite all of you, no matter your background, or what year you are, or what your affiliation is, to please talk to us. And talk to each other!
Maybe you have an interest in cities, but aren’t sure yet how to engage—this is the place for you. We’ll find a project that motivates you, and we'll give you the tools to ethically explore cities and communities.
Alternatively, you might be someone who knows very clearly what you want to do, but you’re looking for collaborators—researchers that have similar interests and complementary skills. We will help you find each other!
Or maybe you believe your work doesn’t explicitly involve urbanization, but you’d like to see how you fit. This is also the place for you.
And finally, maybe you’re just someone who is intrigued by cities and wants to have a fun chat about it so you can gain some inspiration to take back to your own work. We’re happy you’re here too.
This is your tribe. Let’s build our community together!