Cities

City Shifts: News Roundup

City Shifts gif

City Shifts is a recurring Blueprint series that rounds up the latest and greatest content from writers and publishers across the web. From linear, car-free cities to often overlooked rural communities, these articles are sure to help you up your virtual water cooler conversation game.

1. Saudi Arabia Announces Plans for a 100-Mile Car-Free Linear City Called The Line (Dezeen)

In Brief

Saudi Arabia has revealed plans to create a 100-mile city made from a series of walkable neighborhoods. The car-free, human-first development, aptly dubbed “The Line,” will be fully powered by renewable energy—a proactive measure to counter rising sea levels, CO2 emissions, and commute times, according to Dezeen reporter Cajsa Carlson.

Why We Care

Cities across the world are concocting plans to develop 15-minute neighborhoods, but this project develops a five-minute city boasting even better walkability and efficiency. With essential amenities available within five minutes of each residence in The Line, the project seeks to reduce car use, alleviate CO2 emissions, and find alternatives to oil to reduce dependency on the resource.

This project has the potential to create a new blueprint for urban planners worldwide. Fueled by 100 percent renewable energy, with carbon-positive buildings, no streets, and no cars aside from underground AI-driven vehicles, this development does more than gain traction for a sustainable built environment. It actively prevents the negative impacts associated with urban congestion, such as traffic accidents and pollution, and eliminates the negative impacts brought on by fossil fuels, all while fostering a tight-knit community.

2. Everything You Should Know About Community Fridges (Mashable)


The Leimert Park community fridge in Los Angeles, serving community members in need all year round.

In Brief

Often painted in vibrant colors with inviting signs attached to the door, community fridges provide free food to those who need it. Germinating from mutual aid, the fridges are set up by volunteers, stocked by community members, and used by people in need, as Chase Dibenedetto of Mashable reports.

Why We Care

Surging food insecurity during the pandemic has affected many American families, and community fridges provide immediate relief in a bottom-up fashion, free of charge, wait times, and red tape. Community-based enterprises like this one promote a supportive culture built on trust—all the more important during times of enforced or encouraged social isolation—and help create the kind of neighborhoods we all aspire to live in.

Volunteer-run initiatives like this can also point to gaps or failures in policy and inspire top-down initiatives that better support neighborhoods and their residents as well.

There are plenty of ways to get involved with community fridges—or even start your own.

3. America’s Rural Crisis Triggers Calls for Biden to Name Rural Czar (Politico)

Rural farm.
Photographer: Alena Mozhjer | Source: Shutterstock

In Brief

Politico’s Liz Crampton reports that President Biden is being encouraged to appoint a representative for rural U.S. communities, which have been hard hit by recent health and economic crises. Policies directed toward rural America were a notable component of Biden’s election platform, with the communities anticipated to play a significant role in the President’s efforts to combat climate change.

Why We Care

Those in rural communities are aching from the pandemic, having experienced heightened unemployment rates and food insecurity. Biden’s plan seeks to create green jobs and lower the rural unemployment rate while actively working toward a sustainable future.

But effective policy addresses the perspectives of those it impacts most directly. A dedicated czar would provide rural America the opportunity to be heard—to have a voice at the center of power in the United States. If these long-overlooked communities are to be “built back better,” the Biden administration will need their buy in and their input. And if all goes well, the President may even unlock the elusive rural Democratic vote.

4. Dallas’ First-Ever Strategic Mobility Plan Ties Land Use to New Transportation Ideas (Planetizen)

Dallas skyline.
Photographer: Matthew T Rader | Source: Unsplash

In Brief

Dallas has released the first draft of its five-year Strategic Mobility Plan, according to James Brasuell of Planetizen. Titled Connect Dallas, the vision document details plans for enhanced transportation programs, land-use, and freight, with the intent of helping the city meet ambitious sustainability, equity, and other goals.

Why We Care

Dallas’ transportation initiative shows significant progress in its aspiration to create more walkable neighborhoods. The city isn’t trying to rid the streets of cars, but ignite a gradual shift toward less car dependence, as the link between walkability and economic efficiency becomes increasingly apparent.

Crafting a concrete plan to develop sustainable and efficient transportation practices will have massive repercussions for a city with a population over 1.3 million (nearly 5.5 times that number comprise the DFW metro area), in a state more known for its oil production than for its eco-friendly practices. And when a leading city, particularly one as sprawling as Dallas, begins to rethink existing systems and plot a green way forward, it creates momentum for other cities, large and small, to follow suit.

5. 4 Major Changes in 2020 That Can Help You Build a Successful Startup in 2021 (Forbes)

Building a successful startup.
Photographer: Gajus | Source: Shutterstock

In Brief

Forbes senior contributor Abdo Riani covers the 2020 market shifts to bear in mind when building a startup in 2021 and beyond. These include a spike in consumer adoption of digital channels, the acceptance of remote work as the new norm, advancements in artificial intelligence, and a growing business interest in sustainability.

Why We Care

Startups contribute tremendously to the economy, accounting for over three million new jobs in 2020 and earning $156 billion. Should the trends and changes outlined by Abdo Riani stick (and we think they will), we’re bound to see significant innovation by startups across all of these fronts, and their piece of the proverbial pie is likely to become at least a little bit larger.

What’s to come is anybody’s guess, but the race to solve the world’s latest challenges and build on the trends of 2020 is sure to produce new revenue streams and once again evolve the definition of modern life in our cities and beyond.

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