Media Releases

Ep 4. 7 Cities, 7 Voices

May 1, 2015

Sev­en glob­al del­e­gates in Toron­to for the Youth­ful Cities sum­mit share their visions for an ide­al city. Episode also fea­tures Jane’s Walk and an exclu­sive with city coun­cil­lors Michael Thomp­son and Anna Bailão on spaces to explore in their wards.


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The Cities Pod­cast Ep 4 — 7 Cities, 7 Voic­es

(Cof­fee shop sounds)


This is The Cities Pod­cast, I’m Bri­an­na Gold­berg.


I’m here at a cof­fee shop. It’s lunch hour. It’s noisy. But it’s often over food that the best con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen. Mouths and minds open up and dis­cus­sions unfold — it doesn’t mat­ter what cul­ture you’re from, the table is where it hap­pens.


This week in Toron­to, urban enthu­si­asts from all over the world came to Toron­to to talk about how to build ide­al cities – it was part of a sum­mit called Youth­ful Cities.


Fifty stu­dents and young pro­fes­sion­als from around the world joined 50 youth from Toron­to. They talked about lofty things like dynamism and inno­va­tion. They talked about spe­cif­ic things like hous­ing afford­abil­i­ty and chal­lenges stand­ing in the way of youth employ­ment.


And all this while they explored the city togeth­er, going for walk­ing tours of places like 401 Rich­mond, and div­ing into urban pol­i­cy hackathons at places like the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to… over lunch.


I found the group talk­ing over meal­time with cities experts like David Hulchan­s­ki – he’s the geo­g­ra­ph­er behind the con­cept of ‘three Toronto’s. And he was chat­ting with del­e­gates from places as far away as Japan and Aus­tralia.


Deb Cowen was there, too, she does some cool work on social activism, secu­ri­ty and cit­i­zen­ship at U of T. Folks at my table who are mem­bers of Toronto’s Youth Cab­i­net dug into a real­ly inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion with her.


We’ll talk with her and Hulchan­s­ki in episodes a bit fur­ther down the line.


But, back at the Youth­ful Cities lunch, over dessert, my micro­phone and I caught up with some of the glob­al del­e­gates. I want­ed to find out what they hope to see chang­ing in cities like ours… and theirs.


Lat­er in the episode, you’ll catch a quick pod­cast exclu­sive from two city coun­cil­lors. They’ll share their favourite secret cor­ners to explore in Toron­to — per­fect tips for vis­i­tors like the Youth­ful Cities group, or any­one walk­ing through the city this com­ing week­end for Jane’s Walk. More on that in a few min­utes.


But first, the rea­sons why cities-inter­est­ed youth flew, in some cas­es, halfway around the world to talk with each oth­er about build­ing cities over street­cars and side streets… and lunch.


Here are a few of their answers…




Hi, my name is Rowin from Ams­ter­dam, in the Nether­lands. Real­ly small coun­try, 16 mil­lion peo­ple, but we’re all awe­some. And I’m here as a glob­al del­e­gate at the youth­ful cities sum­mit because I real­ly, real­ly, real­ly care about all groups in soci­ety com­ing togeth­er. And in Ams­ter­dam we have a big prob­lem with inte­gra­tion, if you want to call it like that, or seg­re­ga­tion, so how do we bring every­one togeth­er – unit­ed, connected—and how do we make sure that lan­guage learn­ing is num­ber one, that edu­ca­tion is not just a way that forces you into a cer­tain direc­tion but that every­body has the same oppor­tu­ni­ties.


My name is Mari­no, I’m from Rome. I’m pret­ty much involved with envi­ron­men­tal issues. I’ve been work­ing and study­ing a lot about devel­op­ment and the green econ­o­my and recent­ly I’m try­ing to, what I would like to devel­op is that sense of sus­tain­able enter­pris­es. So, enter­pris­es that can at the same time address the needs of youth in terms of employ­ment, the needs of envi­ron­ment in terms of pro­tec­tion, and so cre­ate that sense of love of com­mu­ni­ty – increase the love of com­mu­ni­ty through inter­ac­tion and sus­tain­abil­i­ty.


Hi, I’m Julian, from Ger­many. Orig­i­nal­ly from Ham­burg, now liv­ing in Lon­don. I’m inter­est­ed in cities because I’m trav­el­ing a lot, I’m invest­ing a lot into real estate so that’s obvi­ous­ly, cities is one of the main issues there. And I’m also see­ing the devel­op­ment of megac­i­ties in all the emerg­ing regions so that’s quite inter­est­ing how big pop­u­la­tion growth can facil­i­tate com­plete new infra­struc­ture and new cities. And in Lon­don one of our biggest prob­lems is now short­age of hous­ing. The space is just to dense and peo­ple are begin­ning to move out of the city. So that’s one chal­lenge to be addressed basi­cal­ly in many areas there.


Hi, this is Nilofer, peo­ple call me Nilo. I’m from Sau­di Ara­bia but I’m here rep­re­sent­ing the city of Bangkok. I come from a clin­i­cal back­ground, I’m a doc­tor myself – a new­ly mint­ed doc­tor, don’t get scared. But I’ve crossed over to the side of glob­al health pol­i­cy so right now I’m work­ing in Bangkok on inter­na­tion­al devel­op­ment, specif­i­cal­ly with HIV/AIDS key affect­ed pop­u­la­tions. We’re talk­ing about young trans­gen­der peo­ple, young sex work­ers, young women and girls liv­ing with HIV and those who live in pris­ons. So Bangkok has been my home for a year and I’m real­ly pas­sion­ate about cities. Hav­ing lived in eight cities so far, myself, I would say that cities are a micro­cosm of ener­gy, diver­si­ty, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism that youth bring and there’s lot of inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty between dis­ci­plines, and cities bring all of that dynam­ic togeth­er, so I think it’s inter­est­ing to study that inter­sec­tion.


How’s it going? I’m Aaron Kanz­er, I’m from Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts, Unit­ed States. I used to work in the city tran­sit agency for Boston so I care a lot about mov­ing peo­ple, get­ting from Point A to Point B safe­ly. I guess what I’m most inter­est­ed in with Boston, and fac­ing oth­er cities around the world, how can cities become more proac­tive? As cities become more and more pop­u­lat­ed, how can we cre­ate solu­tions that we won’t get hit in the face with in order to lim­it the inef­fi­cien­cies and try to help cities pros­per and that’s some­thing I’m real­ly con­cerned about. I’m hop­ing to go back to my city and hope­ful­ly inspire some change. I can tell ya, I mean, Boston, the pop­u­la­tion growth is explod­ing, espe­cial­ly com­mut­ing. And they actu­al­ly if you search ‘Boston, trans­porta­tion,’ for this past win­ter, it was prob­a­bly, it was almost, it was a state of emer­gency. The city shut down for days. Eco­nom­ic impact was huge. And every­one start­ed point­ing fin­gers and what came to the con­clu­sion was, no one planned.


My name’s Alex Lim, from South Korea. I’m an entre­pre­neurs major at Bab­son Col­lege. I’ve been tak­ing a few years off col­lege to run an edu­ca­tion com­pa­ny in Korea, called Awe­some School. So we run dif­fer­ent entrepreneurship/changemaker edu­ca­tion pro­grams in Seoul, work­ing with pub­lic mid­dle- and high school stu­dents to encour­age them to find real prob­lems with­in their com­mu­ni­ties and they’re sup­posed to come up with a solu­tion by devel­op­ing a prod­uct, ser­vice or com­pa­ny. I believe in the pow­er of learn­ing by doing, through com­bin­ing entre­pre­neur­ship into edu­ca­tion. And I think those two key urban attrib­ut­es are what makes youth real­ly break out their poten­tials and make it hap­pen. Uber, and all these star­tups, they’re mak­ing a huge dif­fer­ence in the world and I think it’s real­ly impor­tant to give an oppor­tu­ni­ty to these younger peo­ple that are in the pub­lic schools to give it a shot, to learn by doing. And I think those are the over-arch­ing themes for every oth­er urban attribute.


Hi, my name is Elfredah Tet­teh, I’m from Accra, Ghana, but I live here in Ottawa because I’m in school at Car­leton. I’m very inter­est­ed in cities because I’m very involved in the arts scene back at home. Been work­ing with artists for a while and I’m always try­ing to find ways to make art a big­ger part of every­day life in Ghana, how to get them prop­er recog­ni­tion. I feel that arts and cul­ture is very impor­tant, it’s a very impor­tant part of a youth­ful city espe­cial­ly.





Those were just a few of the 50 glob­al del­e­gates in Toron­to this week as part of the Youth­ful Cities sum­mit.


They gath­ered here because last year Toron­to ranked as the num­ber one youth­ful city in the world.


And if you’re hop­ing to be more youth­ful in your city, this week­end is a great time to do it. It marks the annu­al Jane’s Walk week­end, a fes­ti­val of cit­i­zen-led walk­ing tours in hon­our of Jane Jacobs. She was an urban­ist who lived in Toron­to and cham­pi­oned city build­ing led by com­mu­ni­ties.


So on May 1, 2, and 3 in cities from here to New York and beyond, indi­vid­u­als who love their com­mu­ni­ties are tak­ing groups for free guid­ed walks around their neigh­bour­hood.


Some tours focus on green roofs, some are about the best hid­ing places, some are about poet­ry… track one down in a neigh­bour­hood you’d like to explore by going to


This was on my mind when I vis­it­ed the Glob­al Cities Insti­tute a few weeks ago. I was there for a ses­sion on para-diplo­ma­cy with pro­fes­sors and pol­i­cy mak­ers from Toron­to and aca­d­e­mics from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sao Pao­lo. And after­wards, I found myself wait­ing for an ele­va­tor with city coun­cil­lor Michael Thomp­son, from Scar­bor­ough, and city coun­cil­lor Anna Bailao, from Dav­en­port elec­toral dis­trict.


I asked them to quick­ly share their top sug­ges­tions for places to explore on a week­end like this one in their ward.


Here’s what they had to say…




So, Diana’s seafood, it’s in the ward, at the War­den and Lawrence area. In the past it was a donut shop that we used to have a lot of prob­lems with and we had a fish shop that was next door. So, con­vinced the own­er to buy the prop­er­ty and turn it into a major seafood restau­rant. And it has amaz­ing food and peo­ple from all around the city actu­al­ly go there and actu­al­ly eat. So that’s one of my favourite places. And then, Scar­bor­ough Bluffs, of course.




Mine, I have, behind the Nes­tle fac­to­ry on Ster­ling road, there’s a her­itage build­ing, it used to be the auto­mo­tive tow­er. And we’re actu­al­ly rede­vel­op­ing, revi­tal­iz­ing that whole neigh­bour­hood and we’re bring­ing res­i­den­tial employ­ment, a day­care, a park. There’s a brew­ery going in there, arts facil­i­ties going in there, and just going in there and know­ing that we’re approv­ing all that and that it’s com­ing, it’s real­ly excit­ing. So the tow­er is gor­geous. You go inside and the tow­er has a won­der­ful view and we’ve actu­al­ly pro­tect­ed it to be always the tallest build­ing in that neigh­bour­hood but also all the work that is being done around it, that’s the excit­ing part.




It’s spring, it’s Jane’s Walk week­end, and now you don’t have any excuse – it’s time to get out from the cof­fee shop and dis­cov­er your city anew. Pre­tend you’re like the youth­ful cities glob­al del­e­gates, see­ing your neigh­bour­hood for the first time.


(Tran­si­tion from cof­fee shop sounds to out­door sounds)


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Thanks to Jay Fer­gu­son for the music you heard in this episode.


The Cities Pod­cast is pro­duced by me, Bri­an­na Gold­berg, with help from U of T News edi­tor, Jen­nifer Lan­thi­er.


Thanks for lis­ten­ing.