I’m taking a break from regular programming to announce an offshoot of this newsletter that launches today: a subscribers-only weekly installment that explores cities and urbanism-adjacent issues in greater depth.
The secret of my current Friday newsletter is that it’s not really about cities, even if that’s how I usually describe it to others; my guiding principle has been to write the best possible 750 words on whatever I’m thinking about during a given week, within a loosely-defined range, and that frequently does include urbanism, but often just indirectly. Which is all to say: I want to write about cities more, and I want to give that writing its own place.
The best reason to create something is because you want to see it in the world but it doesn’t already exist, and I often find myself pining for urbanism essays that nobody else is writing. One reason I try to avoid the term “urban planning” (despite having a master’s degree in it) is that most urban planning isn’t actually done by urban planners, but rather by a multitude of other industries from finance to tech to real estate—which is why I seem to end up writing about those industries as much as my own field. The best urbanist writing recognizes this, but I believe there’s still a shortage of it. As a reader as well as a writer, meanwhile, I’ve noticed a huge appetite for understanding cities in general that extends far beyond the limits of the professionally interested. We’re all currently living through the most turbulent and fascinating phase of urban change in recent memory, and the future of cities is less certain than ever but no less critical. There’s a lot of chaotic information coming our way and an urgent need to process and interpret it—an effort to which this newsletter will hopefully contribute.
I’ll begin sending this new issue to subscribers mid-next week. Nothing about the Friday newsletter will change—it will keep going out as is, and it will still be free. Like I said, the subscriber-only pieces will be longer-form explorations of specific topics involving cities, and paid subscriptions will enable me to spend more time researching and writing them. My favorite newsletter, Matt Levine’s Money Stuff, is one source of inspiration for the format and overall vibe, if you’re trying to understand how I’m approaching this. Subscriptions will cost $5/month or $50/year, but are 20% off if you sign up before the end of August during the “beta” period. Think of that as the price of one restaurant meal you didn’t get to eat in 2020.
We’re all stakeholders in cities to some degree, whether we live in one or not. Regardless of what your relationship to the urban environment is, I think you’ll find this relevant, but even if not, feel free to pass this along to someone you think might be. You can subscribe using the button below. And even if you don’t subscribe but still want to help me out, feel free to share this (you can even just retweet this).
One other reason I’m using the paid subscription model for this expanded offering is to give you an easy way not to receive it, if you happen to be content with one short email a week from me. I’ve always felt that it’s an enormous privilege to publish anything and actually have someone spend time reading it. It’s an even greater privilege to email that writing directly to a bunch of people’s inboxes. I’ve maintained the format of my newsletter somewhat obsessively over the past three years because I’m aware of that unspoken agreement between myself and all of you, and if I’m going to start sending more emails, I’d rather you opt in than have to opt out.
So, thanks for your support! We’ll be back on the normal program next week.