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Nov 03 2020 - 02:00 PM
2020 Vision: Strength In Cities (and Elections)

Across the city New Yorkers stand eager and compliant -- masked, separated by six feet, and determined to make it all count, correctly. As voters head to the polls in what may be cast the Election Of The Century, we take stock: 7:30am and already a neighborly wait with relatively long lines up the block. We move slowly towards the school, like inchworms to a leafy field in Autumn. Steady pace, punctuated by brief conversation and hopeful thinking -- to better, healthier, perhaps more hallowed ground -- in what has been a record period of devastating global pandemic, political protest over racial injustice, and arguable media monopoly. A crop of young volunteers, helpful, courteous, and appreciative, confirms district numbers and ushers us in to booths and scanners -- so simple a process, despite the long campaign and complex anticipation. Averaging a two-to-three hour wait, the last general election brought strong voting lines, without the benefit of early voting or expanded absentee ballots; 2020 so far does not fall short of vigor and toughness among our civic democracy, come what may. We see planned election parties, post election meetings, and other "management" round ups at home and work -- signs of support and solidarity, as storefronts and apartment buildings board up their windows, shuttering off potential unrest from an election that impacts the future of our country and world.

The significance of voting comes round to Everett Cafe, home to a curated book collection every few weeks that relates to current affairs, education, or learning environments. Drawing upon diverse perspectives -- architects, ecologists, educators, historians, researchers, scientists, urban planners, and more -- Strength in Cities: Lessons From the Urban Landscape focuses on cities as a model for resilience, from how they learn, to what they can teach us.

The urban landscape changes when unintended events occur, due to weather, disease, disaster, terrorism, or other happenings. As a result of the environment in which it finds itself, a city adapts and transforms -- often leading to welcome, safe, and positive change for its inhabitants. Boulders in parks, more bike lanes, roof gardens, rooftop generators, community gardens, and increased outdoor dining (the latest a consequence of global pandemic) are visible examples of urban adaptations that create healthier lifestyles and ultimately serve to bring people closer together, despite environmental and social issues and/or political and economic crisis.

Large cities across the world, including New York, London, Paris, Beijing, and Mexico City, more than ever share wide-ranging concerns, yet also proven successes in facing the unplanned. Like campuses, or sites where colleges or universities reside, they are learning environments that shape growth and change.

Strength in Cities: Lessons From the Urban Landscape is on display through November. Vote, stay safe, sensible, and focused.


  • Poster, Strength in Cities, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries
  • I Voted NYC Sticker, Courtesy of ArtNet News