Thriving Cities

strategy + writing + design + video


Is your city thriving? Now that's a loaded question. We love loaded questions.


Take our hometown of Portland, Oregon. Awesome restaurants, but gentrification. Cool new buildings, but high rents. Fancy jobs for some, homelessness for others. 


Thriving is complicated (and disproportionate).


"That's because cities are ecologies," said Joshua J. Yates and his team of researchers at the University of Virginia. "Human ecologies."




"Human experience is increasingly urban, guys. More of us are migrating to cities than ever before. This means that cities are central to the promises and challenges we face as a species."

What happens when Humans flip ecosystems?    Image credit: thank you,  United Nations

What happens when Humans flip ecosystems?

Image credit: thank you, United Nations


We knew rural to urban migration patterns had been shifting for years, but we'd never really considered what the shift means. At Josh's invitation, we took a deeper dive.


The core question for the urban animal: What does it take to make our new human ecology thrive?


Talk about about a loaded question! And the answers, as we learned from Josh, weren't easy to unpack. But they were fascinating.

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Changing demographics

The problem was not that more white people were moving to an historically black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon—e.g. North Williams Avenue. The problem was that only after the white people moved in, did the city begin to finally fund long-needed infrastructure. Subsequently, the rising home prices pushed out black homeowners in this once vibrant African American community.


Another question began to emerge. How could we distill a groundbreaking, highly complex idea for a broader audience—moving the spirit of Josh's research beyond academia and into the public eye?


"This is too important to be lost in a conference paper."


This is what we said when we realized what Thriving Cities could do for municipal leaders, community organizers, and plain old citizens like us.  


We made it our mission to


Capture what Thriving Cities is all about


Explain how its approach is unlike anything else


Demonstrate why that difference matters so much today


And look damn good while doing it


After eight weeks of intense collaboration, we had our outcome. A 10-minute animated video that streamlines years of research without reducing any of its essence. Textbook distillation. Ready-made for the lecture hall, the public talk, the fundraising event. 


The video has been our most important communications element and it continues to be a huge asset for us.
— Joshua J. Yates, Research Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia


In partnership with Sincerely Truman.