Three ways to make cities work for all

What makes a city accessible and sustainable for all its residents? Inspired by the book The New Urban Crisis by professor Richard Florida of the University of Toronto, we have selected three ways to make cities work for all. The selection is based on our experience as wanderers and researchers in cities and their connection to the migrants’ population.

Why the interest in the three ways to make cities work for all?

In 2012 I left London to produce the documentary (IN)VISIBLE CITIES (so far shot in four cities: Cardiff, Los Angeles, New York and Istanbul). The initial idea was to interview Sub-Saharan African migrants from specific neighborhoods to:

  1. Connect with my African roots

  2. Prove there is more to African migration than desperation, boats and stereotypes

Unexpectedly, (IN)VISIBLE CITIES led to a third road: as we travelled in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, New York, Cardiff and Istanbul I commenced to observe and reflect on the urban scenario and the available structures for migrants residents: how is public transport managed? is the aesthetic of the place appealing? were there enough community spaces?

The relevance of the urban space on the social cohesion of migrants and local communities is often underrated. But recent research has shown cities needs to be prepared to adequate their space to new communities. The New Urban Crisis widely deals with metropolis and focuses on the increasing inequality that divides theses cities. To tell it in the words of Florida: “The New Urban Crisis is not just a crisis of cities, but of our new age of highly urbanized knowledge-based capitalism” (Florida, 2017 p.xiv). Despite this, the book reveals three ways to make cities for all, migrants included.

Three Ways to Make cities work for all

It is said in The New Urban Crisis: “to solve a crisis this deep and systematic, we must put cities and urbanism at the very centre of our agenda for economic prosperity” (Florida, 2017 p. 204). Three ways to do that are:

  1. Invest in the infrastructure for density and growth

It is shown that neighborhoods with access to public transports are also closer to job placements and thus opportunities to grow. One issue for the migrants’ communities in Los Angeles was the territorial dispersion and unavailability of public transports that affects the city and therefore the ability to connect with their own communities. READ When It Comes to Bad Urban Traffic, Los Angeles Leads The World

  1. Tackle poverty by investing in people and places

Schools should be the bigger receivers of funds, especially in the US, based on Florida’s opinion. However, Europe as well needs to create better investments in community places that will otherwise fail. READ Butetown History and Arts Centre to close its doors

  1. Empower cities and communities

Cities are at the center of development, diversity and tolerance and as such they need to be given the power to decide. As well as politics, communities need to be empowered and listened to. Our journey unveiled that oftentimes integration policies and projects were implemented with no regards of the local communities. WATCH (IN)VISIBILE CITIES mini-series on Liberian enclave in Houston

What other stories and good practices on ways to make cities work for all do you know? Write us at and join our Facebook Group on Migrants and the City.

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