Stephen Assink


Stephen Assink is curator and manager of Common Place. He is also a member of the Principal Investigator team for the Thriving Cities Project.

Confronting Climate Change

Reimagining our cities provides us an important opportunity to reconsider the various structures of urban life.

Who Is the Smart City for?

In India's rush to transform, build, and even engineer entire new cities, critics are right to raise concerns about citizenship and access.

The Triumph of the Farmers’ Market

The "sidewalk ballet" of the farmers' market

Why the New Flows of Capital Matter for Cities

Cities are increasingly being eyed by tech companies for their social dynamism and ability to generate innovation. This will have tremendous consequences for the future of society.

Back to the City! Back to the Country!

One of the most salient features of the post–World War II suburb was its localization of the American middle class and its propagation of practices of mass consumption.

Governing for the Common Good

Charlottesville city councilor Kathy Galvin on the challenges of city governance

Snapshots of City Life: Our Top Reads

We at Common Place over the past year read numerous articles on issues facing our cities and communities. Here are our favorite reads.

There Goes the Neighborhood

For Marc J. Dunkelman, the verdict is clear: “The township, in essence, is dying.”

The Village Effect—An Interview With Susan Pinker

A more clever use of technology in cities would bring retired people together, for example, or allow municipalities to know exactly where their aging solo residents live, so that if there’s an environmental disaster such as a heat wave or a flood, teams can reach out to the isolated. The data-crunching can be done digitally, while the reaching-out can be done in person.

The Millennials Are Coming, But Who Cares?

With 80 million—the largest generation ever—leaving home and descending into society, scholars, think tanks, and especially corporations are intent on understanding the inner life of a twenty something. Despite the attention that millennials are garnering, important questions surrounding community engagement are being let out.

The Pursuit to Turn Data Into Action

As most ardent supporters of data will admit, even the most sophisticated indicator needs something more: community buy-in.

Cities, Water, and the Fabric of Sustainability

With the world's population rapidly moving to cities, sustainability issues such as energy, water, and food, will increasingly be urban concerns.

Why Cities Need the Arts: An Interview With Chris Yates—Part 1

An interview with philosopher and artist Chris Yates detailing the importance of art for cities and communities

Is Portland for Slackers? An Interview With Tom Krattenmaker

An interview with Portland-based writer, Tom Krattenmaker concerning the health and future of Portland, OR.

Common Problems with Public Answers: Peter Levine's Call for Civic Renewal

In Peter Levine's new book, he offers guidance and insights for renewing the civic landscape around citizen deliberation and participation.

Architecture and the Built Environment: Talking With William Sherman—Part 2

Interview with Professor William Sherman on the importance of architecture in urban life.

Urban Renewal Syndrome—Part 1

Urban renewal programs, along with the social welfare policies of the Great Society, became a symbol not just of the collapse of urban America but also of the failure of progressive government action—perhaps even of liberalism itself.

Do Cities Tear Us Apart?—Part 2

In part 2 of this series, Andrew Lynn investigates two dominant trends of urban life that will have tremendous consequences for the future of cities.

Snapshots of City Life: Music, Commuter Cycling, and Other Stories

A collection of recent online stories that highlight and examine different facets of city life.

Assessing Urban Complexity: Thriving Cities Conference Recap

Last month, the Thriving Cities Project gathered together practitioners and scholars from around the country for a two day conference to recap and assess research, project goals, and current findings.

The Magic of Mayors?

Noah Toly review of Benjamin Barber's new book If Mayors Rules the World offers critical insight and originality into current discussions regarding the future of urban governance in a globalized world.

Whole Foods in Richmond

Known for its organic, fair-trade, and costly fare, Whole Foods has become a staple as well as a trend-setter in the food industry. Its impending arrival in Richmond highlights important issues and challenges facing the city.

Public Health and the City: Talking With Nisha Botchwey—Part 2

Part 2 of our video interview with Professor Nisha Botchwey, an expert in public health, the built environment, and community engagement.

Do Cities Tear Us Apart?

For a long time, urban sociologists saw cities as culprits of social isolation and fragmentation. Although this view had certain justifications, its shortsightedness of urban life has opened up opportunities for new methods for urban thinking.

Public Health and the City: Talking With Nisha Botchwey—Part 1

A video interview with Professor Nisha Botchwey, an expert in public health, the built environment, and community engagement.

Thriving Cities Featured Again on Milwaukee Public Radio

Thriving Cities investigator, David Flowers, gets featured again by Milwaukee Public Radio.

California's Flyover Country

Though one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, the San Joaquin Valley is now one of the poorest and poorly educated places in the country. Why California’s flyover country's best hope may be to invest in the education of its children.

Snapshots of City Life: Parking Lots, Urban Farming, and Other Stories

A collection of online stories that highlight and examine different facets of city life.

Is Orlando more than just a tourist destination? An interview with Phil Hissom

An interview with Phil Hissom about what it means to be in the shadow of the mouse and how Orlando is emerging on its own terms as a thriving city, much more than just a tourist destination.

Nashville and the Future of Civic Engagement

Transportation debates, like the famed battle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses over a proposed expressway through Manhattan, have historically been a local affair. This may be changing. Recent events in Tennessee show that even a local transportation project with widespread support from citizens across the political spectrum is not immune to the ideological politicization that has gripped our national discourse.

Coming Together: Food and Art in the City

In an era of entrenched urban divisions and diminishing public spaces, food and art can be powerful mediums of connection and unity. A recent conference explored what that looks like.