City Talk



Follow the conversation on Twitter.

#citytalk frequently reaches in excess of 2 million Twitter users, with hundreds of tweets shared from contributors on every continent.

Collaborators to date: Berkeley Group / Social Life / Transport for All / BMW Guggenheim Lab / Siemens / New Cities Foundation / Ecobici / European Cyclists’ Federation / Philips Livable Cities / City of Cape Town / Woolworths / Asia Dialogue


A tweetchat is just like any other discussion, except it happens on Twitter! If you’re already on Twitter, simply login at the designated time, follow the #CityTalk hashtag, and make sure you include the hashtag in your tweets if you want to join in. If you aren’t on Twitter you can sign up here to join the discussion, or you can follow the discussion without joining Twitter by clicking this link.

The date, time and topic of each discussion will be published on this page, or you can follow @thisbigcity and @futurecapetown for updates.

City Talk 1.0: The economics of sustainable cities: Money is tight in today’s cities. We’ve lived with challenges of the ‘current economic climate’ for so long now that it should probably be renamed ‘the economic climate’, and, for some cities at least, sustainability seems to come with a price tag beyond their budgets and no guarantee of economic growth.

City Talk 2.0: The changing face of housing co-hosted by Kasey KlimesSomewhere in the tangle of urbanization, workforce mobility, housing affordability, gentrification, land use efficiency, transit access, economic opportunity and neighborhood social networks lies your bed. Yes, your bed. Where you sleep. From the moment you open your eyes there, your particular housing situation controls each and every lever of these variables.

City Talk 3.0: Urban Identity with Philips Livable Cities: Are you your city? Not the usual question one might ask, but in a way, we are all part of our cities, for without citizens, they would not be what they are. The identity of a city bears on the identity of its citizens, and vice versa.

City Talk 4.0: Cycling and Cities with Ecobici and ECF: The bicycle is a key component in creating sustainable cities. In fact, encouraging bicycle use seems like a total no-brainer to many of those whose work, studies, or just general interest points them in the direction of sustainable urbanism.

City Talk 5.0: Future Cities with the New Cities Foundation: The concept or idea of a New or Future City can be unsettling, perhaps even unappealing. One begins to imagine Koolhaas’s description of the Generic City, “a city of 15 million inhabitants, in or near the tropics, with high-rise apartments, low rise slums and post modern architecture by unknown 100-strong practices.”

City Talk 6.0: Jobs, Energy and Cities with Siemens AG: Seven critical issues will be at the forefront of discussions and receive ‘priority attention’ at the upcoming Rio+20 Summit. The broad range of issues on the agenda includes decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.

City Talk 7.0: The Digital City with BMW Guggenheim Lab: There’s no looking back for cities as technology gets smaller, cheaper, and more advanced. The Digital City produces data at an astonishing pace, with citizen interactions rarely happening without a smartphone in hand. But is this vision reality?

City Talk 8.0: Olympic Cities: The Olympic Games leave behind an indelible mark on any host city, and even those cities that have just bid for the Games. In most host cities, this mark is a combination of good and bad legacies tied into the city’s fabric and future. In some former Olympic host cities, more bad than good. But no one story defines the journey an Olympic host city takes in bidding for, planning, hosting and living in the aftermath of the Games.

City Talk 9.0: Accessible Cities co-hosted by Transport for All

Cities are rightly celebrated for being diverse areas where people of different abilities and cultures can co-exist. However, creating accessible cities through spaces and experiences for residents and visitors with wildly different abilities can be difficult. With London gearing up to welcome millions of people to the city for a second round of sporting spectacle, we thought it was the ideal time to host a #citytalk tweetchat about urban accessibility.

City Talk 10.0: Building socially sustainable communities for the future supported by Berkeley Groupand Social Life

If sustainability was a family, social sustainability would be the black sheep. Environmental and economic sustainability are both enormous concepts with many different contributing elements, but social sustainability trumps them both with its complexity, subjectivity, and difficult-to-put-your-finger-on-it…ity.

City Talk 11.0: How Cities Move with special guest Brett Herron, Mayco Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater in Cape Town

Last year, the Earth’s population passed the 7 billion mark, with about 50% of those people living in cities. While both global population and urbanisation rates have been estimated to rise, of greater significance is that roughly 75% of people will live in cities by 2050. How might this affect the way we move around urban areas in the future? Cities (especially developing cities that are likely to experience the largest boom and strain) will need to think of smarter and more efficient means of transporting citizens.

City Talk 12.0: Apocalypse urbanism

What to do when shops close in cities as a result of economic challenges? Find a new way to fill them. What about dealing with inadequate municipal governments? Engage citizens to provide the services they want. Cities are always changing, but a couple of things seem to remain constant: there will be challenges, and there will be ways to overcome those challenges. The future, just like the past, will be challenging. We can see many of these challenges coming, others may take us by surprise. Cities at their best can be fantastic places to live, but at their worst… do we truly know?

City Talk 13.0: Food and the City

This Big City and Future Cape Town hosted our first #citytalk tweetchat of 2013 last week, looking at Food and the City, which, after much discussion certainly provided food for thought. The importance of the topic was once again highlighted at the Rio +20 summit last June, where food security was listed as one of the 7 critical issues that needed to be addressed by the summit. (We had previously covered other critical issues i.e. jobs, energy and sustainable cities) The discussions were once again constructive and fast-paced, with ideas ranging from the complexities of food security, to food wastage, the contextual importance of urban farming and even the traditional dishes with which some cities are associated with.

City Talk 14.0: Recession Cities

Our cities and towns are the engines driving economic growth and account for almost 80 percent of the world’s GDP. But if cities are engines of growth, then they are also significantly affected by a recession – when previously high growth becomes negative growth over consistent time periods.

How cities, including citizens, governments, and businesses adapt or collapse has come into sharp focus in the last few years, as riots, drastic spending cuts and policy changes unravel and play out in the streets of cities across the world.

#Cityheritage: Reusing Urban Spaces and Places

After hosting 13 successful #citytalk tweetchats with various collaborators, we engage in our first ever tweetchat mashup with Sarah Heffern and Kayla Jonas Galvin from the #builtheritage chat. Suitably, we called it #cityheritage and our topic of discussion was building reuse – the act of finding new purposes for old buildings that no longer fulfil the function they were originally designed for.

City Talk 15.0: Business & Sustainability

What role can businesses play in creating a more sustainable society? When we introduced the topic of Business and Sustainability for our recent #CityTalk and were approached by Justin Smith, Head of Woolworths Good Business Journey to co-host the tweetchat, we took it as a sign that business was willing to play its role in being proactive in addressing sustainability challenges. But, with so many sustainability challenges and opportunities, facing business – and in fact society as a whole – it was clear that we needed to bring citizens from around the world into the conversation.

City Talk 16.0: Transforming Cities with Transit

Transform Kansas City is an initiative which aims to encourage discussion about the opportunities of rail transit and facilitate input in the development of a more sustainable built environment. One way they are achieving this is through a call for ideas, asking people to submit their ideas for how rail transit can be used to change the city for the better. Inspired by this project, we’ve decided to host our next #citytalk tweetchat on the topic of ‘transforming cities with transit’.

City Talk 17.0: Building Resilient Cities

Cities have always been faced with uncertainty. By their nature, the people, built environment and many other facets that make up a city are always at risk, regardless of the scale. Understanding these risks, and knowing how to prepare for them, or at least to mitigate them, requires diverse approaches. This #CityTalk in partnership with Asia Development Dialogue looked at exactly this.

City Talk 18.0: Designing Better Cities

Our cities are in a constant process of being designed. Whether directly, by professionals or government or indirectly by communities, the decisions citizens make and even cultural events. With cities facing rapid urbanisation, design and design thinking has a leading role to play if we are to understand how we can design our cities to not only accommodate more people, but to do so in a sustainable way. A way which supports the economy, and leverages this opportunity, rather than collapsing under its burden and challenges.

City Talk 19.0: Failed Cities

There is much talk about cities these days. Everything seems to have an urban element attached to it and increasingly exciting debates about the direction of cities are all around. In short, we are tackling how to overcome urban challenges as humans settle in cities and hence paving the direction towards the future. However and on a less talked about note, we hear little about those places that are no longer talked about, those cities that do not figure within the agenda of the years to come. These cities are known as failed cities; urban areas that have not endured the test of time for economic, social, cultural or environmental reasons.

City Talk 20.0: Fixing Transport 

Our cities are constantly evolving. As our nations urbanise, and our cities become larger, the urban fabric becomes more complex, and so transport infrastructure, existing and new, must anticipate this and promote a better quality life for all.

City Talk 21.0: Urban Nature 

Green Cities, New Urbanism, urban agriculture, and so goes the list. All as if cities were strangers to their natural environments, when cities have been tied historically to nature ever since antiquity; there would have not been a Babylon without the Fertile Crescent or New York without the Hudson In fact, the existence of cities today is closely related to its surrounding and, in some cases, its lost natural environments, which have been eclipsed by the rapid urbanisation rates of the industrial revolution and the 20th century.

City Talk 22.0: Start-up Cities

Across the world, cities are dubbed as places of opportunity. Part of this opportunity rests with the possibility of starting a business and becoming self-sustaining rather than relying on an employer. And from this, making a living and creating more jobs.


There are 6 comments

  1. Building Resilient Cities: Our Next #citytalk | This Big City

    […] Join Future Cape Town and This Big City, during our next #citytalk tweetchat in partnership with the Asia Development Dialogue on 19 July at 7PM BST/8PM CEST/2PM EDT. We will seek to unpack the topic of resilience from a number of angles, supporting  a more collective understanding of resilience, but at the same time sharing best-case examples from around the world. […]

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