Urban Landscapes

EditedPittsburghBuildings
Buildings in the Cultural District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Cities are by far my favorite spaces to explore. I like to observe their design and development, and watch how people behave. A city’s transportation system, housing options, marketplaces, and public art tells the story of how much human ingenuity and quality of life are measured and valued.

Inside the Crocker Art Museum
Art gallery in Sacramento, California. 

As I explore each new city I visit, I imagine what it would feel like as a daily experience to live in that place. I might not survive life in some cities. Sofia, Bulgaria, felt like a bleak and challenging existence. The sidewalks were uneven, food was scarce, and few trees blocked pedestrians from blistering environmental extremes. Meanwhile, I fell in love with Budapest, Hungary, immediately. The public transit system was clean, affordable, and effortless; public markets, fruit stalls, and smaller convenience stores were abundant; the people were friendly and open; and somehow I quickly picked up the basic phrases of the notoriously difficult Hungarian language.

Communist Party HQ
Communist Party Headquarters, Sofia, Bulgaria. 

I am attracted to energy, movement, and growth. I am attracted to spaces that feel vibrant and alive with positive possibilities. These stories are stories of urban environments I visit that awaken and ignite my hope for humanity’s future. Many are inspired by conversations with locals I meet while traveling, and of course it is easier to build those connections when we share a common language.

Quito Street
City street and sidewalk in Quito, Ecuador. 

Although I have traveled through South America, I didn’t get the opportunity to meet many English-speaking locals. Unfortunately my perspective was limited. However, Europe, Canada, and the United States are home to plenty of English-speaking locals: a young Bulgarian man from Turkey who was in studying business at a university in Ljubljana; a Croatian woman who shared her table with me as we watched sunset over the Adriatic Sea; a 14th generation Budapestian who escorted me through an overwhelmingly crowded, five story Ruin Pub; and both my host and a Couchsurfing-connection-turned-friend in Sarajevo. When we have finished moving through this current pandemic and the border closures, I look forward to venturing back out into the world and learning more from the people who gather in the cities.

The Bean
“Cloud Gate” in Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois. 
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