I often ask myself why I am in the real estate planning and development industry. Everyone asks it of his or her particular profession. What do I hope to achieve at the end of the day? I am not always sure. It isn’t the money (well, not only the money). It isn’t the ego, either. So what is it?
I trace it back to 1994 in Madison, Wisconsin. Finals were over, and my first year of college was complete. After a celebratory dinner, I walked out on to State Street as dusk descended over the city. The lights of the State Capitol beaconed at the far end of the street. The thing is, I was dazzled by the street itself. It was so alive. The mood was electric. People were out, mingling, laughing, heading to parties and bars, playing music, lingering in the warm spring evening.
State Street that night, and always, is an example of a great street, a good public place. I learnt that evening that I like urban good places such as State Street, and I want others to experience cities like I do. I simply enjoy cities. I want to improve cities. That is why I got into this. Since that night I have been in search of that magic that only cities can provide.
Alas, I want to introduce Joe Urban. Who is Joe Urban, you ask? One might also ask who was that masked man? I don’t know. I want to find out, though.
I am a mild-mannered writer and real estate market analyst by day, but behind those glasses is Joe Urban, a passionate defender of cities. Joe Urban is my alter ego, if you will. He remembers that fateful evening in Madison, and is looking for that magic in other cities. Joe Urban is an urbanist. Joe Urban is a writer. Joe Urban has traveled far, and has seen what cities can be. Joe Urban comes home and wishes great things for his home in Minneapolis. Joe Urban seeks inspiration from the best urban visionaries. Joe Urban is hope for cities. Joe Urban knows cities are great, but they can be better. Joe Urban knows we can do a better job.
By reading this column and occasionally surfing this website, I hope you will learn something once in a while, but also be entertained and inspired. I hope Joe Urban will help you see your city in a new light, and the immense power we have to affect our built environment. I hope you can hear the music in cities. I hope you are inspired to make your own music in your city.
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