We are an independent, nonprofit publication reporting on solution-driven urban activism to ignite networks of action in cities around the world.

 

A letter from the founder:
Why I started The Urban Activist

I never harbored a desire to write, yet at some point I felt the urgency. After almost 15 years working in the corporate finance world, I understood one thing: companies operate based on business strategies that affect a global citizenry, and yet do not act in the public’s best interest. And I was not (and am still not) convinced that even governments can fully compensate for that hard truth and solve the world’s most pressing issues. It is us – each of us – who must act. We all have agency, which bears gifts only if we use it.

Cities have always been magnets for immensely talented people whose humanity outshines even their ambitions. Many fascinating individuals in the most unexpected places have been waging battles on countless issues that affect us all. They have engaged in struggles as diverse as human rights, unfair wages, sexual discrimination, environmental justice, etc.

Often, these people do not fall into the profile of the advocate or the protester; rather, they come up with concrete solutions to the challenges on their doorstep–and they fight for them. These are the people the public needs to know about.

While there is extensive reporting on CEOs’ strategies, businesses’ solutions, governments’ decisions and politics, there is little reporting on these important actors in our midst.

I founded The Urban Activist to fill this void.

Reporting on local movements, grassroots groups, activists and advocates, narrows the disconnect amongst researchers, decision-makers, policy-makers, government officials, and the local citizens they ostensibly serve, among others. When diverse voices are excluded, it limits the discussion and reinforces the mainstream views. And this is true everywhere. I believe that a story out of New York can inspire action in Nairobi. What is effective in Buenos Aires could also work in Berlin.

I am also aware that Rome was not built in a day, and it takes time to build this new kind of journalism. Shifting the narrative of what Western cities are and can be, is an important part of our publication. We report on the boldness and innovation of people in far flung places, who are facing multifarious issues and taking them head on, in often remarkable ways.

As a publisher, I do my best to avoid any power imbalance between the journalist and the storyteller being interviewed. We want to do justice to any story we print, always with journalistic independence.

I am honored that some of our articles have so far contributed to many positive changes: activists’ work being supported by nonprofit organizations, harmful city decisions being reversed, and activists and organizations uniting to exercise more power with their causes, to name a few.

As the world gets increasingly urbanized, I believe using journalism to encourage public engagement is crucial. It puts much of the power to make change in the hands of the people; it strengthens democracies.

 

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE POLICY

We operate as a nonprofit retaining full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic interests of our organisation. To keep our publication free of ads, and to avoid charging you for our content, this growing platform relies on grants and partnerships with non-profit organisations for our funding. But we will cede no right of review, influence or unauthorised distribution of editorial content.

We are grateful to the people who make our work possible, and readers like you. Specially, we’d like to thank The Puffin Foundation for their support of this project.

Logo The Puffin Foundation


Susana Fernández Molina is Founder and Editor-at-Large of The Urban Activist. You can learn more about me in my Linkedin profile.

If you are a writer and are interested in contributing to our journalistic work, pitch me anytime at askusanything@theurbanactivist.com.

Contributors

Allison Gutwillinger

Allison Gutwillinger

Allison Gutwillinger edits for The Urban Activist. She received her academic degrees from UC Berkeley and the University of Oxford, then went on to teach literature and writing. She was a Lecturer at Columbia University and an Adjunct Professor at Yale University.

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Allison Gutwillinger

Allison Gutwillinger edits for The Urban Activist. She received her academic degrees from UC Berkeley and the University of Oxford, then went on to teach literature and writing. She was a Lecturer at Columbia University and an Adjunct Professor at Yale University.

Allison has also spent time in the corporate world, working for global consultancies in the areas of strategic communication and employee engagement, and spearheading a department of Corporate Social Responsibility. Her clients include numerous blue-chip companies and governmental organizations in the US, the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

Having earned a certification in Psychotherapy and Counseling at Regent’s College London, Allison currently works in the field of Positive Psychology, including the emerging discipline of Happiness Studies. And she is a happy urbanite: having grown up in Los Angeles, she has lived in San Francisco, New York, London, Dubai, and now Munich, where she currently resides with her three sons.

Chisara Asomugha

Chisara Asomugha

.chisaraokwu. is an award-winning Igbo poet, writer and healthcare futurist. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and MacDowell Fellow. Her trans-disciplinary approach to poetry explores ritual, trauma and healing in Africa and its diaspora. She is a retired physician and proud alum of Stanford University.

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Chisara Asomugha

.chisaraokwu. (she/her) is an award-winning Igbo poet, writer and healthcare futurist. Her writings have appeared in literary and academic journals including Obsidian, Cutthroat, Cider Press Review, PANK, midnight&indigo, Glass, Transition, The Washington Post, and The New England Journal of Medicine. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and MacDowell Fellow. Her trans-disciplinary approach to poetry explores ritual, trauma and healing in Africa and its diaspora. She is a retired physician and proud alum of Stanford University.

Hannah Fenster

Hannah Fenster

Hannah Fenster is a writer and dancer in Baltimore, MD, where she is the Events Manager at The Ivy Bookshop. Her writing appears in Lumina, The Shallow Ends, Entropy, and elsewhere.

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Hannah Fenster

Hannah Fenster is a writer and dancer in Baltimore, MD, where she is the Events Manager at The Ivy Bookshop. Her writing appears in Lumina, The Shallow Ends, Entropy, and elsewhere. She is a former educator at Goucher College and likes making things with other people, most recently with the Baltimore immersive theatre collective Submersive Productions.

Jennifer Hope Davy

Jennifer Hope Davy is an artist, editor and writer based in Berlin. She is currently working on a novel based in Oklahoma, playing with Franz Kafka’s Nature Theatre of Oklahoma (Amerika) and the modern history of Oklahoma as a reflective microcosm for contemporary “America,” which she began as a Tulsa Artist Fellow (2017-2019). Davy received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and her PhD from the European Graduate School|EGS. Working across disciplines, her practice centers on the politics and potentiality of perception and interruption, mediating between cognition and visibility. Recently she had the privilege to assist editing After 1921: Notes from Tulsa’s Black Wall Street and Beyond edited by Crystal Z Campbell and her book, Staging Aporia: putting together impossible things, critical encounters with art and theory, was just published by Passagen Verlag.

Johannes Novy

Johannes Novy

Johannes Novy is an urban planner and works as Senior Lecturer and Course Director of the MA Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Westminster in London.

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Johannes Novy

Johannes Novy is an urban planner and works as Senior Lecturer and Course Director of the MA Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Westminster in London. He holds a PhD in Urban Planning from Columbia University, New York, and researches and teaches on a range of issues including urban development and urban tourism and their interaction as well as urban conflicts and protests.

Laura Scherling, Ed.D.

Laura Scherling Ed.D. is designer, researcher, and educator. She is a director and lecturer at Columbia University and the co-editor of Ethics in Design and Communication
and the new open access book Digital Transformation in Design. Scherling is also the co-founder of the design and sustainability organization GreenspaceNYC and their annual lab Civic Art Lab.

Maha Sano

Maha Sano

Maha Sano is Producer and Entrepreneur in Cultural and Creative industries with over fifteen years experience in delivering Moroccan theatre, street art and photography projects.

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Maha Sano

Maha Sano is Producer and Entrepreneur in Cultural and Creative industries with over fifteen years experience in delivering Moroccan theatre, street art and photography projects. She is the author of the play “Dialy” who challenges the taboo of female sexuality.
She is also the founder of Association Badira CCD for preserving and digitizing moroccan cultural heritage, and co-founder of Marocopedia, a digital platform that presents shorts documentary about Moroccan cultural heritage.
Maha is quadrilingual (Arabic, Japanese, French and English) and is committed to the cultural development of Morocco and inclusive access to education and information.

Sara Grossman

Sara Grossman

Based between London and Berlin, Sara Grossman attended UC Berkeley, majoring in Political Economy. Currently she works with policy think tanks, arts & culture institutions, and the organization Othering & Belonging Institute on equity and justice issues.

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Sara Grossman

I’m the proud product of LA public schools, where I discovered my love of writing, politics, and current affairs. After graduating high school, I attended UC Berkeley, majoring in Political Economy (officially) and journalism (non-officially, but after spending 10 hours a day / six days a week in the newsroom, I think it counts!). Although I planned to become a journalist after graduating (and was lucky to hone my skills as an intern at major media outlets like CNN), my plans changed during senior year when I joined the Othering & Belonging Institute, a then-newly inaugurated think tank at the University of California working on equity and justice issues. Although I started as a student editorial fellow, I have continued to grow with the Institute from my new home(s) in Europe, and now manage major digital campaigns and long-term comms projects for OBI.

In addition to my work with the Institute, I have produced editorial projects for a number of cause-driven organisations in Europe and the UK. During my time in Berlin, I also co-founded Angles, a collective of artists and writers who told stories about the many ways life is lived in the city today. You can still view our work on Instagram.

Simone Egger

Simone Egger

Simone Egger is a cultural anthropologist from Munich, Germany. She is a professor for European anthropology in the German city of Saarbrücken.

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Simone Egger

Simone Egger is a cultural anthropologist from Munich, Germany. She is a professor for European anthropology in the German city of Saarbrücken. Transformations in urban societies are main topics of her research that is often located at the interface of art and science.

Valeria Schiller

Valeria Schiller

Valeria Schiller is a Ukrainian curator, art historian and art critic living now in Berlin. Before the war in Ukraine, she taught art history at the Kyiv Academy of Media Arts. Currently, she works at artslooker.com as an editor-in-chief, an online media about contemporary art.

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Valeria Schiller

Valeria Schiller — born 1994. Art historian, curator, author and editor of texts. From 2016 to 2018 she had been working in the archive of the PinchukArtCentre`s Research Platform, in 2019 — as a Junior Curator of the PinchukArtCentre and a Curatorial Team Member at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre. Since 2019 she has been teaching art history at the Kyiv Academy of Media Arts. Currently, she works at the online media about contemporary art artslooker.com as an editor-in-chief.

Vivienne Marquart

Vivienne Marquart

Vivienne Marquart is a social and cultural anthropologist interested in urbanity, migration, and the various forms of memory and remembrance. She gained her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

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Vivienne Marquart

Vivienne Marquart is a social and cultural anthropologist interested in urbanity, migration, and the various forms of memory and remembrance. She gained her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, doing research in Istanbul (Turkey) on the construction and contestation of cultural heritage, focusing especially on UNESCO World Heritage.

Yasmeen Abdallah

Yasmeen Abdallah

Yasmeen Abdallah is an interdisciplinary artist, independent curator, educator, and activist. Her work is featured in public, private, and traveling collections in the U.S. and abroad. She works with several nonprofits and educational institutions in the arts, education and curatorial sectors.

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Yasmeen Abdallah

Yasmeen Abdallah is an interdisciplinary artist, independent curator, educator, and activist. Her work is featured in public, private, and traveling collections in the U.S. and abroad. Her approach compounds the political and personal, exploring socially-engaged issues and unpacking the complexities entangled within humanity. She works with several nonprofits and educational institutions in the arts, education and curatorial sectors. She graduated magna cum laude with honors from University of Massachusetts in 2013, and received an MFA with distinction from Pratt Institute in 2015. Abdallah has been a visiting artist, guest critic, lecturer, and panelist at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University Teaching College, Parsons School for Design, Pratt Institute, Fairleigh Dickinson University, University of Massachusetts, Free City Radio, El Barrio Artspace PS109, Art Uncovered, Talking Pictures, Bust Magazine, and Transborder Art.