Episode 20: The Science of Civic Life

Boosting civic satisfaction one planter box at a time in Philadelphia (Photo by Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman)

You know it when you walk by a spruced up front stoop, or walk through a park with plentiful benches — the little design elements make a big difference in our day to day urban lives. Now, thanks to the Center for Active Design, science has shown just how much of an impact these “extras” have on not only how welcome we feel in a place, but also importantly our sense of trust in institutions and overall city satisfaction.

What implications do these findings have on our built environment? How do we apply these principles in an equitable way? And what can we do to ensure that our cities are promoting citizen-led action and prioritizing these small but mighty design elements for everyone? Tune in to hear more about this unprecedented survey, as well as the latest shoutout to #urbanistwomenatwork.

And if you like these conversations and advocating for human-scale cities, you can donate to our unsponsored efforts on our Patreon page at . Thank you to our supporters, and thank you all for listening, sharing, and doing what you do!

As always, you can keep up with our thoughts and send us your comments on Twitter or Instagram: Katrina can be found at Kristen can be found at


Articles referenced in this episode:

Main article from Fast Co Design — Science is proving why urban design matters more than ever:

The original study, the Assembly Civic Engagement Study, from the Center for Active Design:

A briefly mentioned article on Little Free Library controversy:

A proposed (and thankfully retracted) bill on getting approval for civic-minded sidewalk additions in Philadelphia:


Intro and closing music is “Urban Life” by Gustavs Strazdin used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license:

Third Wave Urbanism

A podcast highlighting the new normal of urbanism in our globalized cities, as told by two female urbanists Katrina + Kristen.

Third Wave Urbanism

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A podcast on what we like to call the third wave of livable urbanism in the 21st century as told by two young urbanists Katrina + Kristen.

Third Wave Urbanism

A podcast highlighting the new normal of urbanism in our globalized cities, as told by two female urbanists Katrina + Kristen.