IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs to host NPR Cities Project editor and urban designer

  • Nov. 5, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two top contributors to National Public Radio reports on urban issues will present a program at Indiana University on how cities worldwide are preparing for climate change and natural disasters.

NPR senior producer Franklyn Cater and former New York City chief urban designer Alexandros Washburn will discuss what cities are doing or should be doing. The presentation, free and open to the public, will be at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, in the atrium of the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

SPEA is the exclusive underwriter of the NPR Cities Project, an extensive reporting series about urban life in the 21st century. Cities Project reports air on NPR newsmagazines -- including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” -- reaching 26 million listeners each week on more than 900 public radio stations nationwide. On-air and online reports are also available at www.npr.org.

At SPEA, Cater and Washburn will focus on these topics:

  • Location: A city’s location makes all the difference in its interaction with nature. As sea levels rise, one big question for leaders in coastal cities is whether to defend shoreline development with expensive new infrastructure or retreat from the coastline. The audience will hear NPR reports on how people are weighing those options in Florida, New Jersey and New York.
  • Design: Design affects how we interact with our neighbors and our environment. The audience will hear how design can make a difference in the resilience of a city. For instance, in Los Angeles, where drought has created a severe water shortage, there’s a new vision for a city full of architecture and infrastructure designed to capture and store water.
  • Mobility: Nothing is more integral to the life of a city than the mobility of its people. Transportation networks that spring back to life quickly after a crisis are key to economic resilience and important for social equity. The speakers will highlight urban efforts to fortify existing infrastructure and transit lines, add new modes to give people options, and turn to technology for help.

The NPR Cities Project reports can be heard locally on WFIU in Bloomington. WFIU News Bureau Chief Sara Wittmeyer will moderate the presentation, which will be recorded for later broadcast. SPEA faculty member Matt Baggetta will host a conversation and question-and-answer session with Cater and Washburn after their formal presentation.

Cater is a senior producer of NPR’s All Things Considered and editor of NPR Cities Project. He was a 2010 Knight Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he studied the intersection of the green economy and the built environment.

Washburn is a member of the faculty at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He formerly was chief urban designer for New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and is the author of “The Nature of Urban Design: a New York Perspective on Resilience.” Before working in the Bloomberg administration, he was a partner in the firm that designed the Harlem Piers Waterfront in Manhattan. Washburn has received national design awards in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design.

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Jim Hanchett

  • School of Public and Environmental Affairs
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  • jimhanch@indiana.edu