John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
An online project collects people's complaints about their burg in more than 80 locations.
San Franciscans are mightily cheesed off about many things in their hometown, to believe the peevish complaints people are leaving at Dear City.
"Dear San Francisco," reads one. "Why is it so damn hard and damn expensive for a student to find a place to live here?" Another public-transit rider is upset that BART is "so f---ing noisy," carping that "I cant even listen to music in this sardine box. :-/" Yet another individual has a more serious issue: "I don't feel safe walking in the streets at night."
Dear City is a beta project to get urban dwellers to share their opinions about what their burg is doing wrong, and less frequently what it's getting right: People of the Bay Area seem to enjoy the public libraries, for instance. The online service began in 2012 for just Copenhagen, and has since expanded to more than 80 cities with a repository of nearly 1,200-plus "thoughts" displayed as anonymous Post-it notes. Go here for the most active one-sided arguments against cities.
"This web-based framework creates a social cluster of opinions that express the thoughts of the man on the street," say the project's originators, Mikael Stœr and Philip Battin. "Dear City becomes a documentation of contemporary life and its ups and downs. We believe change is achieved through all levels of communication."
So what's the man on the street pondering in your city? Here's a geographic sampling: