Bikes are piled up during the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference in downtown Austin, Texas in 2012. Julia Robinson/Reuters

We’ve got some great conversations in mind. To make them happen, we need your help!

There’s an exciting new addition coming to next year’s South by Southwest: a two-day summit that’s all about cities.

“As the world grows increasingly complex, cities have emerged as innovators, testing and developing new solutions to problems ranging from climate change, migration, automation, and more,” SXSW’s Ari Roth wrote in a statement announcing the Cities Summit. (CityLab is a media sponsor of the event.)

This is what we obsess over day in and day out—and it’s why we want to bring our ideas to the SXSW stage on March 12 and 13. To make that happen, we need your help.

CityLab staffers have proposed seven panels that we think are important parts of any conversation about the urban environment. Below, you’ll find our pitches. Check them out and vote for your favorite—or all of them, if you want—by August 25. These public votes are combined with input from SXSW’s advisory board and staff to make the final schedule. (As a heads up, you’ll need to make an account with SXSW in order to vote.)


“Inclusive Cities and The Wisdom of the Crowd”

Congested roads and delayed trains are not just a matter of convenience, the lack of accessible public transport cuts people off from economic opportunities. Mobility on demand is offering a chance to give people more control over when and how they want to travel. By harnessing IoT-technology and big data, supply is matched with demand in real-time. When less strain is put on any single point in the system, cities can focus on improving services, in particular in previously underserved areas. Features CityLab staff writer Laura Bliss. VOTE HERE.


“Superheroes and the City”

The NYC that gave rise to the most beloved superheroes in the Golden Age of comic books is transformed. Hell's Kitchen, where Daredevil fought gangsters and criminals, is now home to the High Line. Gotham isn't Gothic anymore. This panel brings together urban journalists (and comic-book fans) with celebrated comic-book authors, who will look at how once-gritty cities of comic-book lore look more and more like futuristic Metropolis—and how those changes are reflected in comic books and films. Features CityLab staff writer Kriston Capps. VOTE HERE.


“What Happened to Our Chocolate Cities?”

A look at gentrification in our cities, historical context of the Great Migration and current examples of industries/concepts/infrastructure that are grappling with the changing makeup in our cities and the challenge of improving a neighborhood without driving out the people who made it what it is. Features CityLab staff writer Brentin Mock. VOTE HERE.


“Redefining Sanctuary Cities”

As Jeff Sessions has rolled out his law-and-order missions to curb immigration and stop violent crime, he has increasingly suggested that the two go hand-in-hand — a phenomenon known as “crimmigration.” In this environment, cities and advocates are seeking to define - and redefine - what it means to be a sanctuary city. Should cities that dub themselves "sanctuaries" protect immigrants and nonimmigrants alike, particularly people of color, through criminal justice and surveillance reform? Features CityLab staff writers Tanvi Misra and Brentin Mock. VOTE HERE.


“How Cities Can Save Themselves”

Today’s urban centers are poised for radical challenges ahead. They may be soaked by rising water levels, see extreme weather lash their shores, or reach unsustainable temperatures. In the face of federal policy that casts a skeptical glance at these looming struggles, cities—and city dwellers—can work together to make themselves more resilient. What does a climate-proof city look like? Which actors need to work together in order to build one? Features CityLab senior associate editor Jessica Leigh Hester. VOTE HERE.


“Does the Sharing Economy Make a Better Community?”

The promise of the sharing economy was personal freedom, income & system efficiency. But is its by-product a better community? Does the sharing economy result in neighborhoods that are more vibrant, sustainable and connected? The session has two parts: first with Lyft, Airbnb and the National League of Cities to discuss how the sharing economy is changing neighborhoods (good + bad). The 2nd an audience discussion on recommendations how neighborhoods can utilize these platforms to their advantage. Features CityLab general manager Rob Bole. VOTE HERE.


“Cities Helping Cities”

Houston has much to learn from Helsinki, and vice versa. Cities run on operating systems. For most of history, updating the "code" at the heart of these systems has been an inefficient task which each municipality pursues alone. Time and money are wasted as existing solutions are reinvented and old mistakes are made in new places. Smart data sharing can transform civic innovation into a collective global enterprise, creating a worldwide users' group to harness best practices. Features CityLab general manager Rob Bole. VOTE HERE.

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