Also: Give pay toilets another chance, and Texas cities block out Section 8 renters.

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***

What We’re Following

Patch it up: On a dirt road in Boykin, Alabama, there’s a repurposed two-room schoolhouse where you can find the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective. The group has inherited a rich community tradition: Women have been making quilts in the area since the 1920s, gaining prominence especially during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Their quilts reside in permanent museum collections from coast to coast, and are widely acknowledged as masterpieces of American art.

Mary Margaret Pettway hand-stitches a replica of one of her mother Lucy T. Pettway’s best-known quilts in the corner of the seniors’ nutrition center and Gee’s Bend Welcome Center, the only new facility in Boykin. (Alexandra Marvar/CityLab)

Despite that global fame, if you want to visit Gee’s Bend, you’ll have plan your visit well. The collective sits 40 miles from the nearest hotel, supermarket, or conventional restaurant, so it doesn’t get much foot traffic. In fact, Boykin isn’t even considered a town, and it’s deeply impoverished. But the community wants to change that by incorporating as a municipality. It’s a move that could get the 300 or so people of Boykin new access to resources, and offer a political agency that they’ve never had before. Today on CityLab: Could incorporating as a town save Gee’s Bend, Alabama?

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

How Pay Toilets Could Help Achieve 'Potty Parity'

In the 1970s, many American cities and states banned pay toilets, but the vision of abundant free toilets for all never came to pass.

Sophie House

Housing Can’t Be Both Affordable and a Good Investment

The two pillars of American housing policy are fundamentally at odds.

Joe Cortright

In Texas Cities, Section 8 Renters Get Blocked Out

Section 8 vouchers are supposed to help low-income families reach better neighborhoods. But in cities like Houston and Dallas, the law gets in the way.

Edgar Walters and Neena Satija

Seattle Wants to Save a Beloved Music Venue. But Is It Too Late?

The Showbox has become a flashpoint in the fight to preserve a changing city.

Hallie Golden

The Worldwide Refugee Crisis Is Playing Out In Global South Cities

More refugees than ever are resettling in urban areas—particularly in the developing world. The humanitarian sector needs to support these cities.

Karim Doumar


What We’re Reading

Startups in New York and D.C. prepare for a talent tug of war with Amazon (Morning Consult)

How HUD’s inspection system fails tenants nationwide (ProPublica)

Would a city save money if it paid for lawyers to stop evictions? (Governing)

Hotel and city representatives are meeting in New York to discuss their Airbnb problem (BuzzFeed News)

The big city paradox: They’re getting richer, but they’re losing electoral clout (Washington Post)


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