The right to the city

A note from the editor

Dinyar Godrej

City limits

Once the cold of winter has retreated, weekends in Rotterdam, where I live, are no longer safe for those who value peace and quiet. The city hosts free festivals and sporting events in quick succession, drawing huge crowds of both inhabitants and visitors to rejoice and be one.

The most ethnically diverse city of the Netherlands, with over 170 different nationalities represented, there’s a justifiable pride in how people get along here. Citizen collectives are making active use of what the city has to offer.

And yet, there’s a counteractive force in play. In the centre, chichi boutiques selling goods bearing tiny tags with enormous prices are steadily elbowing out more modest establishments. Many parts of the suburban tundra have undergone gentrification against the wishes of those who live in them, many of whom got priced out. Three years ago, the dominant political party in City Hall declared their intention to replace 20,000 cheaper housing units for more expensive ones in order to better serve career-oriented Rotterdammers rather than those on low incomes.

Money draws its lines on the city map after all, perhaps somewhat more subtly here than in many other places in the world. With over half of the world’s population already living in urban areas our Big Story asks whether the vision of an inclusive city for all is any closer to coming true?

Our Long Read offers another reality check. Stumped by the pundits who keep claiming we’ve never had it better, Jason Hickel goes behind the lies, damned lies, and statistics to reveal what the ups and downs of global poverty rates are actually telling us.

Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

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