I worked as an urban decoder collecting quantitative data about Paris for the Think-Tank YouthFul Cities. The data was then analyzed to provide a YouthFul Cities Index. The report was released in August 2014.
Download the Executive Summary.
They once asked: What makes a city YouthFul? Here is what I answered.
I must admit that this is not a spontaneous answer but rather the result of a long-term reflection engaging with youth in various contexts.
I believe that what makes a city Youthful is its ability to create an enabling environment for young people as well as agency for these young people to modify and improve this very environment.
In that regard, a youthful city is a city that allows self-development, interpersonal interactions and provides young people with the ability to be consulted, and get a voice in planning and decision-making.
Self-Development: Young people need time for experiment and learning, in order to find their real self: what they like and what they are good at. Freeing sometimes imply that the city provides adequate services for young people.
– Affordability: Affordable cost of living is indispensible. Indeed, when costs of living are high, young people spend a large share of their times working to generate enough incomes. In that regard, they are very unlikely to find time to learn/study, interning and volunteering activities I find personally empowering.
– Dynamism: Having time is important, however, the city must equally provide interesting activities (associations, CBOs, Universities for instance) for young people to try and experience.
Interpersonal interactions: Young people also develop through others. In that regard, a city must create an environment in which people can meet and interact.
– Mobility: a cheap and efficient transportation system is essential for young people to travel around and be able to meet.
– Public spaces: Public spaces, if well-designed, allow spontaneous interactions and young people can find new people to interact with and increase their social networks.
– Security: None of the above can work if there is no security.
Ability to be consulted and integrated in planning and decision-making: Young people need to have means to improve their environment, in order to make even more youthful. I find youth councils very interesting in that respect. Youth-led CBOs are also a good way to hear the voice of young people. However, none of these makes sense if the municipality is not ready to take their voices into account. In that regard, it is necessary to advocate for a better youth participation in the city’s governance.
Categories: Professional Work