Tuesday, July 14, 2009

World Streets needs to do better

John Ernst, a long time sustainable transport colleague and ITDP Vice Director, Southeast Asia, writes that he finds World Streets pretty good value thus far, but he regrets that most of our content thus far seems to be focusing on what is going on within the advanced edge of the OECD region.

Letter from the editor

What can I say in response but yes indeed -- so what if we now put our heads together to bring in content from other parts of the world . . . after all, that’s where most of the people are and where the future is going to play out in the mega-numbers.

So let me share this with you as a challenge. And what do we need from all these places? Well, news on trials and innovations to support more sustainable transport where they are actually up and working, honest reporting on everything, and even from time to time when it is exemplary, information for our excellent and consistently troubling Bad News Department.

But we are at least getting read in other parts of the world. Take a look at the map showing the origin of people coming in to Streets this morning , and we note visitors in the last days from Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dubai, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Rumania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey. That has to mean something.

And in this spirit if you can help us bring in readers from these other places, it is surely a step in the right direction. Readers can become sources and writers rather quickly we have seen.

One idea that comes to mind immediately is to see if we can get your support for doing some Leadership Profiles – see http://tinyurl.com/ws-profiles for latest background on that -- on outstanding organizations and programs in these parts of the world. Again, it is true that we tend to now most about what is going on in the OECD region, but profiles telling us what lading programs and groups are trying to do in China, India, Indonesia and all the rest will be very important and of high interest to us all.

And am I hearing someone saying Africa and the Middle East too? Yes, please.

Finally we are not exactly sitting on our hands and here is something that is still cooking, but may provide us with a key for John Ernst's ’s good challenge for the future. We are working with our Italian friend and Eyes on the Street Sentinel in Bergamo in the north of Italy, Enrico Bonfatti, to develop an Italian language site – Nuova Mobilità -- which takes World Streets as part of its content but then builds on it in several interesting and powerful ways to make it into a good and useful read to advance the sustainable transport agenda in Italy. You can check it out at http://nuovamobilita.blogspot.com, but please understand it is still work in progress and not yet ready for show time. But it is, as you will see, a strong start.

There are two main streams of content for a partner journal like this. The first is selected World Streets articles which Enrico Bonfatti and eventually others are adapting not only in terms of putting them into Italian, but also interpreting and adapting them so as to have meaning in the Italian context. The second stream is Italian content per se. (And of course we at Streets profit because some of this becomes material for selective publication here.)

Perhaps this can serve as an example for yet other countries and language groups. It is too early to say if we can get the right model for this, but it is to let you know that we are working on it and trying to develop it as a template for relatively easy adaptation. If you wish to talk about this in the case of your country or language group, it would be great to hear from you.

So kindly get in touch with your ideas and suggestions. You can do this either publically here, or if you think it better to me directly. Thanks for thinking about it. And of yes, keep your eyes on the street.

Eric Britton

PS. As part of this necessary outreach we have decided that the Streets theme for the month of August will be Sustainable Transport in Africa: Advancing the Agenda. About time, eh?

World Streets - Building a new majority.

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