Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Celebrating 100 – with a few questions

This blog saw first light a hundred days ago. It began as a spin-off from a project I’m working on where I look at the Nordic capitals and their ambitions to be leaders in modern urban development.
Now I’m getting obsessed. We are in the midst of an era of dramatic development in many cities around the world, and I hadn’t fully realized the proportions of this. One expert described these changes as the biggest since the end of World War II.
I just got back from London, where I saw some of the huge regeneration projects going on as the city gets ready for the Olympic Games 2012 (the person to the right is me in front of the Olympic stadium in Stratford).
There will be a series of reports on this in the blog later on.
Stockholm and Copenhagen, two of the cities in my project, compete to be known as the most climate-friendly and liveable cities in the world. Oslo is working on a facelift of historic proportions and in Helsinki they say the city is going through the biggest changes in a hundred years.
I was supposed to have spent last week in the Finnish capital, but all flights were cancelled due to the ash cloud from Iceland. Perhaps I was being punished for not including Reykjavik in my project. I’ll go to Helsinki a few weeks from now instead.
Old harbour fronts and derelict industrial sites are being redeveloped as many cities grow within their present borders. Ambitions are raised when it comes to urban planning and architecture, with mixed results.
No project is presented without the word sustainable included in its description.
This trend can be seen all over Europe. In some places it’s done on a huge scale, like in Hamburg where the HafenCity development will be crowned by an iconic new concert hall (left). Some times it’s on a smaller scale, like the harbour front development where I live west of Stockholm.
In the United States the debate is growing over how to end suburban sprawl and create lively, sustainable urban centres instead.
During a trip to the American Midwest in October last year I saw this going on even in places like Fort Wayne, Indiana, where spent a year as an exchange student a long time ago. It was very encouraging.
Writing this blog has just been an experiment to see if anybody would read it. I haven’t done much to spread the word about it.
When I go to Google Analytics (a great tool for bloggers!) for the statistics, I’ve been encouraged to see that I have a small but rather steady group of readers spread out in some 60 countries in all parts of the world.
I’ve had a little over 1,000 unique visitors, which isn’t a lot. But more interesting is that many of these visitors seem to come back regularly and spend enough time on blog to read my stories.
So now I’m getting curious. Who are you?
Who’s the regular visitor(s) in Virginia that spend an average of more than five minutes on the blog each visit? Who in Cambridge, that great English centre of knowledge, finds it worthwhile to spend an average of 19 minutes on each visit?
Who reads this in Canada, Chile, Serbia or the United Arab Emirates?
If you have a minute, I would really appreciate some feedback.
What makes you read this? What could I do differently? What should be the focus of this blog?Anybody interested in some form of cooperation?
You can write a comment below or send me an e-mail (see e-mail address in the column to the right).
Soon my project will be finished and I’ll have to make a decision on the future of the blog.
Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Urban ambitions: Plans for greener streets in downtown Fort Wayne...

...and silos converted into modern residences in the old harbour of Copenhagen.