With a large part of our readership based in the New York area, we know many of you went to sleep or awoke with a sense of shock about the 2016 Presidential elections. Though we have traditionally eschewed political topics, apart from reporting on the impact on the built cityscape, Untapped Cities has held and has been defined by certain fundamental values since its inception.
We believe in celebrating diversity, in all its forms. We believe in a societal culture of openness, and we aim to have our content inspire a sense of wonder and curiosity in our readers’ daily lives and to encourage them to explore beyond their normal routines and boundaries. It is an exchange, in both directions – those visiting New York City and our readers traveling to new places in the United States and around the world – that will be essential to our country’s healing and understanding of other places and people. We believe that knowing history is more important than ever in the redefinition of the present and our plans for the future. And we believe that places are better when they can be built with their communities, together.
People sometimes ask, why are you called Untapped Cities when you publish mostly about New York? It was not always so, and we had active hubs in numerous cities – San Francisco, Paris, New Orleans, and Detroit. Even though at some point we consolidated all the content and focused primarily on our home base of New York, we steadfastly kept the name cities in the title. We would not be provincial or close off the possibility of sharing about other places and we hope to still spread our message of exploring cities to more places, one step at a time.
Like many of you, we were not sure how to spend today. It felt like it warranted a day of reflection, of a pause in business as usual. But it seemed that the only way forward was to continue our mission, with a statement as we have attempted to put together here.
We end with an inspiring project we participated in this past summer. Artist Martin Schulze brought his global art project, Silence Was Golden, to the Untapped Cities office (before we moved to the GSAPP Incubator @ NEW INC in the New Museum). The aim is to empower people to use art to express themselves and each group Schulze contacts chooses a word or phrase that means something to them, which “expresses their feelings towards their environment and the histories surrounding it.” The word or phrase is then turned into golden letter shaped balloons, using “the consideration of art as a language that can transcend all other languages.”
Schulze has brought Silence Was Golden to over 32 countries, 149 cities and 6 continents and aims to complete the project in every country around the world. The Untapped Cities team chose the word EXPLORE.
Please, now more than ever, rediscover your city. Discover new cultures and places and share about them. What is happening in America now goes both ways – we are all complicit, but we can support each other to change that. In the famous words of Abraham Lincoln, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Michelle Young and the Untapped Cities team.