February 11, 2022  |  permalink

IBS 2022: Rethinking How Cities Will Function After the Pandemic

(The National Association of Home Builders invited me to deliver a Spotlight talk at this year’s International Builders Show in Orlando, and Builder magazine was kind enough to write it up.)

Many of the early predictions about the future during the COVID-19 pandemic, including that cities would be emptied and that offices were finished, are not likely to hold true, according to Greg Lindsay of NewCities Foundation. Instead, the post-COVID world will reflect an environment where individuals have the capability to work from anywhere and require everything on demand, Lindsay shared during his education session “The Big Rethink: Cities After COVID” during the 2022 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida.

While there was a great migration away from cities during the early stages of the pandemic, the migration pattern has reversed during the past year. While many individuals still desire the space from their neighbors that is afforded by suburban life and require their homes to have a slightly different function than before the pandemic, cities are also highly desirable, according to Lindsay. Additionally, many firms are beginning to slowly move away from fully remote work because of the segmentation it has created in the workforce, another positive sign for the future of cities.

In addition to migration patterns, another major trend that has emerged during the pandemic is the rise of single-family rental homes and build-to-rent as a business model. Lindsay said the build-to-rent space will continue to emerge, and may even become a replacement for the starter home for some individuals.

“One of the biggest trends that’s come out of the pandemic is the huge surge in single-family rentals,” Lindsay said. “We’re seeing large companies now creating entire neighborhoods from scratch particularly in places that have seen a huge surge in migration and a shortage of housing. Perhaps given the incredible return on investment is that starter homes—the lowest rung of Americans being able to build wealth—is now being turned into a rental market. There’s a huge interest in this build-to-rent model, which arguably could be a big chunk of the future of American housing.”

Additionally, Lindsay said the emergence of quick commerce—a service where consumers can expect delivery within an hour of placing an order—is likely to have an impact on how communities are developed. Quick commerce has already led to the rise of “dark storefronts” in many cities, retail distribution centers or former brick-and-mortar stores that cater exclusively to online shoppers. The nature of quick commerce means the service radius of the store is relatively small, allowing for rapid delivery and almost on-demand service. However, as the trend continues to develop, Lindsay said it may become a selling point for communities and developments.

“People are going to scale this up and start combining it with all forms of mixed-use housing services,” Lindsay said. “Perhaps in the future, quick commerce will become an amenity and an offering. You can now get your groceries delivered in 15 minutes or less by servicers on staff.”

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February 03, 2022  |  permalink

The Weather Report #7

(Rainlight Studio’s Yorgo Lykouria invited me to chat a while back for a series of conversations dubbed “The Weather Report.” The tastefully-edited black-and-white video is above, the description below.)

In this edition Yorgo Lykouria talks to journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker Greg Lindsay. They discuss how we can all live in a post-pandemic world, including European nations’ responsibility for refugees and the impact of global warming in areas such as the Pacific Northwest. The conversation explores moving from urban conurbations to more rural areas and the concept of the fifteen minute city. They discuss the idea of being able to live, work and play, all within a quarter of an hour, with examples cited throughout the world from Paris to Manhattan to Amsterdam. The pair also touch upon the impacts of infrastructure of the 15 minute city, from dark stores to shipping containers as food trucks.

‘Weather Report’ is a conversation series driven by healthy curiosity and a desire to understand the world around us through the lens of design. We’ll feature Rainlight’s Creative Director, Yorgo Lykouria discussing topics with a variety of industry experts, futurists, and creatives. During these conversations, we’ll explore the perspectives of these leaders and thinkers touching on what they’re considering right now. We’ll also touch on topics as varied as design for climate change, the future of cities, material innovation, and design education.

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January 16, 2022  |  permalink

Interview with the London Speaker Bureau

(The London Speaker Bureau recently asked me for my views on post-pandemic cities, web3, and much more. If you like what you see, drop them a line!)

Greg Lindsay is the Senior Fellow for Applied Research and Foresight at NewCities, where he analyses what mobility and mixed-use development looks like in the future. He is a futurist, urbanist, critically acclaimed author and journalist. In this exclusive interview with Greg, he shares his expert insight on the future and the respective effects of AI, cities, the climate crisis, blockchain and innovation. We picked his brain on what our post-pandemic world looks like, and how and why so many things are changing.

Greg Lindsay works with many multinational organisations, helping them plot a course for the future. He discusses the “death of cities” notion and how “remote work and its instant adoption has led to massive changes for cities” all over the world. Innovation does not happen through increased productivity, but rather through serendipity. Greg provides a brilliant understanding on how and why we “need to work on bringing people back together in a new, innovative way”.

Climate change is another area of concern that Greg discusses, along with his opinion on the recent COP26 gathering, expressing that “its one thing for nation-state governments to talk about great pledges… but all the plans are insufficient”.

Artificial Intelligence and massive advances in technological innovation are a peak area of interest for Greg. He explores the future of AI, discussing that “a lot of artificial intelligence is being used, not to create new services to enhance productivity, but to suppress wages and push people down”, further delving into discussions surrounding “its not about when the robots will replace us, its about are we creating the right kinds of AI?” Greg shares his deep understanding of some of the most relevant and prominent issues of our time.

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January 11, 2022  |  permalink

Henley & Partners: There Will Be No Middle Ground in the Tussle for Brains and Bucks

(Henley & Partners invited me to once again contribute an essay on talent mobility to their Q1 2022 Global Mobility Report. Originally published here on January 11, 2022.)

A year ago in this space I argued, “We are all ‘global nomads’ now”, and in the last few months both governments and the talent mobility-industrial-complex have finally begun to sit up and take notice. While the Omicron variant may have temporarily slammed shut borders after they had been gradually reopening, it’s also further loosened the grip of employers hell-bent on summoning their charges back to the office. As return-to-office deadlines recede forever into the future and companies drop their threats of remote work pay cuts, the opportunities for knowledge workers to pursue geopolitical arbitrage are becoming more concrete. Simultaneously, the biggest technological trends of the last year — “Web3” and “the Metaverse” — point to new possibilities for virtual citizenship that Estonia’s e-residents could have only dreamed of when the country’s pioneering program launched seven years ago. Where do these developments converge? Let’s begin.

Digital nomad power – immigration as a service

Barbados inaugurated the world’s first nomad visa in July 2020. Eighteen months later informal counts tally more than three-dozen nations offering one-year visas for remote workers, with the largest concentrations in Europe and the Caribbean. Argentina is poised to be next, with Buenos Aires boasting its combination of a warm climate, bucolic boulevards, relative safety, and — most of all — a weak currency to attract 22,000 nomads by this time next year.

In this regard, Argentina’s pitch is somewhat similar to that of Portugal, which is moving swiftly to become the nomad’s base of choice. In November, the nation passed one of the world’s strongest remote worker protection laws, forbidding employers from contacting staff outside working hours and from remotely monitoring their work. Labor minister Ana Mendes Godinho explicitly described the law as a safeguard and a selling point for nomads, laying the foundation for a comprehensive legislative framework to meet their needs.

The ardor is mutual as Portuguese cities consistently rank among the top destinations on sites such as Nomad List, which has since spawned the first immigration-as-a-service (IaaS?) platform, Rebase, designed to streamline residence applications and tax requirements for a heavily discounted rate of just USD 849. For that price, applicants receive an onboarding call, paperwork consultation, and tax advice (with the option for additional packages) to apply for non-habitual resident status typically through a “golden” (D7) visa.

Rebase promises that while Portugal is the first, it won’t be the last of the nations it offers. The site is indicative of the sea change happening in global talent mobility. Whereas before the pandemic employers had to push talent to accept foreign postings and offer support, now workers exert their own pull, challenging companies to support them wherever they choose to live — or else suffer the Great Resignation.

After speaking at Worldwide ERC’s Global Workforce Symposium in Chicago late last year — a confab for talent mobility professionals — I was approached by executives from multiple enterprise software firms debating whether to make their B2B offerings available to consumers. Needless to say, my answer was “yes”. Just as online banks such as Zopa were a boon for independent workers more than a decade ago, an emerging Infrastructure-as-a-Service tech stack offers the promise to be similarly transformative across borders.

The future is virtual, and geographical borders are losing their sway

Looking further ahead, the explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies, blockchain, non-fungible tokens, and their catchall term “Web3” over the last year points to extra-territorial possibilities for one’s virtual self. In October 2021, for example, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin ruminated on the idea of “crypto cities”, nodding to Miami and Nevada’s Reno as examples of cities experimenting with fundraising and governance on blockchain, but also imagining new forms of control divorced from terrestrial loyalties.

In a similar fashion, angel investor Balaji S. Srinivasan has spent much of the last decade advocating for cloud-based communities of like-minded individuals who should eventually commandeer local government or use Web3 tools to virtually secede altogether. In December last year, he and Move author Parag Khanna suggested that nations trapped between the USA and China in their thawing cold war create a new “aligned movement” of nations with interoperable crypto-citizenship. What might this look like?

For a hint let’s turn back to Barbados which last April appointed cryptocurrency pioneer Gabriel Abed ambassador to the UAE — and the Metaverse. In November 2021 Abed announced his government had formally acquired a plot of virtual real estate in Decentraland, the leading blockchain-based virtual world platform.

Speaking in December at a virtual panel I hosted on behalf of NewCities, Abed speculated on potential partnerships with other nations to create e-residency partnerships with interoperability between trading blocs. “This opens up the door for Barbados to no longer be limited by its geography,” he said, “and levels the playing field by saying any nation may now participate because their size is no longer an issue. The creativity they bring to the table is what really matters.”

While Abed declined to offer further specifics, the intent was clear — 2022 will be the year nations either commit to luring international talent through the latter’s platform of choice, or the year they fall behind permanently in the arms race for talent. There is no in-between.

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January 10, 2022  |  permalink

Design & Solidarity: Conversations on Collective Futures

My friends and MIT Future Urban Collectives Lab colleague Rafi Segal and Marisa Morán Jahn at last have a cover (see left) and pub date (October 2022) for their forthcoming book from Columbia University Press, Design & Solidarity: Conversations on Collective Futures, to which I was honored to contribute a chapter on the flourishing of digital-first mutual aid collectives in the early days of the pandemic. A fuller description of the book is below; watch this space for more:

In times of crisis, mutual aid becomes paramount. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, new forms of sharing had gained momentum to redress precarity and stark economic inequality. Today, a diverse array of mutualistic organizations seek to fundamentally restructure housing, care, labor, food, and more. Yet design, art, and architecture play a key role in shaping these initiatives, fulfilling their promise of solidarity, and ensuring that these values endure.

In this book, artist Marisa Morán Jahn and architect Rafi Segal converse about the transformative potential of mutualism and design with leading thinkers and practitioners: Mercedes Bidart, Arturo Escobar, Michael Hardt, Greg Lindsay, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Ai-jen Poo, and Trebor Scholz. Together, they consider how design inspires, invigorates, and sustains contemporary forms of mutualism—including platform cooperatives, digital-first communities, emerging currencies, mutual aid, care networks, social-change movements, and more. From these dialogues emerge powerful visions of futures guided by communal self-determination and collective well-being.

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January 03, 2022  |  permalink

2022 Speaking Schedule

Happy New Year! Here in Montréal, we’re back right where we started — under curfew amidst a skyrocketing number of Omicron cases — but at least a few things are different, including my entire family being vaccinated and the US/Canadian border being open. And that means I’ll be hitting the road again once the Omnicron wave inevitably peaks-and-crashes.

Below is a short list of upcoming appearances both in-person and virtual. (Sometimes in the same day.) A continuously updated long list is here

If you’re interested in arranging a speaking appearance, please send me an email or contact the speakers bureau of your choice. (I work closely with Speakers Spotlight in Canada, the London Speakers Bureau, and the Washington Speakers Bureau, to name just a few.) A complete list of speaking topics can be found here.

January 20, 2022. Raleigh, NC
North Carolina Transportation Summit.

January 20, 2022. Raleigh, NC
Alumni of World Entrepreneurs. (virtual)

February 8, 2022. Fairlawn, OH

February 16, 2022. Scottsdale, AZ
Tiger 21.

March 8, 2022. Austin, TX
Coldwell Banker Commercial.

June 1, 2022. Mexico City, Mexico
The Real Estate Show.

September 13-14, 2022. Las Vegas, NV

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December 17, 2021  |  permalink

Fast Company Innovation Festival 360

My friends at Fast Company asked me to host a few sessions at last week’s Innovation Festival 360. First up was Take the controls: How CIOs can become digital transformation pilots starring George Llado, SVP and head of IT at Alexion; Phil McKoy, CIO of Optum; and Sanjay Srivastava, chief digital officer at Genpact. Screenshot above; description below:

For many organizations, COVID-19 accelerated the pace of digital transformation. But for some CIOs and technology leaders, their roles haven’t evolved to keep up. Once focused on running IT operations, many of today’s CIOs can be described as “co-pilots” – they advise and support fellow leaders on how to shape and deliver transformation. To harness the full potential of digital technologies, CIOs must take the controls, reimagine enterprise architecture, and chart the course through business transformation. In this provocative session, three CIOs will share the secrets behind successfully taking the pilot’s seat.

And next was Destination transformation: A playbook for companies to redefine what’s possible, featuring Shivani Govil, chief product officer, CCC, and David Rogers, professor at Columbia Business School. Screenshot at bottom, description below:

Over the past 18 months, there has been a massive acceleration in the adoption of digital technologies across all business sectors. This transformation is completely disrupting the strategic planning for business leaders. With their customers’ expectations quickly shifting, senior executives can no longer take a “wait and see” attitude toward burgeoning technologies and business models such as AI and connected ecosystems to deliver value to end-users. In this insightful panel discussion, Fast Company hosts top business leaders to share how companies, including leaders in the multi-trillion-dollar insurance economy, are successfully prioritizing investments in digital transformations, are achieving meaningful ROI, and the innovations that will break through in 2022.

With Omicron now running rampant, I get the feeling I’ll be doing more of these…

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December 11, 2021  |  permalink

Nomad Cities and Worldwide ERC

In October — during the brief interregnum between the Delta and Omicron variants — I had the pleasure of speaking to Worldwide ERC’s Global Workforce Symposium about both the post-pandemic future of cities and increasingly mobile, remote workers. Rather than wait for employers to push them overseas, they are moving, living, and working wherever they want, pulling their employers along to help them realize their dreams — or else jump ship.

The video of my talk (my first recorded keynote post-quarantine) is posted below — I first appear around the 10:50 mark. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you like what you see and hear.

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December 11, 2021  |  permalink

Dark City in Axios, Slate, and the Boston Globe

This past summer, my friend Lev Kushner and I began ruminating “dark stores” — the local micro-warehouses deployed by 15-minute delivery startups such as Gopuff, Gorillas, and JOKR. What happens to cities if and when those companies plow billions of dollars of venture capital into leasing storefronts? Those conversations became our Bloomberg CityLab story, “The Dark Side of 15-Minute Delivery,” which coincidentally dropped the day after DoorDash announced it was getting into the instant delivery game as well.

We couldn’t have timed it better. Formerly flying just below the radar, 15-minute delivery is now on everyone’s screens. Axios’ Erica Pandey covered our story with the site’s characteristic “smart brevity:”

Why it matters: Our addiction to super-fast delivery — intensified by the pandemic — is clogging our cities, creating more low-paying jobs, and shuttering mom-and-pop stores on Main Street.

Pandey kindly invited me on Axios’ Re:Cap podcast to discuss our story as well. (Listen below.)

Elsewhere, Slate’s Money podcast used our story as a jumping-off point to cover 15-minute delivery, while sites such as Yahoo News, Planetizen, and others ran with coverage as well.

But I was most excited to speak with Boston Globe reporter Janelle Nanos, who gave me the last word in her front-page story on dark stores’ arrival in Boston:

And that’s why it’s so important to pay attention now, Lindsay said, to create clear rules and not let what very well may be a short-term fad inflict long-term damage on cities that are already struggling to recover from the pandemic.

“They’re going to do this and do irreparable harm to cities,” he said. “And then they may very well likely flame out.”

What I found so heartening about speaking with Nanos and Pandey is that the wait-and-see attitude once taken toward ride-hailing — maybe it’s bad but this Uber ride cost $3 and arrived in one-minute, so… — has been replaced by instant skepticism. Hopefully cities won’t make the same mistakes again.

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December 08, 2021  |  permalink

A Week in the Life: The Economist, NAHB, CCA, and More

What’s it like to keep up a steady stream of virtual events while hitting the road again for in-person talks? Why, I’m glad you asked! Just to give you a taste of what my life has been like as of late, here’s a recent week-in-the-life of travel, events, and seeing long-lost friends.

November 30: I arise early — really early — to join a panel (screenshot above) hosted by The Economist and JLL on “Future-proofing cities.” I’m joined by JLL’s Walid Goudiard, Invesco’s Mike Bessell, the City of Paris’ Marion Waller, and The Economist’s Vinjeru Mkandawire to discuss 15-minute cities, climate migration, building resilient housing and other subjects near and dear to my heart. (You can watch the replay here.)

That afternoon, it’s off to Dallas to speak to the National Association of Home Builders’ Multifamily Leadership Board the next evening.

December 1: I arise early — really early — again, this time for Henley & Partners’ 15th Global Citizenship Conference. I’m joined by the firm’s CEO Dr. Juerg Steffen and group head of business development Nirbhay Handa to discuss “The Robust Expansion of Investment Migration in the 2020s,” (video above) which, if we’re being honest with ourselves, will be the result of nations failing to create new paths to residence and citizenship while being all too happy to take the money of high net worth individuals. Still, I enjoy working with them because few firms are grappling with these issues in all of their ambiguity.

Leaving my hotel, I race to Crow Holdings to catch up with my friend Elie Finegold for the first time since the pandemic. Together, we tour the, uh, eccentric campus commissioned by billionaire Harlan Crow (no photos, but you can see for yourself), but not before hunkering down in a conference room to tape the season finale of NewCities’ threesixtyCITY podcast, this time with design critic and The Design of Childhood author Alexandra Lange on “the design of care.” (Listen on Apple Podcasts here.)

After lunch, it’s back to my hotel to prepare for my keynote to NAHB on “cities after COVID-19,” a convenient scaffolding to talk about… whatever I want to talk about. Compressing an hour’s worth of material into 30 minutes so as not to interfere with dinner (because being together in person is the point after all), I bring even more energy than usual, which primes some excellent conversations around the table later. (Photo below.)

December 3: Back in Montréal, I head over to the Canadian Centre for Architecture for one of its first post-pandemic in-person events, “Designing for A Future of Care.” Starring my Venice Architecture Biennale teammates Rafi Segal and Marisa Morán Jahn, along with NewCities executive director Dr. Paty Rios and CCA director Giovanna Borasi, the conversation centers on Rafi’ and Marisa’s Carehaus project, which is featured in the CCA’s current exhibition, “A Section of Now.” (Video below.)

Afterward, a few of us retired to my home for drinks and dinner — a relief to have (fully vaccinated) friends and colleagues over after all this time home alone.

December 7: Still in Montréal, I’m back on the air again to host the final installment of NewCities’ Greenfield Cities Alliance Dialogues, a series of in-person and virtual events exploring the future of master-planned urban megaprojects. Titled “Cities, Sovereignty, and Citizenship,” this session brought together NEOM’s Mansoor Hanif, H.E. Gabriel Abed, Ambassador of Barbados to the UAE, Estonia’s Director General of Citizenship and Migration Policy Ruth Annus, Na’amal co-founder Lorraine Charles, and The Cosmopolites author Atossa Araxia Abrahamian for a wide-ranging discussion of special economic zones, e-residency, nomad visas, web3, and the Metaverse. (Video at bottom.)

An hour after that roundtable concluded, Bloomberg CityLab published my piece warning against the danger of dark stores and the “dark city.” Just another week in the life.

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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a generalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the chief communications officer at Climate Alpha, an urban tech fellow at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, , a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab, and a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative.

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Articles by Greg Lindsay

-----  |  January 1, 2022

2022 Speaking Topics

CityLab  |  December 7, 2021

The Dark Side of 15-Minute Grocery Delivery

Fast Company  |  June 2021

Why the Great Lakes need to be the center of our climate strategy

Fast Company  |  March 2020

How to design a smart city that’s built on empowerment–not corporate surveillance

URBAN-X  |  December 2019


CityLab  |  December 10, 2018

The State of Play: Connected Mobility in San Francisco, Boston, and Detroit

Harvard Business Review  |  September 24, 2018

Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces

CityLab  |  July 2018

The State of Play: Connected Mobility + U.S. Cities

Medium  |  May 1, 2017

The Engine Room

Fast Company  |  January 19, 2017

The Collaboration Software That’s Rejuvenating The Young Global Leaders Of Davos

The Guardian  |  January 13, 2017

What If Uber Kills Public Transport Instead of Cars

Backchannel  |  January 4, 2017

The Office of the Future Is… an Office

New Cities Foundation  |  October 2016

Now Arriving: A Connected Mobility Roadmap for Public Transport

Inc.  |  October 2016

Why Every Business Should Start in a Co-Working Space

Popular Mechanics  |  May 11, 2016

Can the World’s Worst Traffic Problem Be Solved?

The New Republic  |  January/February 2016

Hacking The City

Fast Company  |  September 22, 2015

We Spent Two Weeks Wearing Employee Trackers: Here’s What We Learned

Fast Company  |  September 21, 2015

HR Meets Data: How Your Boss Will Monitor You To Create The Quantified Workplace

Inc.  |  March 2015

Which Contacts Should You Keep in Touch With? Let This Software Tell You

Inc.  |  March 2015

5 Global Cities of the Future

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November 26, 2022

CBC’s Spark on Solutionism & Mutual Aid

November 08, 2022

Lightbox PRISM 2022

November 06, 2022

What Is The Metaverse Metropolis?

October 12, 2022

The Construction Disruption Podcast

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