This week, we officially kick off a series of interviews about the history and future of cities. Our first guest is Greg Lindsay, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things urban. Greg is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion. He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative.

The podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, and other popular apps. You can also listen directly here:

On July 14-16, Greg and NewCities are hosting New Housing Solutions LIVE, a free, virtual housing conference. The conference will include special sessions on technology and design, Millennials' “missing middle” housing, the future of the suburbs, and more. Register here: https://events.bizzabo.com/new-housing-solutions-live.

Also check out “Inoculating the Planet,” Greg's recent talk on the post-COVID trajectory of everything.

Transcript

The transcript of the show is vailable below. Note that this is an automated transcript created by Otter.ai. It can help you get a general idea of what we discussed but it can be wildly inaacutate at times.

Dror Poleg  
Hi everyone. This week we officially kick off a series of interviews about the history and future of cities. My first guest is Greg Lindsay, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things urban. Greg is the director of Applied Research at NewCities and the director of strategy at NewCities’s mobility offshoot, CoMotion. And he's also the Co-Author of a book called Aeorotroplis. Greg, welcome to the show!

Greg Lindsay  
Thank you, Dror. Thanks for having me. I've been on the other side of this. It's great to be a guest this time.

Dror Poleg  
That's right. I was on your podcast last year. Feels like a lifetime ago. Actually, not even last year, maybe early this year.

Greg
It was last November.


Dror Poleg  
So how are you and where are you? First of all

Greg
I am good. I'm healthy. And well, I'm here in my basement here in Montreal. So I have a bit of a different perspective. I think for many of your listeners here in the sense of I Am, not only I'm no longer in New York, so I no longer feel the New York exceptionalism is keenly. But I'm also outside the country to where Yeah, I mean, from the perspective of Canada watching what's currently unfolding in that states and early to mid July is definitely a foreseeable tragedy given that, you know, we're not quite Europe, but I mean, things have a feeling of normalcy here that I don't think they do in the States right now. Mm hmm.

Dror Poleg  
Well, you'll be happy to hear that I'm in a basement as well in the in the suburbs in an undisclosed location outside of New York City. So, we as you alluded to, we live in very interesting times. Looking around what are you most excited or intrigued about at the moment?

Greg Lindsay
Oh, excited about you know, it's interesting as someone as someone who worked from home for 15 years but did so as a freelancer. I it's funny to me how actually apprehensive I am about everyone rushing to embrace our sudden work from home future if it in fact remains that way. I guess I'll go off on this tangent real fast, because it's something that's very much top of mind. And you and I've discussed it a lot, which is Yeah, no truly is, is that we tipped over from, you know, maximum propinquity. And you know, in simultaneous Miss working together to complete work from home everywhere. And we can discuss, I think you and I are both in agreement that there's gonna be all sorts of hybrid flows. And we'll see like, to what level people are empowered. But the thing that I keep thinking about is I feel like most people just haven't thought through the second and third order effects of organization exiling their workers, Facebook, one of them. And the thing I come to is this is, is that if this lasts long enough, I mean, we already saw a trend where organizations were basically emptying out their workforces, right to more shifts towards independent contingent workers. You know, with platforms like Upwork and work market. I just to me, the whole notion of is this continues on, we're going to see, basically, knowledge work will become effectively gig work right, we'll see corporations and organizations turn to market driven things versus organizationally driven solutions and I worry about the sense of agency like, you know, the sense of people feeling that they get their commute times back or they get their their work life balance, finally in flux, but what if they find themselves in sort of zero hours, knowledge, work jobs, and all sorts of temporary project base get gig work? Hmm. So that's something I think about and that's why I'm not as I guess, excited about it even I practiced it for 15 years. And yeah, of course, you know, that world, you know, we could talk about the urban implications. But I think first and foremost about how that ties into automation AI people being pushed out of sight, the same way that a lot of gig workers are pushed out of sight, even though let

Dror Poleg  
me let me stop you there then before we really before we get to urbanization even. So talking, like if I can summarize your argument, you're basically saying, okay, it sounds like fine, we're all going to work from home. But it also probably means we're all going to just be measured by our output, which means we're just going to be paid based on what we do, which really starts to sound more like an Uber driver or some kind of, you know, Junior graphic designer or a programmer on Upwork, which essentially means you're also not just don't have the same kind of terms that you had before but also You're competing against anyone, you know, whether they're in Croatia or India? Or, or you know, some other, some other state in the US. I agree, I think that's where the world is headed. I doubt if geography can can can solve that problem. I think like, it looks like that's where capitalism is going.

But one point of contention,

particularly looking at, you know, you're saying that, you know, you've been working like this for 15-20 years. And same for me, even when I was an employee of a large real estate developer, I was just working from anywhere all the time and kind of being compensated based on as they say, in our industry, you eat what you kill. So so it was very similar, even more brutal than working on an UpWork or driving an Uber, for different numbers, of course.

I'm just a contract worker, and it's true, and I just get paid for whatever I can come up with, and it's pushing me to be creative, and it does mean that my whole existence is precarious. But I kind of take it for granted as capitalism. And it means that on the other hand, I have the freedom to, you know, create whatever I want to create, and, and yeah, but and always that fear that like, you know, if I miss for two months in a row, then you know, it can spiral down, which means that I also have to save more and be more responsible and do all sorts of other things. But the point of that, and this will bring us I think back to the urbanism discussion, one, of course, we should, of course, acknowledge our own privilege. You and I are too high. Yeah, man, we're I mean, we're precarious. And yet

Greg Lindsay

we're highly privileged. Right. I enter high earners. So there's that part. But the second part, too, is like so I was an evangelist at this moment. We were in right digital workflow tools, this notion that worked and have to be synchronous in an office. I think, you know, when I thought about it from the perspective of cities, right, like I thought about it, like, yeah, it's crazy that we build these office skyscrapers that are never even half full at any given time and give our prime land to that. So I really I really agree with the people who are out there You and I are thinking about, like, you know, new mixed use communities, completely new rethinking uses of that. But I think what that always implied was, is that if we were free from the chains of having to be in an office all the time, and could go anywhere, we would at least be meeting other people, right? We would be decoupling processes that can be done in the cloud and stay in the cloud, and we go out into the world meet other people. I'm really worried that like, this is not the conventional wisdom is being promulgated right now. And I hope that that second part goes away. Maybe we will all shift to zoom calls and slack channels for dealing with our coworkers. But I do hope there's a moment where we will be back face to face with people, different colleagues, and doing that again, because otherwise we're just being shunted out of sight.

Dror Poleg  
Yeah, I mean, I agree. I think that you know, people know going to the office doesn't mean people not wanting to be in a city or not wanting to be near other people. One concern I have and something I'm kind of keeping an eye on and trying to think a lot about is if we can be wherever we want any for less dependent on other people. Doesn't matter. mean that the people that we will see are only people that we choose. And then it means that we don't interact with all sorts of other people, which currently, the city's forcing us to interact with. But I think it's a positive thing because it first it keeps us grounded. The second, it creates opportunities for different people to you know, first see each other as humans and also to access all sorts of opportunities, and particularly for children, I think, you know, to be exposed to all sorts of ways of lives, and to be able to move up socially and economically, if not, during their lifetimes, and at least across generations. And what I'm most worried about, is that the physical world is going to become as kind of balkanized as the online world where you know, every kind of thought leadership organization or every location will retreat into its own bubble with the people that that can afford to participate or that are relevant or chosen, and everyone else will just be left in their own bubble, but they might that bubble might fall. Behind, then there'll be kind of complete disconnect. So again, like like the new york times in a Reddit subreddit, and it will just exist in two completely different realities. And I'm seeing those things coming to the physical world basically the same distribution of people and economic activity.

Greg Lindsay

Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, you're right, as I was thinking of two scenarios, then the second one, you're that you're describing is like, yeah, right gated, gated communities and everything. That was one way of framing that physically, because it was funny, the positive version of that, when this goes back for 10 years, where it's like, you asked Americans where they wanted to live, you know, by various Pew surveys and others. I mean, they didn't want to live in New York City, and they didn't want to live in the average American suburb, they mostly want to live in college towns, which to me is one of the great ironies of that, you know, and this is a whole separate discussion that you know, American higher education is about to be annihilated as we know it for all sorts of financial and political reasons. So I worry about those college towns like Ann Arbor, and you know, that's right. And Santa Fe, you know, in a way, you know, this notion of small but highly proximate kind of thing. And, yeah, it'll be interesting to see how those spaces go there. I this is the part where it Plug, by the way of this forthcoming report on on where the millennial generation wants to raise their kids. And yeah, my hypotheses even before this was that, you know, they didn't want to stay in cities forever the housing topologies they would want for families were not there. But you know, they didn't necessarily want to do single family home cul de sacs, and they were going to continue this trend of urbanizing, the suburbs, the sort of walkable, walk ups, as Christopher Weinberger calls them and others. And I think we're all waiting to see how much that's disrupted that trend. I have some faith that they will still come back to that because of you know, wanting to be with other people in physical space in a desirable way. Now, the segregation part of that is a very interesting question about that about whether this will gap balkanize resegregate. More.

Dror Poleg  
So you just mentioned the millennial metric report, actually, another privilege of mine, I managed to had a look at you know, to try to look at the draft report, and I hope it goes out soon so everyone can read it. Can you give us a quick overview of you know, why is this report Why was it written and what are kind of the main findings?

Greg Lindsay

Well, yeah, I mean, the you know, the top line is like the millennials Of course, are turning 40 Next year, you know, they're entering, you know, 30s and 40s. They're definitely their childbearing years, what was supposed to be their peak earning years, we'll see if they ever have a peak earning years. And yeah, and of course, you know, various interests are watching to see where they will live, will they remain keep their urban preference, which seems to be real based on the review of the literature? Or will they follow their Boomer parents footsteps and move to the suburbs? And the answer, of course, is like, broadly speaking, they were always going to move to the suburbs, it's just that you know, a few percentage points difference gives you entirely new things. So it's a look at that and sort of the argument there about where they'd go profiles are five different cities, Denver, Nashville, some of the big magnets for that. And then a look at those sort of policy recommendations and also some of the market responses. So I'd say it's where you're quoted in the section on, you know, the advent of invitation homes and the sort of, you know, liquid asset class of rentable single family homes, which basically was created to cater to them. And

Dror Poleg  
I didn't even notice that by the way, I should start searching for myself in every report before I finish.

Greg Lindsay

Well, there you go. I mean, millions columns taken off the market that would have been purchased by millennials. So you know, the main takeaway, I have It was a real deep feeling of sympathy for this really maligned generation, you know, the avocado toast generation? Because Yeah, even before this crisis, you know, as many thought pieces have pointed out, their options are really constrained. So, so anyway, so you know, the recommendations are, I think are a lot of a lot of common ones, you know, a lot of stuff about, you know, how to basically perform zoning, how to increase housing supply. But if you are orthogonal, I think the crisis has proven the other essential ness of childcare that we missed, we cannot have an economy economy without functioning childcare, and so right, to have that for all are good. And also, I'm one of the people calling for canceling college debt because 90% of it is owned by the government and even the National Association of Realtors would like you to take that money and buy a house with it. So that's a few of the provocations.

Dror Poleg  
One interesting twist. It's always I mean, every conversation about cities has to mention Richard Florida at some point, I guess. And you point out, you know, the rise of the creative class, which was written as I pointed out, like a week or two ago in one of my blog posts, you know, it kind of describes the knowledge coming To me in the 21st century, but actually it's a book that was written 18 years ago when 500 million people only had access to the internet. There was no barely mobile internet, no iPhone, no Uber, no Airbnb, no Tinder. So the world seemed to have been governed by very different forces. back then. And I think the gist of that book and again, I'm not I'm not doing justice, like, everyone should read it, for sure. But the gist of it is that, you know, Millennials are kind of knowledge workers will choose where to live based on the kind of the lifestyle that they see there and not based on their jobs. So the jobs will have to follow them to wherever they want to live, and not vice versa. And what you're seeing in the report,

I'm not sure if like,

very conclusive matter, necessarily is that you know, people overwhelmingly are interested in employment opportunities, and they'll go where those are, and then everything else is kind of secondary and important.

Greg Lindsay

Yeah, this goes back to where work from home scrambles this because yeah, the the top millennial man It's based on the metric. Our partners were in Cambridge, the, you know, big developer here in Montreal, you know, yeah. I mean, they identified Orlando was the top of their metric, you know, Orlando and you know, it was like Orlando and salt lake and Austin and Nashville and Dallas Fort Worth. And, you know, it shows a Florida's hypothesis that, you know, it's hard to sort of separate the chicken and the egg there. But yeah, I mean, Salt Lake is not known as a millennial destination and creative class destination itself back office for financial firms and tech firms. So yeah, so yeah, we found that Yeah, Millennials basically wanted, they wanted affordability. They want a job growth they wanted, they want guarantees, they're a generation that's been burned, and they didn't want to get burned again, unlike the zeros, you know, are willing to follow their Muse that, you know, in Florida, I was writing that myself included, not so. So yeah, that gets the question. Oh, yeah. You know, where do they move now to and this could tie into hypothesis, I don't really believe we're going to see mass flight from the cities at levels beyond you know, the sort of tidal wave, you know, the tidal drift that we should have expected, right, people were going to leave cities as they reach childbearing age. Hmm. Be 10% more I don't think so. Maybe it's two or 3% more But yeah, you know, the thing that could scramble it is whether, you know, they see a collapse in wages, and they basically have to move to much lower cost of living in smaller towns, suburban, etc. So I don't know. But But yeah, the early results of this and so we could debate with some data is, you know, I've been seeing Yeah, The New York Times piece on basically how, you know, wholesale prices in New York fallen by I think 50% 40 54%. But I've also seen that rent in New York every year and month over month is only down 2%. And San Francisco is down 10. But Oakland's up five, so I don't know it's I think, I don't know what you see is an indicator that you trust. Absolutely. I see a lot of interesting debate between the Zillow and Redfin to the

Dror Poleg  
No. So I mean, I think Zillow and Redfin, some of the data is relevant because it's it relates to parts of the country that are still functioning, but I think for New York specifically, there's most of the market is frozen. So the transactions that are happening, I don't think tell you too much about what is coming in three months or in six months. Like even looking around me here in the suburbs, you know, any house that comes in on the market gets sold in like a week and you know, higher than the than the asking price and you know, cash only, etc. And I don't think that's necessarily because there's suddenly some amazing demand for millions of suburban houses. There's definitely a rising demand. But I think that mostly people are either like, not all of the supplies available out there. So the people that really want to buy just buying immediately. But I think once the market goes back to kind of functioning at full capacity, then it would be interesting to see what's going on. So I'm not saying that what's happening now is not indicative. I'm just saying that the data doesn't really tell me much in there. It might be pointing somewhere that is correct. But it's my also be pointing in exactly the opposite direction. And likewise, for the rental market, you know, like, I think evictions are going to be allowed again at the end of this month, I think in Brooklyn, at least. So that's going to be interesting. I think for landlords in a way they, even when they suffer, they have to pretend that they're not suffering for all sorts of reasons. I mean, they're trying to downplay Maybe the pain that they're going through and you know the the apartments that they go and list on street easy, they still put the same price. Like I we just left an apartment a few weeks ago and I just saw it listed and you know, obviously they asked the same as we paid and you know, I wish them well and hope that they get it but I think the adjustments have not been made yet. And you know, in real estate in particular the the asking price is very, very important because once you lower it sometimes it triggers all sorts of covenants and you have to go back to your lender and explain yourself so people prefer to even keep the space empty and pretend that it's worth something rather to actually get money for it then and learn what is the real market price. But going back to so So you mentioned some of the smaller cities so Nashville last in Salt Lake City. What happens to a place like New York or a place like San Francisco when even the people who were planning to move out anyway so let's say like me that you know I just started a family have a babies okay. I would have left maybe over the next five years, but I'm leaving now. And the four years, all the other people with me are all leaving together now in the next three months, so you get five years worth of migration out? What happens to those cities? And this gives them an opportunity to actually reinvent themselves to compete with those smaller college towns? Or does this kind of put them into a downward spiral that will take them another 30 years to recover from like we saw in the late 60s and 70s.

Greg Lindsay

That will say, I feel like there's like a couple of different questions there. Right. Like if you're tired, like, you know, mass migration all at once. The most indicative answer there the United States in recent history would be New Orleans after Katrina, right. So yeah, so we could we could arguably say I mean, they've had permanent population decline and obviously grievous economic wounds but I don't think any of us would say that New Orleans is over and I don't know well enough to know their finances to know if they are stricken so but yeah, but you know, New Orleans continues to exist and function. But yeah, with the larger thing is the site there is really I mean, it's not about The instead of a COVID. It's about the complete failures of government capacity and Blasio and Cuomo and they're punching Judy show. I mean, what a really, if anything, kills New York and leads to the mass exodus he described it will be the failure to reopen schools as well at that point, if you have, if you have families that have no schools to send their children and they do and they have, you know, work from home for the reliable for the foreseeable future. That might be the triggering point where they're like, why are we here? Because until then you have schools are definitely tethering I forget your if your child's not school age, correct.

Dror Poleg  
She's 10 months old. So we're trying to teach her math and reading but she's not really responding well to that just,

Greg Lindsay

you know, definitely ahead of the curve. But yeah, I know, I have to have a school aged child, the daycare child and like, yeah, like, you know, the amount of tethering that happens when you have children in school. I think well, sort of, you know, routes will anchor many of the New York families there. Yeah, I mean, it would definitely be a hammer blow if that many left at once and perhaps would cause the kind of downward spiral in taxes etc, we would see in that one, then you know, then you have the whole predictions about whether that will lead to the glorious return of the Wild 70s and you know, young people Tyler Cowen, sort of, you know, speculated, you know, of his boat on that one a bit. But, but yeah, it's with cities. We'll get back to this. I had a conversation recently with all this Brooks, who is the former city council president Denver, and yet he's actually very bullish on Denver, Denver. rents are down 10% I guess, but he thinks there's gonna be a tidal wave. This is where people want to move is Denver. Yeah. So um, so yeah, he's a big believer that they're going to get big coastal outflows into them. And we've seen that a times data, you know, your time is calculating Yorkers. I mean, yeah, there's good outflows to Dallas and Nashville and all in Charlotte and all the Sunbelt ones we talked to, although a lot of those people have mail forwarding or holing up in the Hamptons or upstate still racist. You know, do they My favorite is the brand of New Yorker who wants to move to Miami like frying pan to fire or perhaps you know, COVID to flood I will hurt him. So we'll see how well they're thinking that through but but I don't know. Yeah, I mean, I think you know, this is comes back to New York exceptionalism. I mean, I think if de Blasio Cuomo had had responded much sooner, of course, to what other people Global mega cities we're doing, the outcome would have been very different. And the only point I'll make there in addition to that is, again, we'll talk about like our cities over. I feel like so much of the discussion in the American media has been about New York, for example, ya know, Europe, definitely. In Canada, the global

Dror Poleg  
media, even by the way, I get phone calls all day from people concerned for my health and safety. And I like, it's just, we see it in the news, just like, you know, it's like everything here, all the buildings are still in place. There's no bodies on the you know, on the on the street, like,

it's like, it's New York, it's normal.

You said before we come back to cities, you actually mentioned something that I didn't plan to discuss, but we can go on a little tangent. So you mentioned that, you know, having children basically ties you down to a location. What are your thoughts on homeschooling and how that might change people's ability to move around, so But both like, I mean, not just homeschooling in the old sense of like, Okay, I'm just gonna keep my kid at home all day and Teach them, whatever to read the Bible. But in the sense of more local communities, most of the content coming out online, and then people kind of intentionally commune and you know, spend time with all sorts of other children and take part in all sorts of activities that again, that they can do in all sorts of places, not necessarily just in New York,

Greg Lindsay

I hope that you never have to homeschool your child in a pandemic. And that one, I mean, I think I think the parents are watching slash listening will not allow them to hear that. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's beyond difficult. It's, I mean, it also depends on the age of the child, right? Yeah. 10 month old, my children were 15 I think that would be very different. But seven and three are mine. And, yeah, I mean, being stripped of those support structures of school and daycare and childcare. It's, you simply cannot function in a late capitalist knowledge worker society. So we've you know, we respond to like others are creating pods and we're trying to share those are the burdens of that one. But I think few people would be you know, few civilians, you know, would be wanting to try that I think, and I'm You know, I'm not, I'm not a huge believer in MOOCs and online education. I mean, it's interesting watching the second boom, come back, maybe things will be different this time, but a lot of the early experiments didn't pan out. So I don't know. It's like an idea that could always work but never quite works out. But um, yeah, I saw your recent posts where you're you're talking about, you know, turn of the century families that we do spend season by season in different locations, like nomadic families. And yeah, I just think that the I think it's fascinating, I think another global nomads and business nomads are very interesting. But But yeah, I mean, American norms, once you have a family, there is a incredible pressure to stay rooted in place. And obviously, you know, 80% of Americans live within 20 miles of their mothers. So um, so yeah, there's a, you know, incredible pressure to stay in that thing.

Dror Poleg  
Now, fair enough. Again, it's something I'm keeping an eye on, because, obviously, like you said, even if you don't have to work at the office, there's other reasons to be around people. So I'm trying to think of how all of these other reasons are being upended by technology, you know, socializing, dating, even sex, like anything that you can suddenly do remotely or differently. is interesting to me just for academic perspective, of course. So the New York Times from this morning had has an interesting article by Farhad manjoo, suggesting a bold plan to make Manhattan car free. So he mentions that cars currently take an area that is about four times the size of Central Park. And that you know that if that area could be liberated, the city could be transformed. How realistic is such a plan? And what do you see as the main barriers to implementing something like this in a place like Manhattan or in any other kind of major dense large city?

Greg Lindsay

Well, again, in New York, it's not realistic because the leadership of New York believes in cars I mean, you know, again, de Blasio and his famous SUV caravan to go to the gym. Yeah. uomo and it's a lie. So, yeah, and the lie. Yeah. So I mean, so yeah. So, again, I mean, globally, we've seen a ton of this Paris, Milan, I mean, you know, the counter in New York and this is Paris now with voters reelected and does all those Mayor with the mandate to implement reforms. Two minutes city to make those kinds of investments, cities can do it. They have the leadership and the voter support. York does not, at least the elites don't. So, um, so yeah, I read that I read the finance piece. And you know, and I agree with a lot of in principle and yeah, you know, I mean, from a real estate perspective alone, you know, seen the various thought experiments and parklets and things. And so, yeah, I definitely think New York and other cities should think strongly about it. The one thing I want to add to that this is I would have brought up two months ago, but you know, obviously, Black Lives Matter, post church boy protests, there's been this rising voice of black planners and this that, yeah, you know, a lot of these open streets are implemented, either without their consent or community planning whether implemented very poorly. There was a great threat over the weekend, where someone biked to every single open streets in Brooklyn. And you know, the racialization of them was complete. ones that were in communities of color are basically abandoned, or the NYPD ignored the barriers and the ones in waynesburg and other sort of gentrified, Brooklyn were no urbanist playgrounds they were incredible in Skokie. How he imagined So yeah, so I think we could see

Dror Poleg  
how could this have been done differently? That's actually an interesting.

Greg Lindsay

That is controversial. It depends on you asked me first off, you know, actually having enforcement actually having buy in from the NYPD, whoever actually enforced those street closures, you know, at least temporarily would be good, having more community input and have seen a lot of pushback that you know, that streets and communities of color were closed by people who needed to drive to work because they live in transit deserts or other areas where they work out in the suburbs and retail and other pink collar jobs. So yeah, I think there needs to be a lot more consideration about how you implement those plans. But yeah, I mean, I think we're long past due consideration, parking in particular. I mean, you know, I don't I don't understand. Yeah, as a car owner. Now, I don't understand why it should be public policy for the city to subsidize my ownership of that car. That's a public policy discussion and we can retask it for a lot more people.

Dror Poleg  
Yeah. All right. So changing as the as the podcaster say, changing changing gears or switching gears. So a decade ago, almost A decade ago, you wrote you co authored a book called Eric propolis. If I can summarize it, I think the book looked at the role of airports in driving urbanization and economic development, compared to the role maybe of trains and ports and even highways in earlier centuries. So particularly the 19th and 20th. So first, is that a fair description? Or how would you summarize the kind of the main pieces?

Greg Lindsay

Yeah, there is a fair description of it. And yeah, and and, you know, more broadly, it's sort of a look at one piece of how globalization has built massive infrastructures to support it. So, yeah, the logic of global capitalism, you know, started producing cities around airports and sort of an inevitable outcome of that. And my argument was, you know, not that this was totally amazing. That was my co authors argument argument was, if we're going to do this, we should try to do it well, and this, you know, out by the airport is where you put your least desirable land uses.

Dror Poleg  
Hmm. So if you I'm not going to kind of hold you accountable to anything specific from a book from 10 years ago, but I'm actually going to throw it back to you if you wrote this book today. What would you change or add to it, given what we know now?

Greg Lindsay

I will say I literally made the joke this morning in a different interview like this, but you know, it's a city about globalization, cities and air travel. I'm currently over three on all of them right now.

Dror Poleg  
And it's temporary. I mean, more like, you know, when you look 10 years ahead,

Greg Lindsay

What's to bring? I mean, I mean, I would still argue the core of it. And this gets back to, you know, our discussion here today is the part of the core argument of the book when it comes to video conferencing like this is you know, is it Yeah, you know, as far as we have data collected by Cesar Marchetti anytime This is this who came up with Marquez constant others, we know that yeah, basically, a increases in communication lead to increases in travel, right. You can talk to many, many more people and you'll eventually see some of those people face to face for business. So you know, you they rise in lockstep. I mean, one question is, has that wall finally been broken? You know, I'm not sure it has but that's a question definitely on the table right now. The second longer term was is Yeah, I mean, you know, is Yeah, In the climate change obviously is progressed more. That's the chapter that I am not so sanguine about anymore. You know, the the airlines. Yeah, we're, you know, greenwashing themselves they fail to invest in the kind of biofuels I would love to see. I say this is a person who wrote about aviation binding carbon taxes, binding cap and trade, whatever it takes for policy measures on aviation, I think we should force them to basically pay that if only to drive for their fuel efficiency and shifts to electrification. So um, so yeah, the short answer is, is like I'm still I'm still bullish on on air travel, I still believe in the book because, yeah, we still have a global society. I think a global society is good. And it will inevitably drive nodes in that global ecosystem that will produce the forms of cities in that regard. And and you know, and we can discuss which ones are good or bad from our perspective. I mean, you know, I think Dubai is a fascinating and terrifying place. It's terrifying. It's an illiberal, or liberal ish autocracy. But yet it's also the place where the global middle class frozen out of the US and EU buyer visa regimes flock together. And Oasis for them for the last 10 years which may change now. So um so yeah, I still think it holds up in that regard I still think globalization will continue but I would definitely listen more closely to arguments that you know, we should consider about how we provision air travel how we should you know, I was always a favor of high speed rail because basically you connect high speed rail to cities and our air travel goes up.

Dror Poleg  
Alright, we're getting towards the end. So but we're gonna have a rapid fires when later so sorry,

Unknown Speaker  
the questions are only getting tougher.

Dror Poleg  
Gonna go soft again. So in let's say, in five years, what will be different in our cities? What will be the same?

Greg Lindsay

Wow. What will be different our cities? I do hope that Yeah, we will have this opportunity to rethink exactly how much street space we allocate to cars. I think that's a given. I think we're going to see the Advent I hope of your neighborhood community workspace. Place. And that's, you know that Yeah, we should de emphasize the centrality of the office in the CBD. I would love to see decentralization into denser suburbs, you know, former streetcar suburbs, etc. That's your job and therefore you could bike or walk to work that way. I think we'll see more cloud computing where, you know, I might sit next to someone who I never speak to, but we both cloud commute together and you know, therefore I'm in the I'm in the, you know, we work is dead Long live. We work camp on that one that, you know, perhaps, you know, flowers will sprout from its corpse or other things we'll see. You know, I am curious about what housing topologies will change. I don't know housing takes a long time to change that way. And I've seen various plans by others of like having mud rooms and Decameron. decontamination chambers. I don't know if that'll, if that'll stick. I'm not so sure. But I do think we've seen the need, by the way for Yeah, that, you know, we need to rethink how we provision social housing here in Montreal. That's been a major push of the government. And we know that now, for example, that the overcrowded, illegal immigrant and refugee Housing was a major factor in the infection here. I think senior housing is something that we need to have a major conversation about the United States and Canada. We fail them at every level. That entire system needs to perhaps be overhauled, and multi generational living needs to come into effect. I would say the most provocative thesis I've seen Venkatesh Rao you know, within farm and his whole crew, he's got a consulting shop now or they're sort of Confederation and and they imagine you know, these almost like multi storey intergenerational family mansions and multifamily mansions where you're living and working together and everyone else. It was a beautiful provocation. I actually kind of like liked that idea a lot. So perhaps we'll start to see the the more acceptance of that of that fluid divide there. But But, you know, I guess I'm still if we have to do density versus dispersal, centripetal versus centrifugal, I'm still on the side of centripetal because even if we see this uptick in delivery and other sort of automated services, it's more efficient for them to operate in, in denser physical areas, etc. So, and I should say this is all prefaced on the fact that this will be a pandemic and there will be a vaccine to it and we will have more people Dennis in the immediate future, all bets are off the table if the robotic plague in Mongolia now starts to spread.

Dror Poleg  
Yeah, yeah, one, one point that came up in your comments now, which is interesting, because I've heard it from a few different directions. And it's also something that I've been feeling in my personal life is that suddenly, you know, multi generational households are becoming interesting and relevant again. So I spent the last three and a half months with my mother in law and my wife and my daughter, and my female cat. So and I have to say, it was very pleasant and enjoyable, I think, for all of us for different reasons. And it made us start to reconsider things that we didn't even think about not things that we've been dismissed, but stuff that we never thought we should even consider. And, and I'm hearing this from other people, and I think that more and more people are kind of thinking, Okay, even if I move out of the city, or whether I stay in the city, I maybe need a different kind of housing product. And on the one hand, you have these boomers who, even though we talked about millennials being Liking death, etc. The boomers also experienced 2008. And they also experienced March 2020. And actually, most of them are not on Robin Hood. So most of them actually sold everything they had at the end of March and ran away for their lives. So they didn't even enjoy the the kind of wave of the last two months. And if I was about to retire now, obviously I wouldn't like I would take all of my money out of the stock market. And then you have the millennials who want to live somewhere. And as you said, maybe they need more childcare and need more help. And clearly, the government is not going to step in and do anything meaningful there anytime soon, at least not in the US. So it looks like there's an alignment of interest. That also I think we should keep an eye on in the coming years. So before we finish, let's do a rapid fire. So I'm going to give you five terms one by one, and just give me a quick thought, a word the sentence, etc.

American suburbs

Greg Lindsay

…are going to look more and more like cities

Dror Poleg  
Canada

Greg Lindsay Canada is going to be the superpower of the 21st century.

Dror Poleg  
We work

Unknown Speaker  
we work a noble experiment who will look back fondly as a progenitor of a whole new generation of farmers.

Dror Poleg  
boomers.

Greg Lindsay Okay, boomers.

Dror Poleg  
And one last thing we actually didn't mention today, so drones.

Greg Lindsay
Ddrones will be NIMBYs out of existence by Americans who will not be able to stand that high pitched noise.

Dror Poleg  
Wow. All right. So we have a lot to, to come back to in a few years and see whether we were right or wrong. Thank you so much for this, Greg. I really enjoyed it. You've been the first guest of the rejuvenated and requested rethinking podcast. I hope it was enjoyable for you as well. And for our listeners. It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me, joy. Thank you and see you soon.

Cover photo by Brandon Jacoby on Unsplash