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The Bristol Cable

Our new Future of Cities series explained

How do we build cities fit for the future and rebuilt trust in the media? Our new project exploring solutions to the major problems facing cities, from Bristol and beyond.

Future of Cities

Over the next year, the Cable will investigate solutions to Bristol’s problems. As part of a major project called The Future of Cities, we will ask: How can we develop cities fit for the future?

Bristol faces the same challenges as other cities: housing insecurity, food and fuel poverty, and unequal access to public transport. We will examine these three topics, one at a time, starting with housing. 

What is ‘solutions journalism’?

In an ever gloomier world, more of us are regularly doomscrolling or even avoiding the news altogether. Arguably, the Cable plays its part in that too, given our commitment to exposing wrongdoing and injustice.

This is why we want to write more about solutions to the problems we face in Bristol, and in other cities like it. People need to know more than just what’s wrong – we need to know how we can fix it. 

Solutions journalism is rigorous reporting on responses to social problems. This can be more constructive and hopeful than lots of journalism out there. But this doesn’t mean puff pieces or fluff, it means going beyond writing about the problem, and covering potential solutions in a challenging way.

Why is this worth doing?

With half of the world’s population currently living in cities – a number expected to increase to more than two-thirds of people by 2050 – solutions for sustainable development must be found in cities. And perhaps more importantly, they need to be shared.

We will uncover the roots of these big problems cities are facing, ask if successful solutions from other cities can be applied to Bristol, and amplify grassroots solutions being pioneered closer to home.

We live in one of the most centralised countries in Europe. Local councils’ powers are severely limited, and their scope for action has been further weakened by the last decade’s cuts to central government funding. This is why we will be looking at solutions on a range of levels, from what community action can achieve, to what councils and other organisations can do and, ultimately, what requires action at government level. 

Can solutions journalism rebuild trust in the media?

When trust in the media is so low, and traditional business models are failing, we not only want to pioneer solutions journalism for our members and readers, but also so that other local papers can learn from us. 

Rebuilding trust in the media is a mammoth task, but we believe solutions journalism that is both challenging and constructive can be a piece of the puzzle. That’s why throughout this project, we will record and share what we’ve learned.

The end goal is more quality local journalism that leaves us feeling empowered as readers, instead of doomscrolling or switching off altogether.

What is to come?

Over the last few months, we’ve been researching solutions to the housing crisis with the help of specialist reporters and local experts. And so we’re excited to bring you the first story in this series: How social housing regeneration projects, co-designed with local communities, can empower council tenants to help build the estates of the future. You can also read an expert’s take on why cities can play a pivotal role in finding a sustainable future.

There will be much more to come in the next few months. We’re currently researching other important topics relating to housing solutions, including community-led housing, rent controls and retrofitting.

Then towards the end of the year, we will move onto the next topic: public transport. 

How can I support this project?

  1. Sign up to our newsletter to get the next instalment straight to your inbox.
  2. Have your say by answering our callout on what issues most urgently need solutions.
  3. Join our discussion forum: Are you involved in housing in some way? Share your knowledge and shape the direction of our future coverage of solutions to the housing crisis. Request to join it by emailing: matty@thebristolcable.org
  4. Share the series with local politicians: Councillors have a leading role in turning ideas into political action, so get in touch with them and use your democratic voice! The more people who read this story, the greater the chance it’ll have an impact. Share it!
  5. Help us do this important reporting in the long term: We produce journalism worth supporting. But, ultimately, it’s only through more local people becoming members that we will be able to sustain this in the long term. So if you’re not yet a member, join 2,600 others to help sustain local journalism.

The Future of Cities project is funded by the European Journalism Centre’s Solutions Journalism Accelerator, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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