At this moment of epic political gridlock at the national level, localism is back. Increasingly, cities are devising local solutions to the pressing challenges of the 21st century — from transportation and housing affordability to climate change. But localism can also lead to gridlock, especially in rapidly growing cities.
I have observed this in my hometown of Seattle, where a building boom is dramatically reshaping city life and policy conflicts abound. Across both face-to-face and social-media encounters, it seems ever more difficult to achieve consensus on a form of the city amenable to older and newer residents alike. A new tool — the “urban diary” — can contribute to breaking the gridlock by helping to forge a pluralistic vision of the kind of city that people want to inhabit.