City Limits, our editorial series exploring the ever-changing urban experience is back, and this time we’re venturing away from the ‘powerhouse’ cities...

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In our first ever City Limits, in late 2018, the headline stat was one of phenomenal urban growth: 30 percent of the global population living in cities in 1950; 53 percent today; an estimated 66 percent by 2050. Then came the pandemic and an incredible shift to the narrative: suddenly cities were done-for, apparently surplus to human needs. 

We doubt that somehow. We’re as certain as can be that urban environments still hold many of the solutions we seek, still cultivate progressive thinking; and – as per our company maxim – still are where so many things become culturally-charged. Yet, as much as we do love the sheer clout of the heavyweight cities (we’ve chosen a few for our office locations, after all), we recognise that now, more than ever, small can be beautiful and the outer fringes can be stimulating.

Hence this issue is all about cities in terms beyond just scale, might and ‘powerhouse’ credentials. The smaller cities, where great ideas permeate through amicable communities and life becomes more liveable; the suburbs, where codes of social consciousness are now bubbling to the surface (thanks, Real Housewives Of Atlanta). We examine the diffusion of startup culture, share our love letters to small(ish) cities around the world and celebrate the challenger sounds of the tier twos. But we also ask, just how do you keep things weird when your once unchecked conurbation is routinely popping up in Monocle’s Small Cities lists?

Thanks, as ever, to the many amazing City Limits contributors – truly a team effort across all of our offices, and testament to how passionately and articulately we report on culture. Whether thinking big or small, centre or fringes, we cannot wait to get started on issue eight.

Andy Crysell, Crowd DNA founder.