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What makes cities memorable, reputable, attractive? What associations does a city hold in the collective global psyche? If you could choose any city in the world to live in, which would it be, and what are the values you associate with it?


As cities engage in expansive growth and intense competition to attract highly skilled and creative mobile populations and investment, urban branding has become a tool for city governments to vie for visibility as they forge their unique identity in global networks. However, urban branding has often relied on creating a kind of homogenous imagery, with all cities flaunting the same things – extravagant skylines, presence of startups, mega-events, hint of a fashion scene, and a vibey downtown culture with hipster coffee shops and farm-to-table restaurants. But does that really reflect how successful a city is? Or can urban branding embrace the value of giving power to everyday people to create a far more powerful urban narrative while influencing both the values we respect in cities and how we consume as city-zens, tackling social agendas while fostering economic growth?


JT Singh talks to us of this ethos around urban branding, which will be demonstrated in his three-minute city branding film on Shanghai which embraces the street level, human values of the city in his attempt to capture its soul. He will share his experience of working with city governments in Asia and globally, and how cities that deeply understand the distinct sentiments of their people, economic raw strenghts, their urban fabric, histories/futures, developmental characteristics, and so forth, are the cities that can better implement truly relevant and deeply symbolic civic innovation. Realising a city's deep-rooted urban identity, and leveraging it and shaping it to serve the city's well-being and greatness, is the prerogative of every civic leader and the opportunity of every city dweller.

About the Speaker:


JT Singh is a Canadian media artist and urban futurist focused on bridging the gaps between technology, urbanization and culture. He leads JT Singh Labs, an eclectic group of urbanists and creative technologists working on urban transformation projects that help cities powerfully engage with their global context, through powerful media and strategy. Many of JT's cross-disciplinary projects are innovative firsts and often set the standard for the rest of the creative media world. He has worked with local governments in North America, Asia, and Europe, including Shanghai, Tokyo, Toronto, Tianjin, Lithuania, Pyongyang, Fuzhou, etc. His work has been featured in media publications such as the BBC, Time, National Geographic, Vice, CNN, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Mashable, Quartz, China Daily, The Guardian and more.



Convenor: Parul Rewal


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