A B O U T U S
A winner of the Knight Cities Challenge, the Urban Consulate launched in 2016 as a network of parlors for urban exchange. Since then, we've hosted over 150 conversations in Detroit, Philadelphia & New Orleans to bring people together & share ideas for better cities. What's next? Read on below—
After a two-year pilot, we are looking for the right partners to grow. We've tested the idea, we've seen what works & what doesn't, and we're excited to connect even more people who love cities and want to improve the places they live. Interested in hosting a Consulate space or event in your city? Here's what you need to know—
1. Who We Are
We are people who are passionate about cities. Not just the physical city—the social & civic life of a community, too. We don't believe you can talk about cities without addressing racial, class & gender equity. It's in everything we do.
By amplifying voices & ideas, and promoting a culture of learning, we create more informed & engaged communities— and a greater sense of belonging & connection, too.
2. What We Do
We host all kinds of programs for city dwellers & travelers.
Our signature events are Parlor Talks & City Lobby—but we've also hosted dinner & dialogues, tea & wine tastings, an urbanism book club, film screenings, Jane's Walks, James Baldwin Hour, cross-city fieldtrips & exchanges, video & podcast recording sessions, focus groups & workshops, co-working hours, civic group meetings & more.
We've welcomed famous national thought leaders—and almost-famous local ones. We've popped up in storefront cafes for neighborhood conversations, and met outside in public parks. We once hosted a Connect Four tournament & turned our front porch into a music stage. We like to mix it up.
3. How It Works
Every new location starts with three things—a home, a host & a champion:
- Home: A historic space in a walkable neighborhood
- Host: A local urbanist with a passion for people & ideas
- Champion: A visionary leader who understands the value of talent retention & attraction, leadership development, and an empowered & engaged citizenry.
After a two-year pilot supported by Knight Foundation, we know who we are—and what we're not. We are not an exclusive private club or a startup accelerator. We are a space for intimate, inclusive & intelligent conversations about the city.
An open door matters to us a lot. Locals & travelers welcome.
4. Why It Matters
“It used to be that people were born as part of a community and had to find their place as individuals. Now people are born as individuals, and have to find their community.” —Bill Bishop
We believe people who love cities is a "big tent" constituency—but too often are separated by sector, identity, or geography. From designers & developers to artists & activists, we all share a passion for place and have much to learn from one another.
Bigger picture: We've all seen the alarming research—Americans are growing more isolated & divided. Membership in civic groups is declining, while tension between city newcomers & longtimers is rising. This is dangerous for our social fabric & civic life.
People need places to come together—and to be invited, too.
5. What People Say
“One of my favorite intellectual social spaces in Detroit.”
This is how Detroit real estate broker Tanya Stephens described the Consulate to her friends on Facebook. Thank you, Tanya.
We listen to our guests. They're smart and know best what conversations need to be had. From local speakers & topics, to out-of-town experts, to new event formats—dinner & dialogues, neighborhood pop-ups, city fieldtrips & more—our programs are shaped by the communities we serve.