Dive Deeper into Beyond Concrete: Editor’s Letter

June 6, 2023

Brian Sholis, guest editor, introduces our new Beyond Concrete story series, and frames this series of essays and interviews that will roll out all summer long.

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Cliché has it that the city is a “concrete jungle.” But in the popular imagination, concrete prevails. Downtown is a place of stone and glass; full of long, flat surfaces and sharp angles; and populated by different networks: of people, of transit options, of waste, water, electricity, and other infrastructure. Beyond Concrete, the overarching theme of The Bentway’s summer 2023 programming, asks: What if we instead emphasized the jungle? This suggests how urban networks are not closed systems but interact with and impact one another. It acknowledges that crucial to them all is their reliance on the land, other species, the atmosphere, and the weather. When we think of the Amazon jungle, we think of interdependence. What becomes possible when we recognize that the jungle’s connections and mutual responsibility also characterize our most vibrant cities? When we acknowledge that those relationships and roles actually create the vibrancy?

For the next four months, we’ll publish essays, interviews, and other stories that explore these themes and highlight projects that begin to answer these questions. You’ll hear from the artists featured in The Bentway’s summer programs, but also encounter reports from Sao Paulo and Seoul. We’ll talk with the authors of exciting new books and host our own live book-club event. Many of the stories will be accompanied by audio, whether it’s interviews, field recordings, or music playlists. And we’ll solicit your input at Bentway events and through social media. When you dare to think “beyond concrete,” what visions of the city come to mind?

Brian Sholis
Guest editor and editor of Frontier Magazine