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103 | Considering Just Transit for a Just City

Alissa Walker is a journalist and design advocate well-known for her work on urbanism and mobility. After a brief stint in advertising, Walker began a career where “every day includes some combination of walking, writing and consuming gelato.” Her writing, speaking and advocacy examines issues of mass-transit, accessibility, climate change and other pressing urban issues.

103 | Considering Just Transit for a Just City

Her insights are hallmarked by an unusual practice: exploring Los Angeles on foot. Understanding Los Angeles through the lens of a pedestrian has led to deep and broad insights about contemporary urbanism. While most of our cities privilege automobiles to some degree, Los Angeles is globally famous for its traffic and lengthy commutes. As a result of car culture – in LA and elsewhere – many of us experience our architecture and our cities at the speed of traffic, losing important details in the process.

Understanding these issues from the scale of the pedestrian is not merely a stylistic choice. Walker’s work frequently examines designs of transit systems as an issue of exclusion, social justice and plain livability. When urban dwellers are forced to spend hours and hours just to connect affordable neighborhoods with decent paying jobs, it takes a toll on them, the environment, and the city social fabric as a whole. Creating the healthy and equitable city is an ongoing process, requiring regular examination and critique.

Walker provides both from her current position as the urbanism editor at Curbed. She has previously written for Dwell, Fast Company, GOOD, Gizmodo, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, as well worked on the KCRW public radio show DnA: Design and Architecture. She has been named a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow for her writing on design and urbanism, Journalist of the Year by Streets blog Los Angeles, and in 2015 received the Design Advocate award from the LA chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Beyond journalism, she is also the co-founder of design east of La Brea, a nationally recognized nonprofit which hosts design events in Los Angeles.

We were fortunate to have Alissa join us on Social Design Insights, to talk about transit accessibility, inequality and making change.


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our opening theme music for 2019 is "Bang Bang" and our closing theme is "Salvame" both by Eljuri from her album "La Lucha." The break music for this episode is "Court and Spark" by Joni Mitchell from her album "Court and Spark."