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The Way We Work Now

In California, I’ve seen a spike in landlords looking for creative excuses to evict tenants

The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.

Frances Campbell is a housing rights attorney in Los Angeles and has been practicing law for 20 years. She spoke with Mai Tran about how tenants in California can protect themselves when facing eviction in the midst of a pandemic.

My firm represents tenants in lawsuits against landlords. We do a lot of wrongful eviction and fraudulent eviction cases where a landlord says to a tenant, “You have to move because my mom’s moving in,” and then mom doesn’t…


We made all our cities look the same, then Covid-19 hollowed them out

New York skyline against a blue and silver background.
New York skyline against a blue and silver background.

There’s perhaps no better time than now to read Metropolis, historian Ben Wilson’s new book about global urban development and the cosmopolitan existence. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic prompted many to flee cities for greener pastures, metropolitan migration had been stagnating. That’s a shame, Wilson argues, because cities offer the best of humanity: the bustle, the culture, the community. Looking at 26 different cities across the world, Wilson offers a sprawling account that acts as a showcase for the ingenuity that thrives in our skyscrapered incubators.

GEN spoke with Wilson about his inspiration to write the book and how the…


A hand holding a Polaroid photo of NYC up to the NYC skyline at evening.
A hand holding a Polaroid photo of NYC up to the NYC skyline at evening.

Welcome to New York City’s #NoFilter era

A running joke on social media among New Yorkers who stayed put for the pandemic roller coaster ride these last seven months is to match evidence of joyful city life that has exploded everywhere against proclamations of the city’s death. “New York Is Dead!” run the headlines next to photos of streets teeming with outdoor diners and shots of Central Park’s Great Lawn full of masked New Yorkers socially distanced in the late autumn sun. This outcry kicks into overdrive every time the president gets in on the doomsday action, as he did again during Thursday’s debate: “Take a look…


For older institutions, survival necessitates a certain degree of transformation

Nestled on the corner of West 4th and West 12th streets in Manhattan’s West Village is the forest green facade of a very small, very well-known bar. Cubbyhole has been a locale central to New York City lesbian nightlife (and broader lesbian lore) since Tanya Saunders opened it in 1994.

Cubbyhole’s popularity is increasingly rare among bars of its kind; pre-Covid-19, there were only 16 lesbian bars left in the entire country. …


The Way We Work Now

When New Yorkers started fleeing the city to escape the pandemic, moving companies swept in to pack up their lives

The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.

Louis, 22, works for a moving company based in Brooklyn. After Covid-19 spread to New York, he worked seven days a week, moving up to four apartments a day as people fled the city. Louis spoke with Mai Tran about returning to work after he and his family, all essential workers, believed they caught Covid.

I joined the moving company three years ago. I needed to make extra money because I was going to Kingsborough Community College to study…


The failure to respond to the Covid housing crisis has created an eviction catastrophe for vulnerable renters

It’s a Thursday morning in July at the Jackson County Circuit Court in Kansas City, Missouri and Judge Mary Weir is running one of four landlord-tenant dockets processing housing cases — usually landlords seeking to evict their tenants. These state courtrooms, which typically try cases involving payday lenders and financial companies, move fast. Advocates defending renters describe them as assembly lines, and Judge Weir isn’t in the mood to wait.

“It is now 9:30 a.m., this is a landlord-tenant docket,” she says. “Folks, if you’re on the phone as a defendant, you should know you do have the right to…


Many of our coastal cities are imperiled, but none have plotted an escape quite as audacious as Jakarta’s

I. The capital of catastrophe

In the 17th and 18th centuries, European workers flocked by the thousands to a faraway colonial Dutch port later to be known as Jakarta. The lure of the tough, six-month ocean journey was easy enough to see: seemingly limitless island forests of clove and nutmeg, spices that commanded a fortune back home. But half died horribly within months of getting there, numbering 2,000 and more victims a year. The main culprit was malaria, but the colonizers also succumbed to typhus, cholera, dysentery, and dengue fever. …


The pandemic may have accelerated migration from urban centers, but neighborhoods are keeping city life alive.

It pained Lynette Morrow that she was considering leaving Manhattan for the suburbs. But then again, nothing felt like it did before. “It’s not going back to normal,” she told the New York Times. “This is now going to be normal.” Mariam Zadeh, also from Morrow’s neighborhood of Battery Park City, felt the same way. “We love Manhattan and will continue to love Manhattan,” she said. “Maybe one day we will return. But for the near future, I can’t envision living down there.” …


Gendered issues from public restrooms to accessible transit require work that we could use this time to solve

So much about the way cities are designed is supposed to make life easier — but for whom? In most cases, the answer is able-bodied, middle-class white males. From stroller-unfriendly transit stations to geographies that don’t put schools, homes, social services, and work in the same neighborhoods, the average city makes life more inconvenient for women, and particularly so for mothers.

In her new book Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World, scholar Leslie Kern explains all the hidden ways that urban planning can make life harder for women, from unequal snowplowing routes to the unintended consequences of mixed-income…


In Covid mode, a personal vehicle feels like the ultimate PPE

In the eyes of many urbanists, the great global pause of the pandemic has been an opportunity for cities to reshape themselves along more livable lines. Cities from Berlin to Bogotá have been reapportioning road space to accommodate more cyclists and walkers, who were suddenly free to move in cleaner air. Vancouver recently mandated a minimum 11% reallocation of current road space to “people-focused public space.” In my own corner of Brooklyn, certain streets were suddenly designated as “shared,” meaning they were theoretically closed to all but local traffic. As people strolled down the socially distant thoroughfares, they waved to…

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