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Youth – topos 124

Theresa Ramisch

Young people can be wild and provocative – and sometimes they can be prone to questionable wardrobe choices. This image captures these aspects in an unusual way and absolutely inspired us to select this issue’s design pattern.

Cover photo: Sebastian Pociecha

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The 124th issue of topos puts a fairly unknown demographic in the spotlight: The people in our urban landscapes who have outgrown childhood but are not yet truly adults: Our youth – the future of ourcities. What does this future look like? What do we have to adjust to? What will become of our world when the next generation takes over the reins? Who is this next generation anyway? In this issue, we take a look at the urban teenagers of our time.

What makes the kids who will be steering the fortunes of our world in a few years tick? What do teens expect from metropolitan cities? How are teens shaping our planet’s biggest cities, and what can we look forward to in the coming years? In order to answer these and many other questions, we not only talked to high-ranking urban planners, decision-makers and experts about the youth in our cities, but also gave young people themselves a voice.

In topos 124, you will also get exciting insights into how youth are faring in Stockholm, Toronto and Singapore, and what measures are being taken in different cities to support youth in the best possible way.

The Judicial Scandal of the Century

Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise and Raymond Santana. In 1989 five black and Latino male teenagers from Harlem – all aged between 14 and 16 – were wrongly convicted of raping a 28-year-old white female jogger in New York City’s Central Park. Four of them were sentenced to maximum terms for juveniles. Korey Wise had been held in facilities and served fourteen years in prison until 2002 when DNA analysis identified the actual perpetrator, Matias Reyes, who acted alone in 1989 (at the age of 18) and had no connection to the five named teenagers.

The Central Park Five

The case of the “Central Park Five” is a horror story hat became reality for five young teenagers of color, their families, and friends. An act of racism, intimidation, and police violence. It is an absolute worst-case scenario and an extreme example. But still today, many people perceive groups of teenagers on our metropolitan areas – weather of color or not – as dangerous and unpredictable. Including myself. These youngsters usually do no end up in prison, thank goodness, but they are not met with an open mind either. Even though many of them are almost still children, who need our support, our protection.

Young People From All Over the World

From the perspective of urban planning, we on the topos editorial team have to note: These are hardly any scientific studies on young people in our cities, the age group of about 13 years and older. Many projects are aimed at children, that is true. But teenagers hardly get any further attention. It seems that this age group is a blind spot in urban development. And this is the reason, why we needed to do this issue.

For this topos, we spoke with Connie Chan, Gregg Lintern, Keith Howard, Victoria Nordholm – city leaders in New York City, Stockholm and Toronto about the needs of young people and also had a closer look at these cities in terms of a youth-friendly metropolis. We talked to young people in Budapest, Médina Yoro Foulah, Munich and Prague about their wishes. our goal: to find out what defines a youth-friendly city, what the challenges of young people are, what is currently shaping them – like TikTok and Instagram – and to let them speak for themselves.

A Journey Back in Time

This issue is a plea not to forget the young in our metropolises and cities, those between 11 and 25 – as difficult and diverse they may seem to be. It’s a reminder that wer were all once loutish, a bit embarrassing, and above all, oddly dressed. And this topos in an appeal that teenagers still need our collective attention, our care, our trust, and our protection so that they can find their own way in this complex world. Certainly, not every teenager has a safe, caring home. Especially in this case, a city, its streets, subway stations, sport grounds become their living rooms, kitchen and sometimes even their bedroom.

I would like to end my editorial with two questions for you, dear reader. First in retrospect, what was the worst thing you wore as a teenager? and second: what age were you when you felt truly grown up for the first time? Feel free to share this with me via e-mail – or just simply enjoy the little journey back in time.

Get the topos 124 – Youth  – here.

Our last issue dealt with the critical phenomenon “climate migration”. How are cities dealing with the increasing number of climate refugees? Are there working concepts to develop new living spaces for these refugees in the already overcrowded big cities? Find approaches to the answers in the editorial of our topos 123 – “climate migration”.

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