The Urbanist is led by a core staff of eight members. But a number of members also strongly support many of the organization’s ongoing activities through local advocacy and publication. Many of our readers and supporters have also stepped up to provide their thoughts and expertise, often through one-off pieces, on wide ranging topics like public space, social welfare, transportation, land use and zoning, economics, and much more. But, our typical lineup of content comes from organizational staff and regular contributors. If you’re interested in sharing your skills as a contributor or editor, learn how you can contribute and let us know.
Owen Pickford, Executive Director
Owen does servicing and consulting for a software company to pay the bills. He spends the majority of his free time learning and writing about urban policy. Owen started grassroots advocacy in 2004, organizing over 400 volunteers in 3 counties for a presidential campaign. Since then he’s continued volunteering for political organizations, cycling and transit groups. Owen primarily follows and writes about housing issues. Follow him @pickovven or send him an e-mail.
Stephen Fesler, Publication Director
Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for promoting sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He advocates for smart policies, regulations, and implementation programs that enhance urban environments by committing to quality design, accommodating growth, providing a diversity of housing choices, and adequately providing public services. Stephen primarily writes about land use and transportation issues. Follow him @safesler or send him an e-mail.
Ben Crowther, Policy and Legislative Affairs Director
Ben is a Seattle area native, living with his husband downtown since 2013. He started in queer grassroots organizing in 2009 and quickly developed a love for all things political and wonky. When he’s not reading news articles, he can be found excitedly pointing out new buses or prime plots for redevelopment to his uninterested friends who really just want to get to dinner. Ben primarily writes about political issues. Follow him @BenCrowther or send him an e-mail.
Sarah Oberklaid, Creative and Design Director
Sarah is an urban planner and artist from Melbourne, Australia, and for a long time called Seattle “home.” She has contributed to diverse long-term projects addressing housing, transportation, community facilities, heritage and public spaces with extensive consultation with communities and other stakeholders. Her articles for The Urbanist focus on her passion for the design of sustainable, inviting and inclusive places, drawing on her research and experiences around the world. Follow her @drawntocities.
Scott Bonjukian, Education and Programming Director
Scott Bonjukian is a car-free urban designer with a passionate interest in sustainable and efficient cities. With degrees in architecture and urban planning, his many interests include neighborhood design, public space and street design, transit systems, pedestrian and bicycle planning, local politics, and natural resource protection. He primarily cross-posts from his blog at The Northwest Urbanist and advocates for a variety of progressive land use and transportation solutions. Follow him @nwurbanist.
*Current Board of Directors for The Urbanist.
Aleksandra Culver, Editor and Webmaster
Aleksandra (Aleks) is a software engineer who moonlights as a writer and copy editor. Aleks’s love of cities started as a child, when she would ride the commuter rail into Boston with her family for day trips. Her mission is to share that love with the world, by ensuring that our cities have a place for everyone. Aleks primarily writes about transportation and land use. She is also the webmaster. Follow her @schala09.
Ryan Packer, Senior Editor
Ryan Packer lives in the Summit Slope neighborhood of Capitol Hill. He is on the board of the Friends of Pike Place Market, and writes about transportation issues at Capitol Hill Seattle. He believes in using Seattle’s history to attain the vibrant, diverse city that we wish to inhabit. Follow him @typewriteralley.
Doug Trumm, Senior Editor
Doug Trumm is a senior editor at The Urbanist. He joined the exodus to Seattle in 2014, leaving behind his home state of Minnesota. Volunteering with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and serving as an alternate on his local neighborhood association ignited his interest in urbanism. Reading urban planning greats like Jane Jacobs stoked that fledgling fire to an inferno. Living on disputed land between Wallingford and Fremont, he is doing his best to improve both neighborhoods. Follow him @dmtrumm.
Community Advocates and Syndicated Contributors
Caelen Ball, Neighborhood Advocate
Caelen is a third generation son of Ballard. When he was in high school, his parents moved the family out to beautiful Bainbridge Island where he found himself missing urban life–homesickness for Seattle continued on into his college pursuits. Classically trained in structural engineering with an emphasis in earthquake design, he loves steel, glass, and concrete. He primarily writes about Ballard land use (hopefully home to future TOD) and Sound Transit packages, both emphasizing long-range planning.
Laura Bernstein, Neighborhood Advocate
Laura Anderle Bernstein is an educator, musician, and gardener from Colombia/NY/LA/Chicago who has lived in Seattle for almost seven years. Her work includes a stint as Co-Editor of the UCLA Undergraduate Science Journal, and the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association’s newsletter, The Roosie. She currently volunteers with Sierra Club’s Seattle Group, University District Racial Equity Project, Tent City Collective, U District Renters’ Council and tweets as SEAyimby. Additionally, she is a member of the 2015-2016 cohort of the City of Seattle’s People’s Academy for Community Engagement. She is a renter in the U District. Follow her @yimbySEA.
Charles Bond, Neighborhood Advocate
Charles is an avid cyclist that uses his bike as his primary mode of transportation. He grew up in the Puget Sound, but previously spent time overseas living in Japan. He covers a range of topics like cycling, transit, and land use. His time in Tokyo really opened his eyes to what urbanism offers people and has a strong desire to see growth happen in Seattle. Follow him @Charles_B_STB.
Nathan Vass, Syndicated Contributor
Nathan is a Seattle-based photographer and film director with over twenty shows and eight films under his belt. In addition, he holds a side job as a Metro bus driver, which he enjoys almost as much as his film work—if not slightly more so! He is a two-time winner of Metro’s Operator of the Month award and holds a record number of commendations. His blog, The View From Nathan’s Bus, which has been featured on Slog, the Stranger’s news and arts blog, KPLU, and The Seattle Times, details his adventures on the road.
Gordon Werner, Neighborhood Advocate
Gordon is a native New Yorker who wisely chose to leave the Northeast in the early 1990s. A past resident of Belltown, and Queen Anne, he currently calls First Hill home. He is a board member of the First Hill Improvement Association (FHIA) as well as the FHIA Transportation Committee Chair and is constantly looking for ways to improve transportation up the hill. Follow him @GordonWerner.
Chuck Wolfe, Syndicated Contributor
Chuck is an attorney and educator from Seattle that is well known for his expertise in permitting, land use, and environmental law. He enjoys the unique qualities of urban life and cities, which he passionately shares through photography and writing. He is always inspired by his travels and has a knack for telling reflective and thoughtful stories. From his blog, myurbanist, he publishes his work and contributes to a wide array of publications such as The Atlantic and The Huffington Post. In May 2013, he released his first book, Urbanism Without Effort.
Guy joined The Urbanist in 2014 and served as a Staff Contributor until Summer 2015. While now back in metropolitan Paris, he came to us by way of his time living in Bellevue. Growing up in the Paris metropole, he fell in love with and learned from some of the best rail systems in Europe. Translating his experiences from abroad to Seattle, Guy was passionate about improving this region’s public transit (especially marine-based transportation) and cycling infrastructure. He enjoys photography and music, and one day hopes to be an urban planner.
Ben was a former editor and board member of The Urbanist. In early 2014, he helped found the organization to become a platform for shaping public policy on a wide range of urban issues. He set out to provide a medium to share ideas, educate, and spur people to advocate for positive change. His efforts were integral to connecting people together for common causes and goals. In November 2014, Ben decided to step down from his role in order to focus on his passion for activism.
The Urbanist ElectionS Board is a standing committee that conducts candidate interviews and weighs in on candidates and measures. Current voting members include: Laura Bernstein, Scott Bonjukian, Ben Crowther, Aleksandra Culver, Ryan Packer, Owen Pickford, and Doug Trumm. You can read our archive of past endorsements and interviews.
The Urbanist has been fortunate to have many different individuals share their voices about urbanism. Guest pieces have come from all of the following: Julia Abelev, Jon Alexander, Hana Aličić, Anton Babadjanov, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, Austin Bell, Wanda Bertram, Alberta Bleck, Alex Brennan, Alex Broner, Councilmember Tim Burgess, Scott Burton, Charles Cooper, Ryan Countryman, Robert Cruickshank, David Dahl, Jim Davis, Drew Dresman, Alex-jon Earl, Mike Eliason, Nick Etheredge, Nick Ferris, John Fleck, Matt Gangemi, Michael Goldman, Will Green, Caleb Heeringa, Troy Heerwagen, David Hehyawi, Elliot Helmbrecht, Marlon Herrera, Erin House, Michael Houston, Jared Howe, Brock Howell, Councilmember Rob Johnson, Susan Jones, Chris Karnes, Yoonshin Kwak, Keith Kyle, Cody Little, Bert Louthian, Michelle Ma, Michael Maddux, Erika Malone, Tony Mazzella, Beau Morton, Rebecca Mouy, Matt Neilson, David Neiman, Gordon Padelford, Brendon Parsons, Ethan Phelps-Goodman, Kirk Rappe, Brian Robinson, Christopher Ross, Cecilia Roussel, Rebecca Saldaña, Andres Salomon, Jon Sayer, Will Schlough, Damon Shadid, Lucas Simons, James Slone, Renee Staton, Josh Steiner, Cathy Tuttle, Nick Welch, Leila Willoughby-Oakes, and Marco Zangari.
We’ve also had guest pieces from organizations like Feet First, Get Engaged 2016-17 Cohort, Homestead, Housing Now Seattle, Lid I-5, Seattle For Everyone, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Seattle Subway, and Young Planners Group Puget Sound.