Podcast #73: March 13, 2021

Author and government strategist Beth Sanders joins me today on The Economy of Well-being Podcast to discuss her ideas for improving city ‘nest-making’ and well-being across our neighbourhoods.

Beth recently published her first book titled Nest Cities: How Citizens Serve Cities and Cities Serve Citizens.

Beth has developed a mastery in municipal strategic planning having recently helped our city, Edmonton, develop a new strategic plan called ConnectEdmonton which sets the direction for Edmonton’s future and vision for Edmonton in 2050.

Beth Sanders MCP RPP is the author of Nest City: How Cities Serve Citizens and Citizens Serve Cities. She is an award-winning city planner, including the International Integral City Meshworker of the Year in 2013.

At 21 years old, Jane Jacobs served as the spark to help Beth find her passion: to learn about, understand and support the relationship we have with cities and with each other in our cities. At city planning school, she began to notice the work that called to her.

She has worked for municipalities across Western Canada, including as general manager of planning and development in Fort McMurray, in the heart of the oil sands, when it was the fastest growing municipality in North America in the mid-2000s.

In 2007 she founded POPULUS to shepherd efforts to make city habitats that serve citizens well. Beth is a fourth-generation settler of English, Irish and Norwegian descent living in the territory of the Treaty 6 First Nations and the homelands of the Métis people.

She makes herself at home in Edmonton, a welcoming city where the first footsteps that marked this place belonged to the Cree, Dene, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Blackfoot, Métis and Inuit.

Beth believes the following about Social Habits and Cities.

I walked away from my dream job because I learned that I wanted to be part of an organization — and cities — that explicitly supports employees and citizens to do their best work.

I wanted more. I wanted conscious city making.

I want to co-create social habitats that foster conscious city making. And so I set up a consulting company and dove in. I responded to the inner call to work differently, and create the conditions for me — and others — to do so.

I have beautiful clients who want and ask me to do the work I love to do. I have made time to write and write, to figure out more clearly where this work is taking me. And here I am, with you, to work together to make our cities places that serve us well. To co-evolve together.

I believe a city can choose to look after itself and its people.

It’s not easy work, and it will never end.

It is a call to experience the city as a learning ground, a partner in our evolutionary journey as a species.

This is the direction in which I wish to move.

Learn more about Beth’s work at

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