Through critical observation


Through critical observation

Our Mission


  • Transform how our cities evolve using visual storytelling
  • Encourage participation by a diversity of voices
  • Promote equitable policies, plans, and decisions

Visual imagery is a powerful, necessary tool to observe and interpret cities. It sets aside academic jargon that saturates our discussions of cities, and provides a universal language for all.

Chuck Wolfe

Founder and Principal Advisor


Urban Diary Approach Fosters Two Australian Awards

The Urban Thinkers Campus team that embraced SBC urban diary concepts (and on which Chuck Wolfe served on as a Fulbright Specialist) has received the 2018 Planning Institute of Australia (Queensland) Public Engagement and Community Planning Award, as well as a James...
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Urban Diary Methodology Presented at La Biennale di Venezia–Architectura 2018

On September 22 in Venice, Chuck Wolfe explained the equitable use of urban diaries and the LENS Method in a presentation entitled "The role of urban observation, context, and authenticity for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda" at a multi-day, international...
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SBC Principles Frame Stockholm ‘Cities in Context’ Panel

On September 7, a panel moderated by Chuck Wolfe in Stockholm examined the role of local context and authenticity in the success of cities and urban places. See a video of the full panel discussion (the third "Delphi Conversation" sponsored by the KTH University...
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“The urban diary approach provides people with a chance to meaningfully engage…”

Chuck Wolfe and co-authors Silvia Tavares and David Sellars address the application of Seeing the Better City principles to two cities in tropical Australia (as part of a United Nations Urban Thinkers Campus) in a June 28 Planetizen exclusive, also republished in...
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SBC Principles Anchor Australian Urban Thinkers Campus

As a Fulbright Specialist, Chuck Wolfe facilitated community consultation, related action plans, and outcomes by engagement of stakeholders and local governments in Cairns and Townsville, Australia, through one-day events based on the United Nations' New Urban...
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Our Services


Chuck participates in regular speaking engagements, panels, and keynotes at events around the world. He speaks about transportation, density, affordability, public space, urban observation methods, and more. His speaking engagements are often paired with guided explorations around the host city or surrounding neighborhoods.


The first step in improving your city is knowing what is already there. Chuck facilitates group explorations of urban spaces affected by plans, policies, or other factors like rapid growth. These explorations show how to:

  • Analyze past, present, and future realities for a place
  • Visually document what you observe
  • Assess impacts of change
  • Use images to influence decision-making

Participants use Chuck’s Urban Diary tool during these explorations to observe and document what they find.


The Seeing Better Cities Group (SBC) team has extensive experience in land use law, urban policy and planning, and building livable cities. We help decision makers create informed plans, policies, and community involvement strategies for diverse populations, as well as provide advice on apps, platforms, and visual assessment techniques. We also collaborate with civic entrepreneurs and other placemaking innovators on urban policy and related initiatives.

Our approach is distinguished by our emphasis on visual narratives that promote inclusiveness, awareness, and diversity for everyone, not just the most powerful and privileged.


The Urban Diary Tool

The Urban Diary tool was developed by Chuck Wolfe to observe and document the cities in which we live, through photographs, sketches, or notes that catalog the influences of neighborhood dynamics, public transportation, and other elements that impact city life.  The Urban Diary uses the LENS method (Look, Explore, Narrate, and Summarize) introduced by Chuck in his two books, Seeing the Better City and the newly revised Urbanism Without Effort.

Read “A Visual Tool for Guiding Urban Change”