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


London Presentation Will Examine Ways to Know a City

On October 17, Chuck Wolfe will appear at a Connected Places Catapult "Third Thursday" event in London, which will help set the stage for the Catapult's November multi-day CityX event, chuck will focus on the Future of Housing and Future of Mobility.
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SBC Group Collaborates with Biennale Irish Pavilion Curators in Macroom

The Irish Pavilion (Free Market) from the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale  is currently touring Ireland. On July 22 in Macroom, County Cork, Chuck Wolfe led a customised tour using SBC approaches and principles.  The Pavilion--curated by six architects--tells the...
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On Congestion Pricing and the Importance of Context

Seattle’s Crosscut recently asked Chuck Wolfe to explain the importance of context to urban transportation solutions, based on London and Stockholm...
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SBC Group Principles Help American Students Explore London

On July 3, Chuck Wolfe spent the day consulting on the LENS Method and urban diary tool with UK Architecture Study Abroad students from the University of Idaho.
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Urban Diary Tool Featured at European Placemaking Week

On June 13 and 14 in Valencia, Chuck Wolfe framed the first principles of city life from Urbanism Without Effort--and how to observe them using urban diaries and the LENS Method (from Seeing the Better City)--in two presentations at European Placemaking Week...
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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”