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


Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character Launches Successfully

Sustaining a City's Culture and Character focuses on how to understand the innate identity of an urban place. The book provides a catalog of techniques that emphasize “bottom up,” resident-based input. Such input includes local history, building forms, natural and...
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Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character: The Digital Brochure

Now, pending release in early 2021, comes the final book countdown, with all relevant details--and a book excerpt-- contained in the recently released digital brochure. Please click and flip the pages embedded below. For a limited time, preorder with a substantial...
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Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character: Pre-Order Available

This book will complete the trilogy that began with Chuck Wolfe's Urbanism Without Effort and Seeing the Better City. For those who seek an urbanism of distinctiveness to enhance city livability, rather than a bland, generic uniformity, the book examines on a global...
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Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character: Cover Design Set

The book cover has been finalized for Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character: Principles and Best Practices. To learn more, click...
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SBC Group Ideas Gain Exposure

Two notable journals have recently furthered SBC ideas, including the urban diary, and more expansive ways to understand the city today.  First, in the new issue of The Journal of Public Space, Chuck Wolfe writes about the LEARN (Look, Engage, Assess, Review, and...
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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”