Issue 569February 2019

Member Profile: Tina Barseghian

Urbanist Article March 1, 2019

Tina Barseghian has spent her journalism career covering a diverse array of topics from craft (she worked for both Craft and ReadyMade magazines) to education (she founded KQED’s Mindshift, a daily news site about the future of education, and worked as the executive editor of Edutopia, a magazine produced by the George Lucas Education Foundation) to travel (her beat was Asia, Australia, Hawaii and the South Pacific). A through line to all of these seemingly disparate beats? Cities.

Working as a reporter in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, Barseghian grew increasingly fascinated, she explains, “by how policy is created, how residents’ voices are integrated, and how creative problem-solving requires breaking down stigmas that have built up over years. I believe in local government: These are the people working on the frontlines to improve the lives of the underserved.”

She continued this work at the design and innovation firm IDEO, where, as global senior editor, she led storytelling efforts across multiple platforms on a range of topics including education, health care, the public sector, technology and business. In 2017, she joined the civic-innovation nonprofit FUSE as its director of impact communications. We talked to Barseghian about her work at FUSE and tried to make her pick her favorite city (we didn’t succeed).

Please tell us a bit about your work and about FUSE.

FUSE is an executive fellowship program that partners with local government agencies to help them take on their most important challenges — everything from homelessness and affordable housing to social and criminal justice, to inclusive economic development to climate change. My job is to surface the insights and best practices from our projects across the country, and to share them through our stories with civic leaders, innovators and practitioners who are working to solve their communities’ challenges.

What is your favorite city?

I don’t have just one favorite. As a travel writer in a former life, I was lucky enough to visit lots of cool cities. I love Oakland, where I live, and San Francisco for its vain beauty. I can easily see myself living in Rome, as well as Mexico City and Tokyo, all vibrant cities that have a strong identity and a point of view on how to live. I loved visiting Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, during a family pilgrimage to my ancestral country, eating the most scrumptious food and soaking up the music, art and life of this uniquely cosmopolitan-yet-homey city.

Favorite urban view?

The Shibuya intersection in Tokyo, where more than 500 people cross at all angles the second the light turns green. It’s a marvel of urban planning and a true spectacle to behold from a high hotel-room floor, not to mention to walk through.

Favorite film about cities?

I just finished watching Roma, an incredible film set in 1971 Mexico City. It perfectly captures the beauty of the Art Deco-era architecture, the sounds of street merchants, protestors voicing their grievances, the lushness of the streets. The city, and specifically the family’s home in the Roma neighborhood, plays as big a role as any character in the film.

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